2015-06-05 Fortis installers must be getting the word

 

1)   Often people ask if there are any studies showing harm from cell towers, cell phones, etc., and there are many. Here is a link to many, providing ease of reference. Scrolling down the bibliography, there is a section “Electrosmog Bibliography Collection” with studies split off by topic. Some very interesting info here, much going back several decades.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/95083762/Electrosmog-and-Cataracts-61-References#scribd

 

2)   A person in Kelowna was told by a Fortis installer that they have been instructed to leave the analogs alone if people put signs, and I assume covers, on them. This is a change from instructions to shut power off it people resisted.  No doubt due to the terrific pressure being put on Fortis.

 

3)   Below the letters is an article about “stupid” water meters in Chicago that are running fast, very fast. I couldn’t provide the link because everyone would have to subscribe to read it, but a member was able to give it to me. The highlighting is hers. I have written to the author of the article to find out the make of the meter and will let you know when I find out. If anyone has a water meter that is giving high readings would you please let me know, and put “water meter” on the subject line?

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 Letters:

 

From: “LAVONE GARNET”
To: “Nanaimo Bulletin” <editor@nanaimobulletin.com>
Cc: “Alec McPherson” <alecmcpherson@shaw.ca>, “maureen young” <maureen_young@shaw.ca>, “susan toth” <susan_toth@telus.net>, “Lynn Raffle” <rafflelynn@gmail.com>, “john jnsranch” <john.jnsranch@gmail.com>
Sent: Friday, 5 June, 2015 10:08:40 AM

Subject: Rogers’ cell tower

Letter to the Editor:

Re: Cell tower not supported by regional district

Kudos to the South Wellington residents, whose voices of concern were strong and clear enough to be heard! Thank you to the Regional District of Nanaimo for taking a stand of non-support of the cell tower, to protect its citizens. Special thanks to RDN Area “C” Director, Maureen Young, who was so helpful to residents in her area, where the cell tower was to be placed, and to RDN Area “A”, Alec McPherson, who spoke up for neighbouring residents, who would also have been in close range of  the cell tower. In doing their research and providing alternative solutions, those residents, who spear-headed the action to protect our area have shown that citizens can determine the safety and development of their areas.

Lavonne Garnett

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From: X

To: Adrian Dix

Cc: Complaints BCUC:EX ; hlth.health@gov.bc.ca ; info@bcombudsperson.ca ; Premier

Sent: Friday, June 05, 2015 7:54 AM

Subject: Smart meters ARE ticking time bombs!!!

 

Attention Adrian Dix:

In light of the continued and ongoing problems with BC Hydro’s smart meters, I would like to ask why NOBODY in British Columbia

is acting on behalf of and in the best interests of the BC tax payers and ordering the removal of ALL smart meters in BC?

All over British Columbia, BC Hydro has installed smart meters right BESIDE people’s gas lines on their homes!!

Mr. Dix, could you please tell me why the BC premier is NOT in agreement with the Moratorium that was requested by the Regional District

Of The Okanagan-Similkameen director Mr. Tom Siddon?

All over British Columbia, BC Hydro has installed smart meters close to people’s gas lines along the side of their homes!!

MR Dix I would like you to tell me WHY nobody in BC is looking out for the BC taxpayers?

Mr Dix, why are we being FORCED to either accept these deadly and dangerous devices OR power is CUT OFF to our homes deliberately by BC Hydro?

Mr Dix, why is no one in power in BC putting the health, safety, well-being and lives of the BC Hydro customers FIRST?

Mr Dix, why are smart meters exploding like this one in Chilliwack?

Mr Dix, why are smart meters allowed to sit on people’s homes full of water like this one in Nanaimo?

Mr Dix, can you tell me if there really IS anyone in power in BC looking out for the BC consumer/ BC Hydro customer?

 http://www.thevalleyvoice.ca/Voice%20Stories/january%202015/smart%20meter%20explosion%20causes%20house%20fire%20-%20january-16-2015.htm

 http://www.castanet.net/news/BC/140770/Smart-meter-moratorium

 http://cnews.canoe.com/CNEWS/Canada/2015/06/03/22433556.html

 http://www.torontosun.com/2015/06/04/exploding-smart-meter-heats-up-queens-park

 PLEASE Mr Dix, I beg of you to do the right thing and take a stand against those bullying and forcing the BC consumers NOT wanting these terrifyingly DEADLY smart meters and see this moratorium move ahead ASAP…

Please do not reply to my email with a generic message because Mr Dix sir because THAT would be an insult to the BC Consumers who are paying for these dangerous and deadly devices and are waiting to have them removed from OUR homes.

