Ulster legislature endorses smart meter options

meter SQFollowing the recommendations of a resolution drafted by its Environmental, Energy and Technology Committee, the Ulster County Legislature approved “Memorializing Resolution” No. 315, which supports state-level bills establishing a customer’s right to choose whether or not to accept the current wireless model electricity meters being deployed by Central Hudson.

“We are encouraging the (New York State) Senate and the Assembly to pass the law that has been introduced in their respective divisions of government,” said District 23 (Woodstock and West Hurley) legislator Don Gregorius, who co-sponsored the bill with legislators Ken Wishnick, Carl Belfiglio, David Donaldson, Hector Rodriguez and Tracey Bartels. “We support their efforts and are also concerned about the health and safety of the public…I believe the proposed law, although not as comprehensive as I would like, is a realistic and important beginning that has the potential, if passed, to offer some specific relief to the present situation.”

The Senate and Assembly bills in question are S3379A-2013 and A7799A-2013, respectively, which offer utility ratepayers the option of declining installation of new digital home meters which have stirred controversy and opposition across the nation and around the world. Chief among complaints the meters have drawn have been their privacy invasive nature which details activities and presence within the home, and widespread reports of serious health-related effects from microwave or radio-frequency radiations they continually transmit.

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The Senate bill which, like the Assembly’s, proposes to amend section 67-b of public service law, specifies that “the commission shall not charge a fee to consumers” for the decision to retain their analog meters. Some states have allowed an initial “opt-out” charge paid to utilities plus additional monthly charges added to their bill for the privilege of avoiding the new meters’ alleged problems. Other states, like Vermont, have found such extra fees “simply inappropriate” and legislated against them.

This wording is welcome news to Steve Romine, who maintains the StopSmartMetersWoodstockNY website. Romine found his electricity unceremoniously cut off in April when, in response to dire health impacts to a resident of his home, he carefully documented the procedure (and meter readings) on video as he replaced a newly installed “smart meter” with a properly calibrated analog model and sent the video and digital meter to Central Hudson along with explanations for his actions. The utility responded by cutting wires to Romine’s home and seeking $300 from him for hooking him back up, with the meter he sought to avoid. Romine reports that he has remained severed from the utility’s electricity supply since that time.

Romine, who was among numerous speakers opposing “Smart Meters” at the County Legislature’s October meeting and is credited by Gregorius with supplying helpful information including, at his own expense, DVD copies of the Take Back Your Power smart meter expose film released earlier this year. Romine declares that the option to choose whether or not to be exposed to the radiation is a vital one to public health.

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