All hell broke loose at a La Plata Electric Association meeting held on October 8, 2014, in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

Approximately 60 residents from Pagosa Springs and neighboring Durango, Colorado, gathered to discuss LPEA’s threat of an opt-out fee of $50 for its co-op members who declined the installation of AMI meters, commonly referred to as “smart meters.” The following day, October 9, 2014, a meeting was held in Durango, Colorado, attended by approximately 70 residents of both communities. Michael Dreyspring, CEO of LPEA, presided over both meetings. Very few Board members or staff were present at either meeting.

At the Pagosa meeting, Michael Dreyspring was in command for no more than two minutes and 40 seconds before the miffed residents of Pagosa Springs went volcanic and LPEA lost any semblance of control. As their pedantic power point presentation went up in flames, so did an outspoken and furious crowd.

Meeting clip #1: Justify fees?
“Where is the data justifying your opt-out fees?” Listen as typical evasion takes place. Why will they not have an open discussion?

Though the Durango meeting was slightly more subdued than the Pagosa Springs’ meeting, members there were also extremely angry and ended up walking out after about an hour of voicing their opinions because they realized that even though the purported purpose of the meeting was to gather information for LPEA staff and board members to discuss in determining a possible opt-out fee, no official recording of everyone’s comments was being made. And, as attendees at the Durango meeting attested, only cursory, sporadic notes were taken by a member of the LPEA staff. The co-op members concluded that the meeting was a sham.

Cat calls and fireworks omitted, the following issues were presented to the LPEA representatives brave enough to show up for the meetings in both towns:
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 in part states that utilities “shall provide each customer requesting a time-based rate with a time-based meter,” not extorting or shutting off their utilities when they refuse one.
  • There was no informed consent on the part of co-op members to allow these meters to be installed.
  • Co-op members never opted-in so why did they have to opt-out?
  • Many only realized the installation was taking place because they happened to be at home or arrived during the deployment process.
  • Some signed an opt-out form refusing the meter and LPEA installed it anyway.
  • Installers arrived in neighborhoods like a military stealth operation using personal vehicles and installing meters on members’ properties only if nobody was home.
  • If “smart meters” are the best thing since sliced bread, why did LPEA feel compelled to both sneak around and lie?
  • Members were intimidated and threatened with an exorbitant fee if they did not allow the forced installation.
  • The opt-out fee perfectly fits the criteria of the Webster’s Dictionary definition of “extortion.”
  • The opt-out fee is purely punitive without any basis in reality.
  • LPEA advertised the threatened $25-$50 opt-out fee without any support documents to justify the fee.
  • LPEA is violating the terms of the co-operative by acting autonomously, not protecting its members’ interests and placing them in danger.
  • Whether the opt-out fee is 50 cents or $50, neither are acceptable. To allow any opt-out fee to be charged concedes that LPEA has a right to penalize members for their noncompliance to a life-threatening technology and punish members for their proper exercise of rights.
  • There are many alternative options available for circumventing meter-reading fees including call-in readings, photo readings, mailed in postcard readings, etc.
  • AMI meters and pulsed radiation are a proven health threat.
  • If you Google “AMI meter dangers” you will get more than a million articles.
  • If you Google “AMI meter health dangers” you will get 325,000 hits.
  • There are 9500 peer-reviewed articles stating the results of studies done by credentialed MDs, PhDs, scientists and environmental experts exposing the health dangers that pulsed, electro-magnetic frequency (EMF) “smart meters” emit. [Ed. note: see for several thousand studies on EMF and health effects.]
  • Pulsed radiation meters expose co-op members to life threatening and debilitating diseases including cancer, neurological illnesses, permanent genetic alterations, and microwave pulse induced heart attacks caused by interference with implanted medical devices.
  • According to a PG&E court-ordered report, AMI meters emit pulsed EMF waves at the rate of 10,000 to 190,000 times per day.
  • The Santa Cruz Department of Health study on the impact of AMI meters states, “New calculations suggest that continuous whole-body exposure to electro-magnetic radiation from so called ‘smart’ meters – which operate around the clock – may be between 50 and 160 times worse than that from cell phones.”
  • Health damage from EMF emissions are cumulative.
  • A power engineer with 25 years in the electric industry stated that electric grids are designed for 60 hertz cycles and that something was very wrong with meters that emit this level of pulsed radiation.
  • AMI meters are catching on fire everywhere. [Ed. note: see]
  • AMI meters are not even UL rated.
  • Lloyd’s of London quietly removed underwriting for death or injury due to EMF exposure from insurance policies and will not cover damage to a home or personal property caused by “smart meters.”
  • “Smart meters” are a liability.
  • Lawsuits against the installation of “smart meters” are growing around the world.
  • Legal suit against LPEA was threatened at both meetings.
  • AMI meters impact all life forms, not only people. Plants, animals, birds, and insects are all adversely affected by EMF radiation and our ecosystem is being threatened.
  • Whether a person opts-out or not, they are being bathed in this radiation by surrounding meters.
  • Banks of “smart meters” such as seen on apartment buildings, trailer parks and homes for the elderly magnify the danger and these people have with no way of escaping the exposure.
  • “Smart meters” are shutting down solar inverters, which then need to be re-set manually, with potential disastrous consequences for an absent home owner.
  • There is no evidence that “smart meters” will reduce electric fees. Fees are instead systematically escalating after their installation.
  • The constitutionally guaranteed 4th amendment right to privacy is being violated by these meters that invade homes and surveil lives on a 24/7 schedule.
  • The installation of a “smart grid” is a global agenda and amounts to spying on everyone everywhere at all times.
  • “Smart meters” open co-op members to having their homes and their grid hacked or hijacked, as admitted by the FBI in 2010: “The FBI warns that insiders and individuals with only a moderate level of computer knowledge are likely able to compromise meters with low-cost tools and software readily available on the internet.”
To further compound all of these claimed infractions, a co-op member asked how LPEA board members could have moved forward with the deployment of AMI meters if they had not educated themselves? Michael Dreyspring responded that the staff and board had been “provided” with information that satisfied them. It was then pointed out that the information LPEA had been provided was from companies that manufactured or provided “smart meters” and/or groups that had a conflict of interest in the matter because they benefit monetarily from “smart meter” deployment. Independent peer-reviewed studies apparently were not explored.