I want and I believe every BC Hydro customer deserves at LEAST that from someone!!

X

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Suburb’s smart water meters regularly overcharge residents

by Gregory Pratt, Lauren Zumbach and Joe Mahr – Chicago Tribune – June 04, 2015 www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/ct-water-meter-overcharge-met-20150603-story.html#page=1

 

Bob Soga, a retired Tinley Park Public Works employee, reads a smart meter in his home in Tinley Park. (Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune)

Tribune investigation finds so-called smart water meters overbilling residents
Live in Tinley Park? You may want to check your smart water meter

One of Chicago’s largest suburbs uses a type of water meter that it knows has regularly overcharged residents — sometimes by hundreds of dollars a bill — while failing to give the public accurate information about the scope of the problem.

Tinley Park was one of the first towns to use so-called smart meters to record water usage in homes using electronic instead of mechanical parts. The village has pitched the brand of meters it uses as more accurate than mechanical models, but a Tribune investigation has found that the meters regularly overstate how much water has gone through them, resulting in overcharges to residents.

The village has known of the problem for years yet failed in key ways to ferret out bad meters. When the village found bad meters, it repeatedly did not fully refund residents. It has tried to explain away the problem in ways contradicted by its own records, including understating by at least half the number of overbilling meters it has documented. And those records lack details on how thousands more meters have failed — making it impossible to determine the true number of meters the village has discovered with the problem.

“This was a disaster from the first day,” said Bob Soga, a retired Public Works employee.

What is happening in the suburb offers a cautionary tale of how consumers can lose money as utilities across the country move to meters that measure quantities electronically.

The danger to consumers can be particularly acute in Illinois, which does little to regulate publicly owned water utilities even as consumers face skyrocketing water rates. Sugar Grove, the only other suburb known to have used the brand, called SmartMeter, also has fielded complaints of overcharges, records show.

In a town that regularly boasts of being on national lists of best places to live, Tinley Park officials say the problem is isolated and relatively harmless. They say they catch almost all mistakes before they lead to overcharges.

“The meters don’t overcharge. They misrecord what’s going through,” said Public Works Director Dale Schepers.

Village officials, he said, “don’t just take the numbers and send out bills and then, you know, actually overcharge people.”

But village records acknowledge $90,000 in refunds or bill adjustments. And a Tribune review of a sample of cases suggests some residents were owed far more. It’s unclear just how much more could be owed because the village said it was too hard to provide the Tribune the data needed for such an analysis.

Beyond the attempt to get a full refund, the cases reviewed by the Tribune show residents at times struggled to get the village to even acknowledge they were overcharged.

Robert Free said it took repeated complaints over 16 months to get his water meter replaced and a refund in early 2013. He felt so frustrated that he kept a spreadsheet logging showers, laundry cycles, dishwasher runs and toilet flushes to figure out why his bills were so high.

“I was overbilled,” he said. “What I said to them was … ‘You took my money, and you shouldn’t have had it. I want it back.’ ”

Bill and Cynthia Sifuentes said the village failed to alert them that the meters can overcharge — instead telling them to check for toilet leaks — before eventually acknowledging the meter was to blame for high bills.

“They hid it,” Bill Sifuentes said.

National experts, including one cited by the village, have told the Tribune that the meters are so unreliable, the village should replace them.

The fact that such an overcharge problem exists troubled Tom Kelly, a Maryland water official who heads the industry’s committee on meter standards. He said it “should never, ever, ever happen.”

Consistent problem

The problem is known as “spinning,” a term that refers to how the readings on a meter climb higher and faster than they should.

Imagine the figures on a gas pump rising faster than the amount of gas coming out of a hose. Water meters can over-record the same way, although the spinning can be tougher for residents to spot because meters don’t display prices. Those costs come in bills every three months, compiled by village workers who take quarterly readings that are converted to dollar amounts owed.

