New York's Digital Meter Opt-Out Bills
S5632-A & A9148
New York State Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblyman Steve Otis have introduced landmark legislation that would allow all utility consumers in NY State to "Opt-Out" of the installation of a digital meter with no penalty and no cost. Here is our analysis of the problem and the solution.
Digital utility meters, including "smart" meters, are electronic devices that use pulsed radio-frequency (RF) radiation to operate and/or wirelessly transmit personal information about customers’ utility usage data back to the utility. S-5632A and A-9148 amend the general business law in relation to consumer protection and utility meter choice by giving all New Yorkers the right to “opt out” of a digital meter.
There is currently a patchwork of local utility policies regarding the right of consumers to opt-out of the installation of digital meters. As a result some customers can fully opt-out, others can opt-out with a penalty, and some cannot opt-out at all. Some customers with solar panels have been forced to accept a digital meter, even though their analog meter was working perfectly. A clear, comprehensive, uniform statewide policy is required.
Some individuals are particularly sensitive to RF radiation. Symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity (medical code ICD-10 W-90) include headaches, dizziness, nausea, disorientation, and insomnia. Prolonged exposure can result in severe and debilitating medical conditions.
Thousands of scientific studies have demonstrated that low levels of RF radiation (below thermal levels) can interfere with biological functions in lab animals. A major study by the National Toxicology Program (a division of the National Institutes of Health) found “clear evidence” of an increased cancer risk from exposure to RF radiation.
Digital utility meters transmit private personal usage information that is easily monitored or hacked and can be used for a multitude of unlawful purposes.
Digital utility meters have a long history of technical problems, including explosions, fires, and over-heating. Utility workers report that digital meters frequently need to be repaired or replaced.
All digital utility meters (transmitting and non-transmitting) employ switch-mode power supplies which emit constant RF radiation.
S-5632A and A9148 recognize the right of energy consumers, regardless of where they live in New York State, to decline a digital meter with no penalty or cost. Electric, water or gas utilities must provide customers with advance notice and the opportunity to “Opt-Out” of digital meter installation. Existing digital meters must be replaced at customer’s request. Utilities may not install digital meters in apartment buildings if more than 50% of the residents object, and Individuals in apartment buildings may choose an analog meter for their service.