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California | Environment & Forest Defense | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Family with Young Children Forced to Live in the Cold and Dark for Refusing a LADWP Smart
by J Hart
Thursday Mar 28th, 2013 3:21 PM
LOS ANGELES- Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has terminated electricity to the family of a middle school teacher, her husband, and their six children for refusing to have a smart meter on their home, which they say caused their family serious health problems. The family has been living without power for six weeks now, in the heart of LA.
Video interviews with the family at: http://stopsmartmeters.org/2013/03/28/family-with-young-children-forced-to-live-in-the-cold-and-dark-for-refusing-a-ladwp-smart-meter/>

In July 2012, LADWP installed a smart meter on Derek and Anura Lawson’s home without notice or consent, part of a smart meter pilot program. Other houses in the neighborhood still have their analog meters.

That same month their four youngest children started to have serious health problems. The mother, Anura Lawson writes they had fevers “out of nowhere”, “as high as 105”, and they “began to have problems controlling their bodily fluids, our five year old began peeing and pooping herself, our four year began to display the same problems…” Anura also struggled with migraines, insomnia, concentration problems and other health symptoms.

The family requested LADWP restore the analog meter. LADWP then gave them what they said was an analog meter, but the health symptoms persisted. The family objected. According to Anura, LADWP ridiculed them. She says, “When I called customer service, “Jennifer” laughed at me, telling me they would not remove the meter.”

When an agent of LADWP met with the family he said, “This isn’t one of those ‘SmartMeters’ that have been making all those people sick. These are RF meters. Totally different.” He talked about how safe radio was and that it had been used for years. Meanwhile the children’s health problems persisted.

Clearly something had to be done.

In January 2013, after repeated, unfulfilled requests to LADWP for help, the family restored a true analog meter obtained from Jerry Day. The mother wrote that after the analog meter was restored the children’s symptoms “diminished greatly, they no longer get high fevers, or suffer from loss of their bodily function.”

Two weeks later, LADWP disconnected their electricity. Anura saw the workers scale a neighbor’s wall, climb the power pole in their backyard and literally cut the wire to their home. Since February 11th the Lawsons have been living without electricity, without heat, without use of their appliances and without lights.

Joshua Hart, director of Stop Smart Meters! says, “Pilot programs are supposed to be a test to see how a new system operates. When problems crop up, you don’t punish customers for reporting them- you fix the problem.”

The family has been using candles and battery powered lanterns to see at night. They are cooking on a camping stove outdoors, and keeping their food cold in ice chests. The family says the incident has been extremely stressful.

This incident echoes other bullying incidents around the country, where people have been cut off after having had their smart meters removed due to health issues.

Sandi Maurer, director of the EMF Safety Network states, “Federal law states customers should be offered smart meters, not be forced to have them on their homes. LADWP is exceeding its authority by mandating these devices.”

Jerry Day, a video producer on the forefront of empowering customers to stand up for their constitutional rights states, “This is inexcusable. This is not responsible power company management. This is senseless abuse of utility customers.”

We agree. The Lawsons need their power switched on and an analog utility meter restored on their home. NOW.

In contrast to this situation, Liz Barris of the People’s Initiative Foundation today reports LADWP has removed a smart meter from a property in Hollywood Hills. She says it took two weeks of wrangling with them until a senior manager Vincent Zabukovec agreed to the switch (who can by the way be reached at 213-367-2725 if you are a LADWP customer who wants to “opt out” as well) . Here’s Liz’s video of the meter swap:

Article written by Sandi Maurer, EMF Safety Network and Joshua Hart, Stop Smart Meters!