Sedona AZ (April 24, 2014) – In 2009, the Congress passed the Stimulus Bill that approved 3.4 billion dollars for the Smart Grid and smart meters. This funding encouraged public utilities across the United States to begin installing smart meters. It was hoped that this action would help balance the demands for electricity across the national grid.
Over the last few years, Arizona Public Service (APS) has been installing over one million smart meters throughout the state. The only areas yet to receive smart meters are parts of northern Arizona.
In June of 2013, the Sedona City Council voted to send a letter to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) requesting that the City of Sedona be allowed to opt-out from smart meter installation. The cities of Bisbee and Jerome and the Big Park Council of the Village of Oak Creek have also requested to opt-out. The ACC has not ruled on these opt-out requests.
The ACC has requested the Arizona Department of Health Services conduct a study of the health, safety, and privacy issues of smart meters. This study will examine the literature surrounding smart meters along with field tests as to their electromagnetic emissions. This report is expected be complete by September 2014 or by the end of the year. Though the ACC has requested the study, they are nevertheless allowing APS to continue to install smart meters in Cottonwood and Payson. Sedona was scheduled to begin on March 31.
Mayor Rob Adams, City Manager Tim Ernster, and City Attorney Mike Goimarac met with APS officials on March 3, 2014. They were told that APS would not delay the installations of smart meters beyond March 3l.
The Sedona City Council voted on March 12 to retain Phoenix attorney David Pennartz, who is experienced in litigating before the ACC, to legally intervene for the purpose of challenging the proposed APS requested initial opt-out fee of $75.00 and an ongoing monthly fee of $30.00 thereafter. It is believed that both proposed fees are excessive and unjustified. We are presently paying $1.86 to have our analogue meters read. The ACC has yet to rule on the APS proposed opt-out fees.
The issues of health, safety, and privacy are so important that they must be resolved before we expose our residents to what could be a serious threat to their well-being. If it is determined either scientifically or medically by an unbiased investigation that smart meters are no risk to public health, safety, and privacy, no harm will result from waiting until the state health report is completed. However, if it is shown that smart meters are injurious, installing smart meters now could result in serious and long- term consequences. It is more prudent to err on the side of caution and wait.
Common sense would dictate that the burden of proof should be on APS to prove that smart meters are safe beyond a reasonable doubt, and not place it on innocent residents who may be unknowingly exposing themselves to the risk of serious health, safety, and privacy concerns.
This article expresses the opinion of City Councilor Dan McIlroy, and not that of the City of Sedona or the Sedona City Council.