This is the real life story about what a Smart Meter can do to your home and your life, especially when a public utility company, a state regulatory agency and insurance company are involved. Colleen, of Yardley, Pennsylvania, has been living a Faustian nightmare and feels she has been pressed to all reasonable limits all because of PECO, an Exelon company, installing a SMART METER on her house. All surnames have been deleted because there is a lawsuit involved.
Colleen contacted me with her story, asking if I could write an article about it. However, after reading it, I thought I would submit it in her trauma-stricken words, since I never could do it the justice her Smart Meter odyssey needs in every manner: morally, legally and financially.
No utility customer should have to go through with the devastatingly unknown problems Smart Meters cause: fires, explosions, problems with insurance companies, housing displacement, etc.—even some deaths due to Smart Meter fires. Nonetheless, it seems Pennsylvania state officials are turning totally deaf ears to consumer complaints about Smart Meters. One state legislator, Representative Robert Godshall, who chairs the Consumer Affairs Committee where Smart Meter Opt-out bills have been referred to, refuses to bring HB 394, HB395 and HB396 up for a vote. Apparently, too many state legislators want legal opt-outs from Smart Meters for Pennsylvanians—as other states provide.
Furthermore, when Pennsylvania legislators originally voted and approved HB2200, which became Act 129 of 2008, Smart Meters would NOT be mandatory, but the PA Public Utility Commission has misinterpreted and overreached in implementation regulations making Smart Meters mandatory for every household and building in Pennsylvania. That’s illegal and has to be addressed by the Governor and the state court system.
What follows is a story every utility company customer EVERYWHERE should read to know what happens when a Smart Meter is retrofitted on a home’s metering panel and then malfunctions. Please take the time and learn from one family’s excruciating and unbelievable Smart Meter nightmare. Now, I defer to Colleen.
I’m Colleen of Yardley, Pennsylvania, and writing my story because the facts and truth need to be told about what my children and I have been through because of PECO, Grid One and State Farm Insurance. I’ve stayed quiet, like my attorneys have told me to, but as the latest series of events have unfolded, I’m not even sure whom I can trust anymore. My story begins on January 4, 2013.
January 4th started off as a typical day for me. I woke up, made some coffee, filed some applications for jobs, started laundry, cleaned the kitchen and began preparing for an interview I had later in the day. I had gone upstairs to move laundry from the washer to the dryer and fold the clothes from the dryer when all the sudden the power went out. I figured no big deal, we have this happen all the time, and it will come back on. Sure enough, it came back on and then immediately went back off. I waited. It didn’t come back on. So, I decided to go downstairs.
As I got to the bottom of the stairs, I could hear this noise. It sounded like feedback in stereo speakers that had a pulse to it. I stood there at the bottom of the steps trying to determine where the noise was coming from, but it sounded like it was all around me. What happened next – it happened so fast – was a flash, like lightning inside my house. I literally cradled my head and dropped to the floor, while my dogs started going crazy. I waited for the popping to stop and I opened my eyes.
With that flash, every lightbulb in my house had exploded! The old lightbulbs merely popped and shattered. Those new lightbulbs (CFLs) were on fire! I could see smoke, smell burning plastic. I had no idea what happened.
My first reaction was to get my dogs and myself outside. My dogs were barking furiously at the front door, so I ran up to them. I looked outside and I saw a white pickup truck with the driver-side door open in my driveway. I quickly put the dogs outside in the back yard and ran back to the front door and outside. I ran outside just in time to see a man with yellow rubber gloves up to his shoulders and carrying a yellow bag walking to his truck.
I yelled at him and said, “What did you just do?” He made eye contact with me, never answered and then ran to his truck, threw his bag in, closed the door, started the truck and left. When he had closed the door I saw a company logo… it was Grid One. I stood in my front yard dumfounded and shaken.
As I walked back to my front door, I noticed something hanging on my doorknob. It was a doorhanger that said “PECO…we have successfully installed your new meter.” I walked back inside my house. My chandelier that was on fire, no longer was on fire. I couldn’t see fire. The smoke had dissipated. I couldn’t see anything still burning, thank goodness. I looked at my computer; it was off; so were my printer and monitor. I walked into my kitchen – no lights and the appliances were dead, even the clock on my oven.
I walked down into my basement; the light didn’t work. I grabbed a hand light and went back down to the electrical panel. No breakers were tripped! I put a new lightbulb in, but the fixture didn’t work. I tried turning on my computer—nothing! Everything I looked at seemed not to be working. I was beginning to think I had no power at all until my well pump and heater kicked on.