Meeting clip #2: Double dipping
LPEA (like all utilities) are already paying for people to read meters – this is already factored into current customer billing.

At the Pagosa meeting of October 8, 2014, CEO Michael Dreyspring was questioned about the $20.50 base fee that LPEA charges its members each month. It was asked whether a portion of this fee covered meter-reading. Dreyspring admitted, “Yes.”
At the Durango meeting of October 9, 2014, a member questioned Dreyspring about AMR meters. (The majority, if not all members who have opted out of “smart meters”, have AMR meters.) She asked if these meters needed to be manually read. Dreyspring said that AMR meters have transmitting devices attached to them that allows usage data to be sent to LPEA via the power lines. LPEA refers to these AMR meters as “turtle meters.”

At the LPEA Board meeting of October 15, 2014, a member asked what portion of the base fee was designated for meter-reading costs? She was told, “$1.42.”

So, LPEA has charged members a monthly fee of $1.42 to read 41,000 meters at the approximate cost of $58,000 per month and almost $700,000 per year for who knows how long, even though the majority of members have meters that  don’t need to be manually read at all. When asked where all that money went, the room went silent.

LPEA is now poised to demand $50 additional per person per opt-out per month for meters that don’t need to be read manually. Of course the “opt-outs” will also be forced to pay the $1.42 base charge for not reading their meters as well.

If all of this had been known by members before the LPEA meetings in Pagosa Springs and Durango, Colorado, we can only guess what the consequences would have been. LPEA has certainly invited investigation.
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