Big Brother into power

To the Editor:

Is the National Security Agency the biggest threat to our privacy? Maybe. But it soon may be overtaken.

The award-winning film “Take Back Your Power” (that is, your electric power) will be shown at the Southwest Harbor Public Library next week. It will introduce you to the new world of the smart (electrical) grid and the smart (electric) meter.

So-called “smart” meters have been and are being installed on a startlingly massive scale all over the world, including a large part of Maine. They are supposed to conserve energy and cut costs.

However, in the real world, they have not only failed to live up to these claims, but also pose a serious threat to health and privacy.

They are ultimately intended to communicate with the “smart appliances” beginning to appear on the market. This means that the electric company – but also anyone hacking into the meters’ data streams – can gather and store data about a home’s electricity and appliance usage. This information can tell them when and which appliances are being used in houses, and thus about the occupants’ lifestyles. Consider also the new smart TV technology that recognizes who in the house is watching TV, and where, and you can see where this leads. And finally, it becomes possible for someone to remotely turn off the house’s individual appliances – or the whole house.

In Maine, Central Maine Power has already installed some 600,000 smart meters. It has done so with the blessing of the state’s Public Utilities Commission, which has refused to take account of the hundreds of peer-reviewed studies that have shown that the high-intensity pulsed microwave (wireless) radiation emitted by these meters throughout the day has destructive effects on biological systems.

In our part of the state, Emera has for now opted for a type of meter somewhat less dangerous to health and privacy, relying instead on communication over power lines. This produces what’s known as “dirty electricity,” which has its own litany of health issues.

Those who assume that objection to these meters is some kind of “conspiracy theory” might well listen to the largest electric utility in Massachusetts. NSTAR responded to that state’s Department of Public Utilities order to roll out smart meters by saying, “There is no rational basis for the implementation of AMI” (smart meters infrastructure), citing numerous serious concerns.

Whichever kind of meter you end up with, you can’t avoid a serious underlying problem that has the potential to affect everyone in the country – the very real potential for an unprecedented nationwide power outage resulting from a cyber attack on the national smart grid network being built around these not-so-smart-meters. One security analyst described the security situation in the electrical industry as “chaos.”

Find out more on Jan. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Southwest Harbor Public Library.

Dick Atlee

Southwest Harbor

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