Reposted from www.leg.state.vt.us
Senate Committee on Finance
March 13, 2012 - March 16, 2012
Last Updated 3/9/2012 12:41 PM
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
1:30 PM S. 214 – An act relating to customer rights regarding smart meters
Committee Discussion and Mark up
Maria Royle, Legislative Counsel, Office of Legislative Council
2:30 PM S. 172 – An act relating to creating a private activity bond advisory committee
Elizabeth Miller, Commissioner, Department of Public Service
3:30 PM S. 200 – An act relating to the reporting requirements of health insurers
Katie McLinn, Legislative Counsel, Office of Legislative Council
Cassandra Gekas, Health Care Advocate, VPIRG
Clifford Peterson, General Counsel, Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities & Health Care Administration
Dian Kahn, Director, Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities & Health Care Administration
Georgia Maheras, Executive Director, Green Mountain Care Board
Kevin Goddard, Vice President of External Affairs, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Vermont
Susan Gretkowski, Lobbyist, MVP
Jeanne Kennedy, Lobbyist, Cigna Health Care
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
1:30 PM S. 209 – An act relating to naturopathic physicians
Jennifer Carbee, Legislative Counsel, Office of Legislative Council
Lorilee Schoenbeck, N.D., Mountain View Natural Medicine
Madeleine Mongan, Vice-President, Vermont Medical Society
Hunt Blair, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA)
David Martini, General Counsel, Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities & Health Care Administration
2:30 PM S. 223 – An act relating to extending health insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorders
Katie McLinn, Legislative Counsel, Office of Legislative Council
Judith Ursitti, Regional Director, National Autism Speaks Organization
Claudia Inés Pringles, Parent
3:30 PM Senate in Session
Thursday, March 15, 2012
1:30 PM Senate in Session
- Committee Discussion & Possible Action on Bills
Friday, March 16, 2012
1:30 PM S. 143 – An act relating to disclosing building energy performance and promoting thermal energy efficiency
Ward Smyth, Director Policy, Building Energy Disclosure Working Group
George Twigg, Deputy Policy Director, Building Energy Disclosure Working Group
Rep. Margaret Cheney, Sponsor, Building Energy Disclosure Working Group
Ami Milne Allen, Member, Building Energy Disclosure Working Group
Vermont towns reject smart meters: Bennington, Dorset, Manchester, and Sandgate vote against rollout in landslide
For immediate release
Mar. 6, 2012
Jesse Mayhew, Campaign Manager
During Town Meeting Day, March 6, 2012 four Vermont towns expressed their concerns about the pending rollout by voting against smart meter implementation in their respective communities. The towns of Bennington, Manchester, Dorset, and Sandgate all overwhelmingly chose to reject smart meter rollouts. Although the votes were nonbinding, their outcome is the latest sign Vermonters are becoming increasingly concerned about the impacts smart meters have on their health, privacy, and security.
“These results come from communities where the roll-out has already begun or is set to begin soon. We are not surprised by these results because it is clear that as Vermonters learn more about wireless smart meters, the less they want them in their community.” Said Wake Up Opt Out Campaign Manager Jesse Mayhew.
Manchester resident and Wake Up Opt Out campaign member Tina Victor said there were three main reasons why residents voted against the meters, “Vermonters are voting against smart meters because they are concerned about their privacy, worried about health implications, and think the whole process has been rushed without enough public input or awareness.”
Victor continued, “It is our hope that these votes and recent public opposition to smart meters is enough to get our elected officials and regulators to stop listening to the utilities and start listening to the people’s concerns.”
The Wake Up Opt Out Campaign said the votes were the latest evidence that this is a growing and important issue for Vermonters, “We’ve seen the traffic to our website grow everyday since its launch. We’ve seen the number of letters to the editor in local papers swell. And now we see four towns directly express their concern. It’s very clear this is becoming a much larger issue, and is likely just the beginning of Vermonters speaking out.”
Mayhew continued, “It is also worth pointing out that no towns that discussed smart meters voted in their favor.”
