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Gering City Council hears concerns on smart meters
March 13, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Members of the Gering City Council declined to take action on a request to opt out of the city’s RF smart metering system for utilities.

Donna Perez of San Diego, Calif. spoke on behalf of her mother, who lives in Gering. She claimed the meters, which emit radio pulses for electronic reading, has been damaging her mother’s health since they were installed in 2010.

Perez requested the council allow her mother to opt out of using the smart meters and returning to the former analog display meters. She said she experienced some of the same symptoms when her city converted to smart meters. However, two years ago, California passed legislation allowing people to opt out of the metering system. He said her health improved because she had that option.

Perez shared with the council a 2012 report from the American Academy of Environmental Medicine on the long-term effects of electromagnetic and radio frequency exposure. It recommends people with conditions such as neurodegenerative diseases, headaches, depression, fetal abnormalities, genetic defects, cancer and liver disease could benefit from avoiding exposure to the radio signals.

Kevin Booker, chief electrical inspector for the state of Nebraska, said this was the first case of that nature he’s addressed. He read the signals coming off the meters in question and found the power output was significantly lower than household devices such as microwave ovens and cell phones. He said the neighbor’s wi-fi signal was stronger than what was coming from the smart meters. Another stronger source of RF signals was from local television stations.

“Smart meters emit a fraction of a watt, even less power than medical alert bracelets,” he said. “They’re basically like a modem that communicates with your computer.”

But Perez said humans operate by electrical pulses and it’s still unknown what effect outside RF signals will have on the human body. And none of the devices have been tested for exposure to humans. “No one realizes that we’re all being tested on and it’s kind of sad,” she said.

After about 45 minutes of discussion, council members agreed that until there is scientific evidence of the harmful effects from radio waves, they would take no action. However, Gering Public Works Director Pat Heath agreed to come to the woman’s home and test for any sources of radio waves and determine if there are any other hazards that might be contributing to her health condition.

Before adjourning, the annual review for City Administrator Lane Danielzuk was read into the public record. Council member Jill McFarland said he has been doing an excellent job and pointed out his work on developing alternatives to the county-proposed 911 communications agreement.

Council agreed to a five percent raise for 2014, raising the administrator’s annual salary to $110,500.
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