Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Opposition to smart meters

Smart meters are one piece of creating a "smarter" electricity grid, and provide more detailed information about demand and allow for timeshifting demand to periods of more ample supply, etc. According to the Los Angeles Times, in "Opponents of PG&E 'smart meters' stand firm," opposition to smart meters is present in California and Maine over concern about electromagnetic radiation.

From the article:

The meters transmit data about electrical use over wireless networks to the utility company, enabling it to assess power demands and make adjustments to prevent blackouts, and giving consumers real-time data to help them reduce consumption. They are an integral part of efforts to create a "smart grid" nationwide that uses electricity more efficiently and can better accommodate alternative energy sources.

Nonetheless, finishing the installation in California won't be easy. The new meters have galvanized an unusual alliance of environmentalists, city planners, private land owners and politically conservative activists worried about the health effects, accuracy and privacy of smart meters, as well as jurisdictional conflicts with PG&E.

The "tea party" recently hosted a gathering of smart-meter opponents in Santa Barbara.

Protesters also gathered this month in Sacramento and at PG&E's San Francisco headquarters. Joshua Hart, director of a group called Stop Smart Meters!, said participants included "people with heartbreaking personal stories to tell about sleeping in the parking lots of churches and department stores to escape the bursts of electromagnetic radiation that have made them ill and fearful."

Chattanooga Tennessee by the way is the first U.S. community to have a program to install smart meters uniformly across the utility district. (It also comes with broadband computer service.)

In a recent issue of the New Yorker, there is a fascinating story about mental illness, deinstitutionalization, and the inability to deal with people who do not acknowledge mental illness (25% of people in jail or prison have mental illness), the lack of adequate community care, and how some people "can't be helped" and die as a result.

In the same issue, seemingly unrelated, is a book review of a book on the history of vaccination including the opposition to vaccination in some quarters (some people say that autism is a result of vaccination, etc.), that this opposition has been present since the beginning of the development of vaccination programs out of a sense that people shouldn't be forced to do anything, and that how small numbers of people can still be safe without being vaccinated because of the "herd reservoir" effect that most people have been vaccinated, but that if this number increases only slightly, the prospect for reviving epidemics increases.

It strikes me that opposition to smart meters comes out of the same kind of thinking about individuality and the power to stay apart (seemingly). It's interesting because people become very selective about the type of government power and services that they are okay with or willing to consume--you don't see many people repudiating the value of the street network...

It's as if the more knowledge we have, the less we are willing to use it.

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At 5:45 PM, Blogger Dave said...

Why make such a complicated and round about debate...Obviously the frequencies of current day electronic devices are dangerous and quite obviously the consumer is not allowed to say anything about the radiation that is affecting him,his FAMILY AND HIS DOG.THIS,AS YOU ARE AWARE (being a spokesperson for the pseudo government agenda) is 'just so unfashionable' to oppose.I hope you get excellent bandwidth when the microwaves convert to electricity in your nervous system system


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