Summary of Results:
• Bennington – Voice Vote for “One year moratorium on installation of smart meters” – broad support with only a “few nays” reported.
• Dorset – Australian ballot to “oppose installation of wireless smart meters” – 292 in favor, 197 against.
• Manchester – Floor vote to “Oppose the installation of wireless smart meters” – 94 in favor, 48 against.
• Sandgate – Floor vote to have Select Board write letter of opposition – 54 in favor, 0 against (unanimous)
Mayhew encourages concerned Vermonters seeking further information on Smart Meters to visit the campaign’s website at www.wakeupoptout.org.
Reposted from Vermont Today.
By Patrick McArdle | STAFF WRITER
BENNINGTON – Several area residents were recognized for their efforts during Tropical Storm Irene at Monday’s floor meeting and a non-binding resolution asking that the installation of wireless smart meters be delayed for a year was passed.
Natasha Garder and Matthew Littrell, co-owners of the Crazy Russian Girl Bakery, and Polly Van der Linde, director of the Sonatina piano camp in Old Bennington, were given certificates of recognition on Monday during the floor meeting. Some other Bennington County towns, like Manchester, have made the appreciation of citizens who have made extraordinary contributions an annual part of the town meeting, this was the first time Bennington had made a formal recognition in a number of years.
Joseph Krawczyk Jr., chairman of the Bennington Select Board, said Garder was one of a number of Bennington residents who “really stepped forward and did some wonderful things to help their neighbors out.”
(Host) Manchester voters have gone on record against wireless electric meters.
The utilities say the wireless smart meters should improve customer service. But some residents have raised health and privacy concerns.
Theo Talcott of Manchester says the vote against smart meters at Saturday’s Town Meeting came after an unsuccessful move to table the issue.
(Talcott) “They tried to like not let us bring it up to vote even though we had gotten the signatures and gotten it on the ballot. And that sort of turned the animal spirit of the room, and people were like, no that isn’t fair.” Read This Article
Reposted from The Manchester Journal
MANCHESTER – Voters were in an approving mood during Saturday’s town “floor” meeting in Manchester, passing several special measures, as well as a new municipal budget that calls for more than $7.587 million in public expenditures. That figure represents a more than $600,000 increase over last year, but $400,000 of that is due to spending tied to the town’s long-delayed “Roundabout” project – a replacement for the present intersection of Routes 7A and 11/30 – and is federally funded. Construction is now scheduled to start on May 1. Read This Article
Reposted from VTdigger.
Editor’s note: This op-ed is by James Marc Leas, a patent lawyer from South Burlington who served as a staff physicist for the Union of Concerned Scientists in the aftermath of the accident at Three Mile Island.
In the interview on Vermont Public Radio, “In Smart Grid Debate, Co-ops Pick Hard-Wire Over Wireless To Cut Cost,” the remarks by the president of Washington Electric Co-op, Avram Patt, in favor of wired smart meters were quite persuasive. He gave specific information and advantages. By contrast, the spokesman for CVPS gave no reasons at all for CVPS and GMP to select wireless smart meters over the wired smart meters Washington Electric Co-op has had in service for several years. Read This Article
Reposted from SMARTER METERS
The Vermont Department of Health has released a “Radio Frequency Radiation and Health: Smart Meters” report to the public. For the most part, it isn’t surprising, given recent testimony before the Vermont Senate Finance Committee and previous positions VDH has held regarding electromagnetic fields.
What is worth noting is how contrary this report is to the decades of evidence and knowledge that radio frequencies do have actual, non-thermal biological effects. Obviously, with millions in stimulus dollars on the line, any critical examination of this project might jeopardize this funding. What is important, albeit inconvenient, to consider, is that failing to look this gift horse in the mouth will allow a veritable Trojan Horse into Vermont, with the potential to change the state in irreversible ways.
Let’s begin with the indisputable aspects of the report, before examining some of the glaring issues.
There is little scientific data specific to smart meters.
The [Federal Communications Commission's] maximum permissible exposure limits are established to prevent thermal effects of [radio frequency radiation]. The MPE limit is not based on any non-thermal effects.