I grabbed the doorhanger and called the number on it. The number that said if you have any questions, please feel free to call. I had a ton of questions and I wanted answers! The woman I first spoke with acted like what I was reporting was no big deal. They would send somebody out. Now, when you call this number, you think you’re calling PECO, but you’re not. You’re calling GRID ONE and they claim they are PECO. So, the woman told me someone will be out shortly. Within a few hours a man named Nelson showed up at my door. I let him in and asked him what had happened. He said he didn’t know. I said well let’s ask the guy who ran from my house. His immediate response was he has been terminated. This was a matter of hours after the incident! I said terminated as in fired or terminated as in quit? He smiled and said, “He’s been terminated.” I decided to drop that issue and show this gentleman everything I had found that was not working: Lights, my computer, monitor, printer, scanner, router, wireless adapters, melted surge protectors, under-cabinet lighting, and my stove. My new Keurig coffee maker was dead too. We had only been in three rooms and my basement when he stopped me. He said, “This is much more damage than what I usually see, so we will have to file a claim for someone else to handle.” I said usually see? He said, “Oh yes! This happens, but not this bad.” He had a camera with no batteries, so I gave him batteries since I had them out because my thermostat batteries had to be replaced after the incident. He left saying I’d hear from someone shortly. That was Friday early afternoon. In all this chaos, I missed my interview. I had completely forgotten about it. And I couldn’t even call them because their phone number was on my dead computer. Nelson said I would hear from someone that day. I never did.
By Monday, January 7, 2013, I still had not heard from anyone at PECO or Grid One. Over the weekend I had breakers tripping right and left. My heater breaker would trip, then my well pump, then my computer room, living room and right on down the line. The heater was running; it never stopped not running, but it was not heating the house. The only people who returned my calls were my electrician and my heater repair guy because they get paid. My heater guy was at a loss. There was air in my system and would reset itself then shut off. He was reluctant to do anything because he was afraid he was going to get electrocuted.
My electrician arrived to what I was now referring to as my electrical nightmare. He was talking about possibly thousands of dollars in repairs and that was only due to what he could see. I couldn’t afford that. I called Grid One to follow up on what Nelson had told me, only to be told they were not filing a claim that I needed to contact PECO. I contacted PECO only to be told I could file a claim but they expected me to make repairs and send receipts. That woman did NOT understand the magnitude of damage, or she assumed that I had a ton of money lying around. Not sure which. Then she started to tell me that statistically this doesn’t happen often but when it does happen, I was responsible to make repairs and then they were would review the claim. That call got me nowhere. So, I decided to call the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) and file a complaint. I really thought after that call, things would take a different turn and my house would get fixed. I was wrong.
The PUC did absolutely nothing. All that happened is PECO showed up at my house and told me the damage was my responsibility and to turn in receipts and they would review the claim.
All the while I was experiencing more electrical issues and finding more damage. The craziest thing that occurred was I literally was shocked getting into the shower! I went to grab the nozzle to direct the water down and when I grabbed it, I literally got a jolt of electricity, my hand stuck, my knees buckled and down I went. I didn’t take a shower after that, needless to say.
When I came downstairs, I heard water and could hear popping. The main water line from my well had exploded and electricity was sparking from it. I dashed through the water to the main electrical panel and shut off the main breaker. I immediately called my electrician back and a plumber. Neither of them had ever seen anything like that. I paid for the plumbing repair and then my electrician told me I needed to file a homeowner’s insurance claim because the damage was escalating. And that’s why we have homeowners insurance, right? I thought State Farm was my answer – they were going to save me.
I called the claims office and began telling the very nice rep what had occurred and what was still occurring and explained that this happened when they installed my new meter – the SMART METER. That rep knew about problems with meters. She had me go outside to my meter and tell her what type, numbers, etc. Grid One had installed a Sensus meter on my home. That was the first time I had heard the term Smart Meter. She told me to Google Smart Meter information and it would corroborate all the horrors she had told me about on the phone.
The first news story I saw said that PECO had investigated the meters and while they found no issues, they wouldn’t be installing Sensus meters. That story was from October 2012, but PECO installed the meter they said they weren’t installing anymore—in January 2013!
The State Farm rep told me I was being assigned a claim rep immediately and I would hear from someone shortly. I heard from Mike at State Farm the next day and we spoke at length about all the damage, plus scheduled a time to meet the following day. The day he was supposed to arrive, Mike called to say he was no longer my adjuster and that my claim was being forwarded to comprehensive claim status and I would hear from my new adjuster. I asked what the reasoning was and what exactly a comprehensive claim was. Mike explained that they estimate claim values, and a comprehensive claim is typically in excess of $50,000 and subrogation involves third party. My new adjuster, Edgar, called and set up a time to meet me and my electrician at my home. Edgar said not to refer to him as Edgar, call him by his nickname, which reminded me of somebody’s dog.
