Woman’s Electricity Cut Off After Smart Meter Refusal

By Emily Tatti on 10 Apr 2014
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Resident's Electricity Cut Off After Smart Meter Refusal

A Melbourne mother has had her power cut off after trying to have her smart meter removed
Photo: Portland General Electric

A Victorian woman has fallen ill after a wireless smart meter was installed in her home – and when the government refused to remove it, she had to take matters into her own hands.

Sofia, a single mother of one, started suffering debilitating symptoms after returning from an interstate business trip – including constant headaches, nausea, vision loss and swollen legs.

After being hospitalised, she discovered a smart meter had been installed in her bedroom wall without her knowledge, which coincided with the start of her symptoms.

She was subsequently diagnosed with EHS (electro hypersensitivity), believed to be triggered by her smart meter’s microwave radiation.

“Smart meters have attracted controversy since the beginning of their 2009 rollout…”

In what would be a similar experience for many households, her pleas to have the smart meter removed were ignored by both her power supplier United Energy and government agencies, so she resorted to having the technology removed herself.

Soon after, her health started to improve.

However, on March 14 of this year, Sofia’s electricity was disconnected without any warning or prior written notification, and she was informed that unless she reinstalls the smart meter in her home, she will not be supplied with power.

This flies in the face of a recent letter distributed by United Energy, which states that it will honour consumers’ requests “to not have the smart meter installed at this time…” provided they pay additional charges.

Entreaties to reinstate Sofia’s old, non-wireless smart meter have fallen on deaf ears, and for the last four weeks, she and her daughter have been unable to access basic utilities including their fridge, washing machine or heating.

Stop Smart Meters Australia, a grassroots movement set up to combat the installation of smart meters, has launched a petition to have Sofia’s electricity reconnected and her old smart meter installed. Thus far, they have 500 of the 5,000 signatures needed.

“In what would be a similar experience for many households, her pleas to have the smart meter removed were ignored…”

Smart meters have attracted controversy since the beginning of their 2009 rollout, due to the costs, health, fire and privacy risks associated with the technology, which transmits an electricity usage report to power distributors every 30 minutes.

While authorities claim the meters are safe, common symptoms such as headaches and sleep deprivation have been reported by residents in the media, and a safety audit was announced by Energy Minister Nicholas Kotsiras at the start of this year in answer to the mounting number of public complaints.

It is unclear why Sofia was not offered the right to refuse the installation of her meter.

In the meantime, power companies claim to be exploring a permanent opt-out fee, which could be introduced in 2015.

If you would like to sign the petition to have Sofia’s electricity reinstated, please visit Change.org.

About the Author

Emily Tatti is a writer and editor with a Bachelor of Creative Arts and a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing. She has a strong interest in the arts industry, and has contributed to publications such as Lip Magazine and Kill Your Darlings.

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