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Another Nightmare Before Christmas: “Smart Meter Catches Fire, Utility Company Denies Homeowners’ Damage Claim”

By Patricia Burke of Safe Tech International, Image Courtesy Floris Freshman, (because we are the ones reporting the real history)

In case you missed it, ‘smart meters’ were in the news again, in Maine, and Virginia. We now add a Maryland fire and company response (non-response) to the list of customer nightmares caused by the unsafe, insecure, unsustainable, unwise ‘smart’ grid ‘smart’ meters.

Maine: Smart Meters Do Not Improve Storm Response

It’s wintertime, and on December 18, 2022, WABI Channel 5 Central Maine posted the headline: “First major snowstorm of the season leaves thousands without power.”  Again.

Safe Tech International reported, “Remember that in 2017, as reported by Maine Public, an “October Windstorm Took Down CMP’s $200 Million Smart Meter Network.”

“When power went out to some half a million Mainers after the October windstorm, another system went down too — Central Maine Power’s $200 million smart-grid communications network that, among other things, was supposed to improve outage communications and storm recovery.”

Maine Public noted, “Well this was a colossal system failure,” says state Rep. Seth Berry, a Bowdoinham Democrat who co-chairs the Legislature’s Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology. “It was a total and, until now, unrevealed failure of a system that CMP used to increase profits to its foreign shareholders and to lay off lineworkers and meter readers. Importantly, it was costly to ratepayers because just like we paid for AMI in the first place with interest, Maine residents and businesses are on the hook for the vast majority of the cleanup costs, with interest.”

Virginia: Health Vulnerable Residents Without Power, For Refusing a ‘Smart’ Meter

A storm didn’t knock out the power for homeowners in Virginia; it was the actions of the utility company.

Smart meter health harm reports dating back more than a decade are documented at many websites, including Stop Smart MetersEMF Safety NetworkSmart Meter Harm, and Smart Grid Awareness, funded and staffed by the public for the public, because the industry and its partners aren’t telling the real story. (Remember that the public and their health care providers have been mostly both kept in the dark about reported harm caused by exposures to dirty electricity and radio frequencies and/or powerline transmissions introduced by the meters.  This includes intentional misrepresentations about how often the meters transmit, as reported by the EMF Safety Network.  Hint: It’s not “about 4 times a day”, or “every 4 hours”- for PG&E it was 190,000 pulses per day. And it is making people sick.)

Smart Meters, Dirty Electricity and Disease- Sam Milham

As epidemiologist Sam Milham reported, individuals were contacting him a decade ago, when the smart grid was being deployed in California, before the meters were even installed on their own homes. Individuals described the experience of their nervous system being induced by unnatural frequencies, with symptoms including headaches, tinnitus, brain fog, and sleep disturbance.

Children’s Health Defense: TAKE ACTION: Virginia Families Made to Choose Between Smart Meters or No Power at All!

The Children’s Health Defense reported, “Despite freezing temperatures and with little to no warning, Dominion Energy Virginia showed up at the homes of more than half a dozen families in Virginia and shut off their power because they refused to have “smart” meters installed in their homes.”

See the video at this link: https://live.childrenshealthdefense.org/chd-tv/shows/the-peoples-testaments/dominion-energy-cuts-power-to-residents-who-refuse-smart-meters/

If you are celebrating the holidays with access to heat, water, electricity, and food safety, learn about the plight of Virginia residents, reported by the Children’s Health Defense, and take quick action (10 seconds) to help here: https://childrenshealthdefense.org/community-forum/take-action-virginia-families-without-power/

Learn More: SAY NO TO “SMART” METERS – Virginians for Safe Technology

Learn More about Health Effects, December 2022 (PDF) Wireless technology is an environmental stressor requiring new understanding and approaches in health care (researchgate.net) by Julie Mccredden, Naomi Cook, Steve Weller, and Victor Leach.

