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About 20 people at a public meeting in Oamaru last night were urged to consider refusing to have smart meters on electricity supplies to their homes.
The meeting is the first of two this week and was called by a group of Oamaru residents concerned about the introduction of smart meters for electricity consumers starting next month by Meridian Energy, but to be followed by other electricity retailers.
The meeting was chaired by Oamaru man Rob Hutchins, who established the Electro-sensitivity Trust in New Zealand.
Meridian plans to install smart meters for about 8500 customers on Network Waitaki, which stretches from Shag Point to the Waitaki River and inland to the Hakataramea Valley and Ohau.
Smart meters send information to the electricity retailer using microwave frequencies, which some research says harms people and the environment.
Electricity retailers say there is no credible research in New Zealand or internationally that supports that. Last night, Mr Hutchins produced reports and research from two boxes of information and outlined the effects these had identified.
''There is a huge amount of research from independent researchers that says they (smart meters) cannot be considered to be safe and may be harmful,'' he said.
Smart meters were being foisted on people without their informed consent. The meeting had a list of websites, DVDs and research people could access to get information on the effects of smart meters to make an informed decision on whether to accept them.
There was also a form letter they could send to their electricity retailers and Network Waitaki refusing to have a smart meter.
They were advised to keep a paper trail of their refusal and follow that up with phone calls to ensure it was recorded against their account.
A second public meeting will be held at the Oamaru Club on Sunday at 1pm.