Elizabeth Barris, of the newly formed "Topangans for a Radiation Free Community," explained how the new digital smart meters, scheduled to be installed by Edison throughout Topanga starting this month, will adversely impact health throughout the Canyon. Barris said she must wear a silver threaded shawl (shown) to shield her from EMF radiation, that she demonstrated with an EMF meter at a meeting at the library on May 31. She advocates that people choose “Not To Opt In” to the Smart Meters program. An official with Edison said all residents in Topanga were informed by letter of the rollout and can join the opt-out program by calling (800) 810-2369.
An organization called Topangans for a Radiation Free Community (TRFC) is fighting to keep Topanga free from smart meters that they believe cause harmful effects to the brain and body.
Southern California Edison (SCE) has started installing smart electric meters in western Los Angeles County and eastern Ventura County as part of the Edison SmartConnect program.
According to the Edison website, the technology will enable SCE residential and small-business customers to take advantage of new programs and services in the near future.
Communities in the upcoming installation phase include Agoura, Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Camarillo, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Hidden Hills, Malibu, Moorpark, Newbury Park, Oak Park, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Topanga, Westlake Village and a small part of Santa Rosa and Woodland Hills.
To protest the move, Elizabeth Barris, founder of the Peoples Initiative Foundation (thepeoplesinitiative.org), rallied a group at the Topanga Library on May 31 to unify and fight against this installation with meetings, direct mail, e-mail and petitions.
In April, the California Public Utilities Commission allowed customers to opt out of smart meters on their home with a one-time fee of $75 and a monthly fee of $10.
To request to be placed on the Edison Opt Out list, call (800) 810-2369 (English) or (800) 477-4455 (Spanish).
Edison said they adopted this fee structure to pay meter readers and the extra administrative costs to maintain a separate billing system.
(Look up Smart Meters on SCEs website to read about current options: sce.com/info/smartconnect/facts/ smartconnectfaq.htm).
Edison is playing games, Barris wrote, They sent out a letter to people telling them if they were on the delay list they were going to have their analog replaced with a smart meter if they didn't again call by June 9 to opt out even if they were on the delay list.
To protest the fees, Barris advocated for civil disobedience when it comes to the opt-out fees, as in not paying them and sending letters to Edison.
These fees are clearly punitive, discriminatory, designed to stop people from opting out and they are illegal to boot, Barris said.
Just a few months ago, Barris moved from Santa Monica to Topanga to get away from the smart meters in her building that she said caused her massive headaches, nausea, heart palpitations and insomnia.
Barris said that smart meters have been implicated in serious health effects, such as cancer, heart arrhythmia and heart attack, birth defects and diabetes.
On her website she writes that the smart meters operate in mesh networks, transmitting radiation in millisecond pulses many times a minute throughout the day and night.
[They have] big plans to utilize customer information from within the home via smart appliances, smart meters and smart grid, Barris said. Why are these surveillance devices considered legal when others are not? Recently a judge in a federal case ruled it illegal for law enforcement to put a surveillance device on someones car.
Many Topangans agree, including Gail McDonald-Tune, Sherry and Bob Jason of City Hearts and Greg and Ianthe Mauro, who moved to Topanga last year.
At the Topanga Library emergency meeting we learned about the dangers of SCE Smart Meters, not just to our health (from radiation 480 times higher then a cell phone), but to our privacy, Ianthe Mauro wrote via e-mail.
They are like little wire-tapping devices on our homes capable of knowing what room we are in and what appliance we are using, etc. They can easily be hacked, giving criminals the ability to know when we are not home and when we are; I have chosen to ignore so many causes in my busy life, but this one affects us all, most particularly our children, and I cannot ignore it!
Not So Smart Meters
An Edison official said that smart meters only collect aggregate information; essentially just the total power use hour by hour and they have no technical capabilities nor do they have any interest in selling customers energy use data.
This is a great new technology that can help customers better manage electricity, the official said. It allows customers to log on (www.SCE.com) in order to track their usage; they can set an energy budget and stay on track.
The Edison official took pains to dispel the concern that data would be used or sold to third parties for marketing or surveillance use.
Customer information is dealt with in a very private way, the Edison official said. We dont have data to sell and nothing we will ever do will change that.
Keeping Topanga EMF Free
Yet, according to Barris research, 53 cities and counties in Northern California have criminalized installation or called for a moratorium.
Tell everyone you know Edison does not have the right to illegally surveil you inside your house and you do not submit to the "smart meter program, she said.
Barris said despite contacting local and state officials, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Assemblymember Julia Brownley and State Sen. Fran Pavley, no one would respond or take action on their behalf.
Nobody is looking out for our own interests, Barris said. We have to take matters into our own hands.
For more information, contact Liz Barris at (310) 281-9639 or firstname.lastname@example.org or join the Google Groups e-mail to email@example.com.
Further information on smart meters may be obtained at: Americanassociationforsmartmetersafety.org; edf.org/SmartMeterResponse; esma-home.eu/smartMetering/.