By Henry Twombly, Sedona Resident
(February 26, 2014)
Last week the tremendous turnout to the City Council’s meeting on smart meters sent a clear message to the Council: we don’t want smart meters here in Sedona. Whether or not the Council heeds the will of the people remains to be seen. Some are not convinced that the radio-frequencies of the smart meters pose any health risks, though there is overwhelming evidence that states otherwise. At least two spokespeople at the meeting shared their experiences of ill health due to the meters. Smart meters are due to be installed in Sedona beginning on March 31, so the Council has little time to act.
At the start of the meeting an independent advisor (I couldn’t hear who he was or what firm he represented) outlined some options for the Council. Some of which included legal action to stop the installation, but he intimated any such action would be expensive. He didn’t want to discuss this further except in executive session, from which the public would be excluded and would have no input.
When I wrote the Council to suggest writing and enforcing city ordinances prohibiting smart meters like those in Fairfax, CA that proved effective, one member wrote back that it would be too expensive, something like “the city doesn’t have the money.” I found this to be a specious and misleading argument, since the City is increasing our wastewater rates 4% for the next 6 years while decreasing its subsidies to the fund; so it can eventually have an extra $9 million. Appartently the CIty would rather spend the money on its misbegotten community plan or splash parks for kids, rather than protect the health of its citizens whose average age is 57. Moreover, for those who disregard the health risks, the City stands to make money on the installation of smart meters, whose digital accounting more accurately amps up the usage of electricity and creates higher bills that generate higher tax revenues for the City. More money for the community plan.
The most feasible option in the short term offered by the advisor was to negotiate with APS a delay in the installation of smart meters until the ACC-commissioned health study is completed at the end of the year. (The ACC is being negligent, if not complicit, in allowing APS to install any meters at all before that time.) This would give the City time to write and test out legal actions barring smart meters. But my guess is the Council may only negotiate the delay, but won’t follow through with the legal actions, even though we already have a nuisance ordinance on the books that could be applied to APS. The Council will placate the opposition for the time being, especially since some members are hoping to be re-elected this fall. By then the Council hopes the brouhaha will die down and people will forget their health is in jeopardy. Then when smart meters are installed, the Council will claim that it had no power or jurisdiction to stop it; that the state authority of the ACC and APS’s purview trumped their local clout.
In short, the Council will disavow and divest itself of any responsibility, as it did with the street lights. The majority of the Council wanted the street lights because their installation would provide and extend the electronic grid in West Sedona (remember Ms. Scagnalli’s e-mail?). So the members didn’t fight to have a third option included on the ballot, which would have had ADOT maintain ownership of the road and there would be no street lights. They knew residents would not vote to take ownership of the road, and that the City would get its electronic grid. I’m concerned the same thing will happen with the smart meters; that the Council won’t aggressively act to ban the meters, while it secretly hopes the ACC-sponsored health study shows no ill effects. Regardless of the results, the Council will absolve itself of all responsibility as smart meters are installed and subsequently it reaps greater tax revenues.
So if you want to ban the meters from Sedona, e-mail the Council members (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell them to negotiate a delay in the installation and to legally fight APS and ban smart meters from Sedona.
Sedona, AZ 86336