Members of the Wireless Radiation Protection Coalition will answer questions and distribute fliers today at the Queen Ka'ahumanu Center as part of a national campaign to stop "Smart Grid" metering programs by power utilities.
Citing what the group says are "thousands of instances of 'smart' meter fires, health problems and violations of privacy laws," the coalition wants an "immediate moratorium on 'smart meter' installations."
Maui Electric Co. has a "smart meter" program ongoing in Maui Meadows in Kihei. There, more than 100 meters have been installed to help MECO reduce peak demand for electricity, improve service, help customers make informed energy-use decisions and integrate renewable energy.
Resident Ken Molina, a volunteer in the program, said he was happy to have his smart meter installed.
"I was unsure at first, but did my homework, weighed the pros and cons, and decided that the positives outweighed the negatives," he said. "I enjoy being able to see my energy usage on an hourly basis. This has made me make better decisions in energy usage."
According to a report by the California Council on Science and Technology, radio frequency exposure from a person standing 3 to 10 feet from a smart meter is 125 to 1,250 times less than a person taking a cellphone call.
During hearings earlier this year before the Energy Board in Quebec, 55 Canadian scientists and engineers issued a statement in support of smart meter technology. In part, the group said there "is no clear link between exposure to radio frequencies (within existing safety standards) and any health effects whatsoever."
According to the anti-smart grid coalition, the meters emit strong bursts of microwave radiation that the World Health Organization "labeled a Class 2b carcinogen in May of 2011."
That would put smart meters in the same category as lead, DDT and chloroform, the group said.
The group said the American Academy of Environmental Medicine has warned people about possible medical conditions, and that people have reported ringing in their ears, headaches, nausea, heart irregularities, memory loss and anxiety after a smart meter was installed on their home.
The group also maintains that the meters constitute an invasion of privacy because they can reveal people's daily schedules, use of individual appliances, whether they use certain medical equipment or other personal information.
Maui Electric spokeswoman Kau'i Awai-Dickson said the electric company has a strict corporate policy on security and protection of customer information.
"We want to ensure that as we develop these technologies, the highest possible level of security is integrated," she said. "The safety of our customers and our employees is our highest priority, and we take every precaution to ensure safety is first and foremost with this and any project we undertake."