To study the problem, the Tribune obtained from the village hundreds of paper and electronic records and, in an analysis, found 355 cases of meters the village diagnosed as spinning since 2007. That’s more than double the 150 figure the village gave residents in an online article. It also doesn’t count thousands more meter failures identified in village documents that lacked details on how they broke.

The Tribune also reviewed 38 specific cases of spinning meters and found failures in how the village discovered and handled the spinning. Reporters also pored over another set of records of 30 special tests done by the village on SmartMeters and uncovered more accuracy concerns.

Reporters also reviewed village announcements to residents about the meters and found officials gave residents inaccurate and incomplete information about the problem.

The village could not provide records on exactly how many meters spun since the first SmartMeters arrived in 2002.

Back then, the village had aging, traditional meters with mechanical parts. As those parts wore, the meters measured less and less of the water flowing through.

Rich Bennett, a salesman who used to work for Tinley Park, introduced the town to British firm Severn Trent and its new electronic SmartMeter, which promised “accuracy for life” with precision “at the rate of a drip.”

The village, believing the meters would pay for themselves, according to documents, bought enough to cover a fifth of the town.

Problems soon emerged. Bennett recalled that some of the first batch of SmartMeters spun. Soga said meters kept spinning for as long as he worked at the village, through fall 2007.

“This was just an everyday occurrence,” he said. “There were hundreds of them, just hundreds of them.”

Red flags were seen by the Florida firm that has long sold meter supplies to Tinley Park. Floyd Salser, an engineer who runs the firm, said he used to sell the Severn Trent meters but stopped because of widespread complaints of reliability.

Tinley Park chose a different path. According to documents, the town, still believing it could make more money through SmartMeters, bought enough for every home.

As problems with the meters continued, the village complained to Severn Trent, records show. In 2013, the village agreed to a nearly $186,000 payout if it voided the warranties of the remaining Severn Trent meters. After that, anytime a SmartMeter had a problem, it was up to the village to fix it.

A spokesman for Severn Trent in the United States said it was no longer in the water meter business and no one at the company was available to comment.

Meter testing

In the midst of the Tribune investigation, village officials this year mailed a newsletter to all residents with an article that acknowledged the meters had problems. It posted a similar article online. But the articles included explanations contradicted by the village’s own records:

• The village described the problem initially as meter “failures” but didn’t acknowledge that residents could be overcharged.

• The village said its failure rate was normal, except for an “unusual spike” traced to a single batch of meters and dealt with years ago. But records show spinning in many batches throughout the years — with 2014 having the highest number of listed cases of any year.

• The village claimed it regularly, randomly tested meters, and all meters tested within national standards. Yet the Tribune found that Tinley Park had only recently begun testing SmartMeters, and, of 30 tests, 18 ended with a meter overstating a flow measurement that violated industry standards.

After the Tribune questioned the village in March about the inconsistencies, the village rewrote its online article, acknowledging that meters spun, removed the reference to a specific batch being failures and tweaked its language regarding the standards. It said the meters met industry standards “at the time of installation.” For some meters in service, that was a decade ago.

Officials also initially assured residents that existing meters were “within” the industry standards for accuracy. Now, the village said the meters tested “close to” standards. When asked how close was close enough, the village declined to say.

Kelly, the industry’s top official on accuracy, works for a Maryland utility. He reviewed village test results provided by the Tribune and said he would have flunked many of the meters that Tinley Park tested.

The online article also gave assurances to residents about practices the village used to hunt bad meters, but the Tribune found that the village’s process missed case after case of spinning meters.

The village has touted software that it says easily pinpoints bad meters so they can be quickly fixed before residents are overcharged. In October, Schepers told the Tribune that “99.9 percent is, we get the reading, it looks out of whack, we do the investigation and, if need be, we make an adjustment.”

But reviews of hundreds of pages of records show that, many times, the town didn’t catch the mistakes. The special software often missed red flags. Sometimes the village tested suspicious meters and said they were fine, only to return months later and confirm they were spinning, according to records.

Even in cases triggered by software alerts, the village delayed testing. Instead, the village quizzed residents about their water use, such as whether they had additional house guests, watered new sod or filled pools — despite seeing signs of potential spinning.

Tinley Park residents Brian and Denise Miller got a $710 water bill in July 2011. They said it typically costs them just $100 to fill their modest pool with water every year.

