'My advice is to say no to smart meters'

The planned installation of smart meters in North Otago homes has prompted several organisations to urge people to refuse them.

Oamaru man Rob Hutchins' Electro-sensitivity Trust supports people who have issues with electrical appliances, some suffering severe pain and headaches from devices using radio frequencies such as Wi-Fi and mobile phones.

It lobbies for recognition of the issue as physiological and not psychological.

''My advice is to say `no' to smart meters,'' he said yesterday.

'' . . . get independent advice because they cannot be said to be safe.''

This biggest issue was the ''woefully out of date'' NZ Standard introduced in 1999 for radio frequency devices, which only covered heating of the devices, not radio frequency emissions.

Smart meters send information to the electricity retailer using microwave frequencies, such as more accurate and frequent reading of electricity consumption.

Installation of the first smart meters on the Network Waitaki network will start next month when Meridian fits mabout 8500 meters.

Meridian, Contact and Trustpower maintainthe meters are safe and that there is no evidence from New Zealand or internationally that smart meters pose health and environmental risks.

However, they say if customers are concerned about having meters installed, they can discuss the issues and possible alternatives.

Mr Hutchins disputed a comment from Trustpower community relations manager Graeme Purches that much of the information being disseminated via the internet was misleading and there was no reputable peer-reviewed scientific evidence to support the claims.

He said there was a large amount of research from independent sources showing the meters were not safe.

Some parts of the United States had banned installation of the meters.

Katherine Smith, who set up New Zealand website stopsmartmeters, said radiation from smart meters was ''not trivial'' and had been classified as a ''possible carcinogen'' by the World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Organic NZ editor Philippa Jamieson said people should not be forced to have transmitting devices like smart meters in their homes if they did not want them.

An Oamaru couple, who do not want to be named, have told their retailer they won't have a smart meter in their house.

david.bruce@odt.co.nz

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