Topanga Canyon News
Activist Group Seeks Ban of Smart Meters
By Damian Kelly
Jun 15, 2012 - 11:27:44 AM

TOPANGA CANYON—A local organization is working hard to ensure their city is free of “smart meters” as they believe it causes harmful effects to the brain and body.

According to numerous reports, Topangans for a Radiation Free Community are hoping to halt Southern California Edison, the city’s power provider, from executing their plan to install meters that records a household’s energy use hour by hour in western Los Angeles County and eastern Ventura County as part of the Edison SmartConnect program.

Edison claims the smart meters will enable residential and small-business customers to take advantage of new programs and services in the near future. 

Elizabeth Barris, founder of the People’s Initiative Foundation (, feels differently as she recently moved from Santa Monica to Topanga to get away from the smart meters in her building that she said caused her massive headaches, nausea, heart palpitations and insomnia.

Barris said that smart meters have been implicated in serious health effects, such as cancer, heart arrhythmia and heart attack, birth defects and diabetes.

On her website she writes that the smart meters operate in mesh networks, transmitting radiation in millisecond pulses many times a minute throughout the day and night.  Barris also believes the meters pose a privacy concern as she says Edison have plans to utilize customer information from within the home.

Edison has scheduled smart meter installations for L.A. County. Photo courtesy of OC Black Chamber of Commerce
Resident Ianthe Mauro believes the meters are being used for more malicious purposes.  She has said they are wire-tapping devices that are capable of knowing what room a person is in and what applicance they are using.  Mauro also added that the devices can be easily hacked which will give criminals the ability to know when homeowners aren’t home.

An Edison official has disputed these beliefs saying the smart meters only collect information such as the total power use hour by hour and they have no technical capabilities nor do they have any interest in selling customers’ energy use data.

They added that the technology will help customers better manage electricity by allowing them to log on to in order to track their energy usage and set a budget if necessary.

Barris has worked to fight against the smart meters. She held a rally at the Topanga Library on May 31 to unify and protest against the smart meter installations with meetings, direct mail, e-mail and petitions.

The California Public Utilities Commission allowed customers beginning in April to opt out of the smart meters on their home with a one-time fee of $75 and a monthly fee of $10.

Edison claimed these fees were adopted in order to pay meter readers and the extra administrative costs to maintain a separate billing system.

Barris has said the process to opt out of the smart meters program is complicated.  She claims Edison sent out a letter to customers who were on delay list they were going to have their original analog meter replaced with a smart one if they didn’t call again by a certain date to opt out even though they were already on the delay list.

To protest these fees, Barris advocated for civil disobedience when it comes to the opt-out fees, as in not paying them and sending letters to Edison.

More information about smart meters can be found at smartconnectfaq.htm.  To be placed on the Edison Opt Out list, residents can call (800) 810-2369 (English) or (800) 477-4455 (Spanish).

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