Baltimore: Ho Hum….Just Another Smart Meter Fire

On December 20, WMAR Channel 2 News, Baltimore aired an investigative news report about smart meter, in their series, “If it’s a matter for you, it’s a Matter for Mallory.” “Mallory is a consumer reporter working for you to get a response when your calls and emails go unanswered. Mallory makes you aware of scams, bad businesses, and laws that are on your side. “

Her report, ”Smart meter catches fire, utility company denies homeowners’ damage claim, BGE: “Equipment failure due to normal wear and tear” tells the story of a Baltimore County couple who said “their smart meter “exploded” causing nearly $1,500 in damage to their home. They filed a claim with BGE to pay for the repairs, but it was denied.

“Susan Kahl was watching TV at around 10:15 p.m. on October 5 when she heard a loud noise.

“I heard a softer sound and then I heard what I thought was a motorcycle or dirt bike backfiring and then the lights went out and the generator kicked on,” Kahl said.” [ ]

The next morning, Her husband said, “you better call BGE. He said that meter exploded and there was melted metal on the glass plate of the meter, and it had melted the siding and you can see a little bit where the soot is on the telephone box,” said Kahl.

The electrician added that he hadn’t seen this before, so the Kahls called BGE.

“And the technician didn’t come until 5:15 in the evening and he said he’d never seen anything like that happen. And then the next day, they sent somebody to follow up and look at it, and he said he’d never seen something like that happen,” Susan Kahl recalled.”

Stop Smart Meters Fighting for health, privacy, and safety

Informed individuals following the smart meter fire issue might grant that the utility company employees might not have actually seen a melted meter in person, but there is no reason why the company should not have realized that there is a risk of smart meters malfunctioning, melting, exploding, and causing fires, because there have been fires associated with smart meters since they were first installed, including fatalities in Dallas, Reno, and Vacaville reported by Stop Smart Meters.

“The Coalition to Stop Smart Meters in BC Smart Meters, Cell Towers, Smart Phones, 5G and all things that radiate RF Radiation

Sharon Noble and her colleagues at “The Coalition to Stop Smart Meters in BC” have been tracking the smart meter fire phenomenon over the last decade.

An on-going list of fires, fire reports, lawsuits re fires is here.

Smart Meter Harm

Nina Beety of Smart Meter Harm (Disabled rights, fires, overbilling, health problems, inaccuracy, hacking & cybersecurity, interference, privacy loss, and more….) has provided comprehensive analysis of the smart meter fire issue.


Normal Wear and Tear on the Meter

The Baltimore fire, investigative report by “Matter for Mallory” shared another way that consumers have been harmed by the smart meter roll-out; insult to injury.

“The Kahls filed a claim with BGE thinking they’d be reimbursed, but several days later, they received a denial letter.

“They were denying our claim because that was normal wear and tear on the meter,” said Susan Kahl.

BGE investigated the event and could not find any willful default or neglect on their part that led to the power outage/surge. “Our investigation concluded that the cause of the power outage/surge was equipment failure due to normal wear and tear,” according to the letter sent to the Kahls. [ ]

The Kahls estimate their smart meter was installed around eight years ago.

WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii contacted the Maryland State Fire Marshal. In the last 10 years, they’ve received reports of 38 fires connected to smart or regular meters.

“There are tens of thousands, if not millions of these smart meters located across the state. It’s not something we’re focused on, but certainly something we want to keep an eye on,” said Oliver Alkire, senior deputy and spokesperson with the Maryland State Fire Marshal.

If Less than $50,000, and No Hospitalization or Death, Who is Counting?

The Maryland Public Service Commission, the state agency that regulates public utilities, only gets notification from utilities of meter events when property damage exceeds $50,000 or results in a hospitalization or fatality. A spokeswoman said they’re only aware of one meter-related incident in the last few years.

BGE wasn’t available for an on-camera interview and said they cannot comment on the Kahl’s claim since it’s “a customer issue.”

The Kahls feel it’s the utility company’s equipment, they should take responsibility. And with no explanation on what exactly caused the failure or what they can do in the future, they worry about it happening again.

“Yah, I’ll tell you the truth, I’m afraid to go back upstairs and go to bed because you just don’t know,” said Susan Kahl.

In an email, BGE spokesperson Richard Yost provided this safety information:

“Customer and employee safety is our top priority. BGE inspects residential gas meters for leaks, atmospheric corrosion and any other abnormal operating observations. Commercial meters are inspected once a year, residential once every three years, and any inside meter assemblies once every five years.