A number of reports have appeared in the scientific literature describing the observation of a range of biological effects resulting from exposure to low-levels of RF energy.
[Individual sensitivity to RFR can vary depending on] “flicker” from fluorescent lights, glare and other visual problems with [monitors], poor ergonomic design, poor indoor air quality, and [other sources of] stress.
Populations as a whole are not genetically homogeneous and people can vary in their susceptibility to environmental hazards.
[Electrohypersensitivity] can be a disabling problem for the affected individual.
The use of mobile phones whilst driving is a major issue of concern and experimental evidence demonstrates that it has a detrimental effect on drivers’ responsiveness. Epidemiological evidence indicates that this effect translates into a substantially increased risk of an accident.
It is not possible at present to say that exposure to RF radiation, even at levels below national guidelines, is totally without potential adverse health effects, and that the gaps in knowledge are sufficient to justify a precautionary approach.
The VDH has taken an extremely soft approach to safety by comparing Smart Meter RF emissions to the FCC’s 15 year-old MPE limits that only consider how much RF radiation, for a brief period of time, will painfully burn a grown man. This approach assumes that our bodies are TV dinners and that children and women will cook at the same speed under the same power.
Powerwatch.org.uk sums up the main failure of the VDH in one sentence:
The important thing to bear in mind with regard to exposure is not the level compared with the allowed guidelines, but the level compared with what we have been exposed to in human evolutionary terms.
There is no mention of what background RF levels are in Vermont today, or might have been in the past. Even if they had included this crucial piece of data, the unit preferred by the industry and the FCC, microwatts per centimeter squared (µW/cm^2) causes any low level of RF apear to be practically zero.
Again, from Powerwatch:
The problem occurs because [power density] is ONLY relevant to heating and it averages the power over time (6 minutes for official RF PFD measurements). The best unit of measurement for varying microwave signals at the non-thermal levels we are concerned with is volts per meter.
The VDH says that the only health effects from RF that we need to worry about are heating.
The VDH says that time averaged radio frequency fields are completely safe if they are at all less than the FCC’s MPE.
The VDH says it is acceptable to use a unit of measurement that makes common RF field exposures indistinguishable from each other.
Just to show that the VDH has provided similarly poor advice in the past, about 8 years ago they testified to the Public Service Board regarding VELCO’s desire to add high voltage transmission lines, also known as the Northwest Vermont Reliability Project.
Employing questionable logic, they reported:
1. Typical magnetic power frequency fields in the home average 0.6 milligauss and range from 0.1 to 4 mG over a period of a day.
2. New York has established guidelines of 200 mG for right-of-way edges.
3. Florida has established guidelines of 150 mG for right of way edges.
4. Neither the New York and Florida guidelines are based on health effects.
5. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) established guidelines for exposure of the public to magnetic and electric power frequency fields of 833 mG.
For the purpose of the Vermont Department of Health’s review of the Vermont Electric Power Company Northwest Vermont Reliability Project, the New York and Florida guidelines were chosen for comparison because they provide the strictest guidelines presently available, even though they are not health-based. When the New York and Florida guidelines were exceeded, the ICNIRP guidelines, which are health-based, were compared with the projected magnetic or electric power frequency fields.
In a later surrebutal testimony:
Q8. Please explain whether VDH has formed an opinion on whether the location of a pole close to the Waldorf School as provided in the Landworks proposed route poses a health risk to the students.
A8. The VDH concludes that the projected magnetic power frequency fields for all alternatives at the closest approach to the school are less than the health-based ICNIRP guideline of 833 mG and therefore would not pose an adverse health risk. The expected EMF from the pole close to the school, as proposed by Landworks, would be expected to increase the EMF from the present levels that currently result from the existing transmission line. The present average EMF level in the Fine Arts room is 1.5 mG and is projected to increase to between 20 mG and 24 mG in 2012 at the wall closest to the railroad track. The EMF strength in the middle of the room will be less due to the increased distance away from the overhead transmission line. The VDH notes that this is 34 times less than the health based ICNIRP standard and is comparable to levels of exposure from computer monitor screens, refrigerator and water coolers used in the school as listed in A7 above. However, this level would not be expected in other areas of the building, due to increased distance from the proposed transmission line and from anymetallic material in the walls. The projected EMFs as listed in DPS-VDH-7 are not of concern because these levels are typically encountered in every day life from indoor wiring, appliances, etc.