“That’s why we were like, ‘Where would seven swimming pools of water be?’ ” Denise Miller recalled. Their meter was found to be spinning and was replaced. They received a refund of about $650.

Residents complain

In cases reviewed by the Tribune, many residents got relief only if they spotted problems and complained, often repeatedly.

Most residents were first sent dye strips to put in their toilets to see if perhaps the bowl was leaking — such was the case for Bill Sifuentes. He said the village, knowing it has a problem, should immediately be checking suspect meters without making residents do the tests.

“What if you’ve got an elderly person and they don’t even know how to use the strips?” he said.

Notes by village employees in village records help buttress Sifuentes’ argument.

One woman — described as an elderly, physically disabled widow who lived alone — repeatedly complained since at least 2010 that her water bill was too high. She was repeatedly sent dye strips, according to documents. The village finally tested her meter more than four years after her first complaint. By then the meter’s screen had gone blank, but the village worker wrote that he suspected it had been spinning.

Since the change, her new meter recorded an average of 25 percent less water per day than her old meter claimed, the Tribune found.

That woman’s experience highlights the contradictions in the village’s explanation of how meters spin — an explanation that can cost residents money. The village has told residents that when meters begin to spin, they spin so ferociously that they’re easily spotted: “This spinning condition only lasts a brief time, and the recorded consumption is much too excessive to be mistaken for normal use,” the village wrote in its latest online message to residents this year.

That’s why, the village said, those with spinning meters typically deserve refunds for only the most recent bill.

A sample of cases confirmed that residents whose meters were spinning typically got just one bill reduced. Yet the Tribune, in its review of dozens of cases, found evidence that most of those meters were spinning for months, perhaps years, before the village acknowledged a problem. Robert Free said he tapped on his pipe and saw his meter readings jump — more than a year after he first complained and the village said his meter was OK.

The village initially cut only one of his bills, from $136 to $102. He said he had to argue that he was owed more, and the village agreed to refund him more money if his new meter proved he used less water. When his new meter proved it, the village refunded Free another $167 to cover another 1 1/2 years of presumed overcharges.

Longtime residents Carl and Donna Gerlich had years of unexplained spikes, with no intervention from the village, until they complained and the village found spinning in 2011. The village cut their water bills by $109. Had the village acknowledged spinning occurred earlier, as the village did for Free, the Gerlichs would be owed $317 more.

“We pay our taxes. We pay a lot of taxes … and the least you expect is for the village that you live in not to cheat you,” Donna Gerlich said. “That bothers me greatly.”

Village officials say they have never knowingly overcharged residents. Yet they acknowledge they’ve done no tests to better gauge how meters spin. To defend their rationale on how meters spin, they cited conversations with Salser, who helps set industry standards and whose firm specializes in meter testing equipment.

Salser told the Tribune that his firm years ago found that that type of meter seemed to spin in obvious ways. But, when told of the cases uncovered in Tinley Park, Salser said that it also “makes perfect sense” that meters could be spinning in ways not easily detected until a big failure.

The future

Salser said he was surprised the village still was using 19,500 SmartMeters, a model he said that has “absolutely the worst performance” of any he’s known. He suggested the village consider taking them out and charging residents a flat water fee — similar to what’s done in most of Chicago — until it can install more reliable meters.

“They’re not going to get better,” he said. “It’s time to pull the plug and fix it.”

The village can keep using the meters as long as it wants — regardless of accuracy. In Illinois, only water utilities run by private firms are required to ensure tested meters meet industry standards. And without thorough testing, Kelly said there’s no way to know for sure how many meters in Tinley Park may be overcharging.

Tinley Park said it spent $1.8 million to buy all the meters and it would cost too much to test all the meters or replace them.

In 2013, the village started replacing failing meters, first with a mix of meters using mechanical parts, then a different type of electronic technology. But nearly 90 percent of homes continue to have SmartMeters.

One house that has a SmartMeter is Soga’s. The retired village employee knows to regularly check it for wild readings. He hopes others learn to do the same.

“I know there’s some spinning meters out there right now, and people don’t know,” he said, “and they’re paying the bill.”

gpratt@tribpub.com

 

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Sharon

“Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up,  don’t give up the fight.”   Bob Marley

 Sent from my wired, wifi-disabled laptop 

 

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