Sofastaii also checked with the Maryland Office of the People’s Counsel who said these matters are generally an issue for homeowners insurance, however, the Kahl’s claim was less than their deductible. (more at link)

In her press release “Fires And Electrical Problems From Smart Meters And Digital Utility Meters” Nina Beety explained,

Learn More: OVERVIEW: Fire and Electrical Hazards from ‘Smart’, Wireless, PLC, and Digital Utility Meters   Nina Beety July, 2019

The EMF Safety Network: We envision a world free of EMF pollution where children, communities, and nature thrive!

The first early fire reports came from California, one of the first states to widely deploy smart meters with stimulus funding during the Obama administration.

Smart Meter Fires and Explosions

The EMF Safety Network states, “The following is a compilation of reports from the US , Australia and Canada about fires, explosions, electrical problems or burned out appliances due to Smart Meter installations.  For a summary of the problems, read this: http://emfsafetynetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Summary-of-Evidence-on-Smart-Meter-Fires.pdf Please note: Unfortunately, many links to news articles are no longer available. You can try finding the story using the url and the Wayback machine: https://archive.org/web/

Here’s very important advice from an insurance specialist who is well aware of smart meter fires.

The major issues in moving forward in dealing with defective Smart Meters and Fires which result from their malfunction are as follows:

The fire departments investigating the fires need to have a category established in their incident reports to indicate a Smart Meter malfunction should be considered.  As it stands now, the cause is identified as electrical in nature, or cause cannot be identified.

The function of the responding utility companies needs to be changed.  The fire departments which are in route to a fire scene will call the local utility company requesting they come to shut off the electricity, and gas. The utility companies will ask a matter of practice remove the Smart Meter from the loss scene and hold it safely in their vaults.  The only way that an Insurance Company can get to the meter at the present time is to subpoena the meter for testing, and the subpoena cost money.

Finally, since I have been identified as the only Insurance Industry person speaking out against the Smart Meter debacle I can say that the Insurance Industry needs a change of heart and mind.  I was told verbally, face to face, that the odds are still in favor of the Insurance Company.  It is still cheaper to pay the claim and subrogate against the utility company for recovery.  However, as the Smart Meters age and the lithium batteries in them begin to wear out, leaking into the meter’s interior and going up in flames  the balance sheet will tilt in favor of investigation.

I can personally state that it took the company which I work for 18 months of letter writing and subpoenas to obtain the opportunity to perform destructive testing on the meter that failed and caused the fire.  Even then, the settlement was sealed and the final payment to be kept secret from even me.

Insurance companies need to understand that the investigation of a claim involves determining the cause of the loss, and if that cause can be held responsible financially for the damages. If then takes the adjuster to a failed smart meter so be it.

Respectfully, Norman Lambe, Property Claim Specialist, Precision Risk Management, Inc., For Century-National Insurance, Co. (10/2019)

Direct testimony of Norman Lambe http://documents.dps.ny.gov/public/Common/ViewDoc.aspx?DocRefId=%7B7B8506E8-4FCB-41C1-952E-5DCF899951A5%7D   

More at link: http://emfsafetynetwork.org/smart-meters/smart-meter-fires-and-explosions/

Smart Grid Awareness.org

Another site providing historical analysis of the smart meter debacle, including fires, is here:


EI WellSpring, What Kind of Meter Do You Have?

Smart Meter (eiwellspring.org)

The meter on the Kahl’s home in Maryland was reportedly about eight years old.

In the article Security Risks and Technology Obsolescence Reduce Smart Meter Expected Lifetimes, Smart Grid Awareness explained, ” In Canada, the Ontario Auditor General’s report from 2014 stated: “The estimated useful life for a typical smart meter is 15 years, compared to 40 years for an analog meter.  The dis­tribution companies we consulted said the 15-year estimate is overly optimistic because smart meters … will likely be obsolete by the time they are re-verified as required by the federal agency Measurement Canada every six to 10 years.”

If you don’t already have a transmitting meter, you may soon. If you do, it could be reaching a stage of “normal wear and tear” for which you would be liable if a fire ensues.

It’s time to wisely, responsibly, and honestly address the misinformation about smart meters and other wireless technologies.

Image Courtesy Floris Freshman
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