Clearly, VDH states that 0.6 mG is an average magnetic field found in homes with electricity, and many, many experts have stated that fields above 3 mG can significantly increase health problems, yet the VDH claims that increasing the field in the Waldorf School’s art room from 1.5 mG to more than 20 mG is “not of concern.”
The Vermont Department of Health has solidified their stance and refuses to protect Vermonters from high levels of superfluous electromagnetic fields.
For those of you who wish to protect your family’s health, take your own measurements and compare them to what you find away from sources of magnetic fields and RF. As a general rule, try to keep RF fields below 0.2 volts per meter and magnetic fields below 2 mG, especially where you sleep.
By Senator Bob Hartwell, Bennington Senatorial District.
On January 3, 2012, I introduced legislation in the Vermont Senate which would change significantly the way in which so called smart meters are deployed in Vermont. A device attached to the side of one’s home, the meter was sold to the Vermont Public Service Board as promoting more even use of electric power by educating ratepayers as to their use of power and how to use it more efficiently going forward. The proposed meters are wireless devices which allow utilities to read power consumption while eliminating traditional meter readers, the people we see driving in my area from time to time in little orange pick up trucks.
In fact, smart meters are not very smart at all; they bring continuous radio frequencies into the home and therefore represent a serious potential health threat to residents, particularly children and adults with health problems.
In addition, the evolving technology allows utilities and therefore, potentially, the government, unprecedented invasion of the privacy of those whose homes are so equipped. Not only will the power companies read every impulse of power allowing them to charge more, it will lead to the gathering of information about the occupants of each residence, an unprecedented invasion of the personal business and privacy of thousands of Vermonters. As technology evolves further, the clear potential exists for the collection of endless data about individuals and families, data which are not the business of anyone except those individuals and families themselves.
As if these issues are not enough, the deployment of smart meters is of little, if any, economic value to ratepayers and offer benefits only to the utilities. There is not a single value to the consumer who already knows that running a dish washer late at night uses less power than running it during the day or that plugging in an electric car should be done overnight not during the day. In fact, the real purpose is to measure power consumption as accurately as possible in order to set up rate structures advantageous to the utilities.
Also troubling is the fact that without federal government spending in the form of $70,000,000 in grants for smart meter deployment and other highly questionable programs relating to energy policy under provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, smart metres would probably not have happened. (The money would be far better spent repairing bridges and bringing more passenger rail service to Vermont thus creating rather than eliminating jobs.) If deployment is accomplished, Americans will have paid millions in tax dollars for a system which is a threat to their well being and of no meaningful economic value.
S.214 proposes to require the utilities to hard wire the meters and to use analogue and not digital technology if meters are to be installed. These requirements mitigate the health issues but not the invasion of privacy or lack of economic value to the ratepayer. The real import of the bill is to allow ratepayers to opt in to the program not to be required affirmatively to opt out and pay a $10 per month fee.
Customers should call the utilities right now and “opt out” of this poorly conceived and risky program even with the $10 per month opt out fee. I and others in the legislature will work to direct the utilities not to collect the fee and to direct the utilities to engage in smart grid alternatives clearly available which offer far less risk than smart meters which are not at all smart after all.
It is clear that so called smart meters are advantageous only to the utilities which have shown no knowledge of let alone interest in their seriously negative effects for ratepayers.
State Senator, Bennington Senatorial District
Including the Town of Wilmington in Windham County
Reposted from The Daily Caller
It’s time to sound the alarm: Power companies in Vermont have officially declared war on the privacy and wellbeing of their customers. In a rollout largely funded by a massive Department of Energy stimulus grant, Vermont’s electricity utilities have begun replacing standard, analog meters with wireless models known as “smart meters.” While such a technological upgrade may at first glance seem benign, these new meters in fact threaten our health, our privacy and the very values on which this country was founded.
