Burlington, NC:: Rachel Robertson smiles as she talks about her vegetable garden. This season she planted two different types of tomatoes, “These are Mountain Fresh, and these are Celebrity,” said Robertson.
Some of the tomatoes a bright red while others are still green and need a bit more time on the vine.
What she doesn’t like in her garden is a new power meter attached to her house, “We did not authorize it, it is an uninvited guest,” said Robertson.
The meter was installed by Duke Energy and is part of their new “smart meters” being installed across the state. The meters communicate using radio frequencies. Robertson convinced it’s causing her to lose sleep along with other long-term health risks, “It’s horrible, I have no words for it, the stress and anxiety I have gone through,” said Robertson.
Duke Energy is in the process of switching 3.4 million customers in North Carolina to smart meters, about 1.5 million have already been installed, “Numerous health studies have indicated no real concerns for health effects for smart meters,” said Duke Energy Spokesperson Jeff Brooks.
Some experts believe those results are flawed and that it is not clear what the long-term effects could be. Dr. David Carpenter is a graduate of Harvard Medical School, “Exposure to radio frequency radiation, at elevated levels for long periods of time increases the risk of cancer,” said Dr. Carpenter. “It damages the nervous system and adversely affects the reproductive organs.”
Robertson is convinced the meter is affecting her husband’s health, “It is a constant surge of energy coming in, it’s like living in a microwave,” said Robertson.
There is good news for people like Robertson who feel the smart meter is impacting their health. In October, North Carolina will start offering an opt-out clause for smart meters, “The opt-out policy will allow them to have a non-communicating meter instead of a communicating smart meter,” said Brooks.
The N.C. Utilities Commission set up the opt-out option for customers concerned the meters pose a health risk. If you would like to opt out you can go to: www.duke-energy.com/smartmeter and starting October 1st you can sign up.
Duke Energy will charge customers a one-time $150 fee and monthly charge around $12 to read the meter. Customers that have a notarized note from a doctor will not have to pay the initial fee.