‘Smart Meter’ Concerns Raised In Ocean City

OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Mayor and Council agreed to call a meeting with Delmarva Power representatives to address concerns raised over the utility’s ongoing installation of “smart meters” at residential and commercial accounts in the resort area and across the region.

Last spring, Delmarva Power began installing smart meters, or digital meters, at many of their residential and business accounts in Maryland, including Ocean City, as part of a proactive initiative to streamline the billing process and provide consumers and the utility with a better understanding of energy usage. However, concerns have been raised about the amount of radio frequency (RF) radiation the new devices emit and the potential health problems they can cause.

Former Ocean City Councilman Vince Gisriel, Jr. has been championing the cause for the elimination of smart meters, or at the very least an opt-out opportunity for  those concerned with the potential health risks, privacy and security concerns and even cost increases associated with them. On Monday, Gisriel brought his concerns to the Mayor and Council, pointing out the potential problems he has uncovered with the meters through research.

“This is a public safety issue,” he said. “The amount of wireless radiation coming from these meters has been linked to serious illness and can interfere with pacemakers, defibrillators and baby monitors. Some places in town have a whole panel of these meters next to a single unit. I don’t think a lot of people in town know about this.”

In a letter to State Senator Jim Mathias calling on the local elected official to strongly oppose the proliferation of smart meters, Gisriel outlined many of his concerns.
“Frankly, I am appalled by the advancement of this technology given the amount of testimony and evidence that has been presented by many concerned citizens who have gone on the record opposed to smart meters,” the letter reads. “There has been a myriad of health concerns raised by the widespread installation of smart meters. The amount of wireless radiation that will be unleashed in our neighborhoods and communities is mind boggling.”

Gisriel said evidence has been presented suggesting the RF radiation emitted by smart meters has been linked to a wide variety of health issues in areas where they have proliferated. He also suggested there are privacy and security concerns related to the information collected and shared by the meters.

Finally, he also said there has been no evidence presented that the smart meters are effective in lowering utility bills for consumers. Councilmember Joe Mitrecic agreed at least on the latter, pointing out an anecdotal example involving a family member.

“I agree with Vince,” he said. “We have a family member who had a smart meter installed and their electric bill doubled. She was told she had been getting off easy before because of loss at the old meter, but a 100-percent increase is not a loss at the meter.”

Gisriel is campaigning for an elimination of smart meters until all of the evidence and research regarding their potential harm can be completed. He cited an example of a 20-unit building in New York City where a bank of 20 smart meters was installed and all of the residents in the building became ill shortly thereafter. He pointed out that in Ocean City where there are hundreds of condominiums, there could be huge banks of smart meters installed adjacent to certain units.

After listening to Gisriel’s concerns, the Mayor and Council agreed to invite Delmarva Power officials to a future meeting to explain the smart meter installation process and address any of the potential health issues, safety concerns, privacy concerns and other potential impacts on local residents.