Once your home’s analog meters have been replaced, these new, wireless-enabled meters begin tracking your electricity usage in granular detail. They then take this valuable, private data about your family’s specific energy usage and relay it back to the utility company. With this level of knowledge, utilities can even tell which type of appliances and devices you are using and when you use them. The utilities can either keep this information in a database waiting for it to be hacked, or else decide to sell it outright to enterprising marketers.
While it should come as no shock that the federal government loves to track our movements, what’s truly startling about these meters is that they emit harmful, potentially carcinogenic radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF). Recent peer-reviewed scientific studies have shown that prolonged exposure to this type of RF can lead to leukemia in children and reduced fertility rates in adults.
One would think that these privacy and health concerns would be enough to stop the meters in their tracks. Unfortunately, the utilities in Vermont have followed the playbook of other smart meter rollouts throughout the United States. They hold “public information sessions” but make little to no effort to publicize them. Then they turn around and point at these sessions as if they did their due diligence to alert the populace. What’s worse, even if one attends an information session, the utility’s employees never own up to the documented liabilities of this technology. All of this results in these companies continuing to erode the civil liberties and wellbeing of the very folks who keep them afloat, without so much as a speed bump in their way to slow them down.
At least one state has stepped up and blown the whistle on these new meters for what they are: a sham. Connecticut’s attorney general, George Jepsen, has come out against the use of smart meters in Connecticut. His cited reason for opposing smart meters is that they are likely going to “provide few benefits” for consumers and cost far too much to purchase and install. Regardless, this story is poised to play out again and again in states across the country.
We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and let this boondoggle continue unabated. The once-innocuous electric meter has become a weapon that threatens our privacy and health, and if we don’t do something about it soon, smart meters could wind up affixed to every home in America. Join the thousands of citizens already aware of the impacts of this technology and take a stand in your community to stop this excessive expansion of government spending and surveillance in its tracks.
Martine Victor is a graduate of Bennington College, a mother of two and a concerned citizen. She lives in Manchester Center, Vermont.
On Town Meeting day send a message to Montpelier that Vermonters do not want to risk our health, our privacy, our security, and taxpayer money to subsidize CVPS’s deployment of wireless smart meters. Vote to oppose wireless smart meters, and demand that our state build a hard-wired Smart Grid instead. Hard-wired is safe, proven, and reliable, and already being used by two Vermont utilities—without any taxpayer subsidies!
· Wireless smart meters use pulsed Radio Frequencies which are linked to serious health issues. In California alone, 49 cities and counties have moratoriums and injunctions against smart meter deployment.
· Wireless smart meters are a two-part boondoggle: $69,000,000 of taxpayer money to assist in deployment, and CVPS is also guaranteed a 9.1% return on its investment in wireless smart meters through rate increases. CVPS ADMITS RATES WILL NOT GO DOWN.
· Wireless smart meters require customers to micromanage their electrical usage. CVPS will use “dynamic pricing” with real-time data to raise prices at peak times throughout the day. Customers will have to use electricity when it is least expensive for CVPS to purchase it. (Translation: doing the laundry at 3 a.m.)
· Wireless smart meters are a security and privacy risk because real-time electrical usage is being transmitted via Radio Frequency to a central CVPS computer, revealing 24/7 whether you are home or not. Your computerized personal data can be sold or hacked.
· Wireless smart meters increase national security risks. The U.S. Inspector General revealed in the Washington Post that the Smart Grid is highly susceptible to cyber-attack and utility companies are unprepared to protect a digital, centralized grid.
· Wireless smart meters mean American meter readers laid off while American money goes straight to Canada. CVPS is merging with GMP,
a subsidiary of GAZ METRO. No domestic control of electric power.
· Wireless smart meters are NOT Green. They need batteries; analog
meters do not. They have shorter life-spans than analog meters, and to be effective, they require “smart” appliances sending Radio Frequencies, meaning dramatically more RF radiation in your home and in the environment. 160 more RF transmission towers are pending in Vermont.