Darren, my electrician and I weren’t quite sure what to make of him other than completely unprofessional and unprepared. Edgar only referred to me as honey and sweetheart for the first half hour or so of the walk through until I just broke down and told him to please not call me that. I found it very condescending and creepy, especially after his at-length story about root cellars, dungeons, torture, and sex slaves. I’m completely serious. In fact, in his official reports to State Farm and his damage estimate, he refers to my basement as a “dungeon.” Edgar’s first visit to my home was at least three hours and he didn’t take a SINGLE NOTE! When we pointed out he wasn’t taking notes, he tapped the side of his head and said,” it’s all in here.” He left saying the damage wasn’t too bad and he’d have a check for me shortly. He told Darren to start making necessary repairs and for me to gather receipts. Edgar then proceeded a few days later to say the claim value was $3600. Darren told me his repairs were going to be more than that, and that I needed to hire a private adjuster. Then, I ultimately needed to hire an attorney. On a $200,000 damage claim, State Farm wanted to settle for $52,000. Why did they want to settle? Well, because they are losing their court battles for reimbursement from these utility companies over smart meter damage. Look into it; you’ll see I’m obviously telling the truth.
A few days after Edgar’s visit, he did provide a check for $3600. That was for damages of what he felt were covered by my policy. It seemed as though he was picking and choosing what to pay for, and what not to pay for, at random. At that point, keep in mind, we had no consistent source of water, no electric for refrigeration or food preparation, no heat and we were flushing toilets carrying water from our pool outside.
I went and purchased kerosene heaters, a propane camp stove, candles and more candles. We showered at relatives’ houses, did laundry at families’ houses or a laundromat. You do what you need to do to survive. Darren finally rerouted one breaker in my house, so we had the ability to use extension cords in order to get some amenities back and try to get back to living in normal, humane conditions. During this time, I was reminded how people lost their minds when they lost power for 3 to 7 days after Hurricane Sandy. Seven days was nothing to us at that point.
It was the middle of January 2013 when my electrician and I confronted Edgar about the condition of the house and how $3600 wasn’t sufficient and that our living conditions were not acceptable. The confrontation occurred after reading my homeowners policy. I had one of the best policies that money could buy from State Farm! I had coverages that I didn’t even know I had, like temporary housing! He let us suffer in this house, never mentioning what coverages I was entitled to. Once I mentioned alternate housing and Darren kept pushing on costs of electrical repair and how unsafe this house was, then he agreed to put us up in a hotel. That was conditional on my allowing State Farm to bring in an electrical engineer. I agreed to let them bring in an engineer, if it meant running water, hot showers and heat somewhere. Darren truly felt the electrical was unsafe and wanted the entire electrical system shut down, but Edgar said all electrical must stay on for the engineer to do his job.
We checked into the Marriott Residence Inn: I, my children and two dogs. Just to be able to take a shower was heaven. Just to turn on a light, watch TV, not having to worry about where we were going to charge my phone or to worry about yet another electrical issue or a fire in the house. A few days after we started staying at the hotel, I met the engineer at my house. Edgar who was supposed to be there, never showed. I went through the entire house with the engineer, explained everything, and showed him everything that was damaged. He even called and spoke with my electrician. When the engineer finished, he verbally told me he was in agreement with my electrician, the house was not safe and that, indeed, all my wiring and light fixtures need to be replaced, as the damage he could see to wires was significant. Furthermore, he believed the wires in the wall would yield further evidence. He told me his report would be given to State Farm in a day or two and I would hear back from Edgar. He assured me that it was a pretty straight forward evaluation and not to worry; my house would be getting fixed in no time.
I didn’t hear back from State Farm. Instead, I heard back from the engineer who told me that State Farm questioned his initial report and that he would need to come back for another inspection and bring a certified electrician. He said that he was just doing what he was told to do. When I questioned him, since he was contradicting himself, he said “I’m doing what I’m told to do. I need my job.” When I spoke to Edgar about that, he said that was customary so I allowed the second inspection.
I asked Darren to be present along with Edgar. Darren was there. Edgar said he didn’t need to be there. That second interaction was completely different from the first. The engineer had gone from helpful and concerned to evasive and nervous, and unable to look me in the eye. He was only there for the certified electrician to complete an entire electrical inspection. It was during that inspection that Darren said, “Colleen, they aren’t focusing on damage; they are focusing on looking at what isn’t current electrical code.” He then said, “You need to hire an adjuster and fast.” They weren’t looking for damage; they were looking for reasons to not pay for damage.
Either the next day or the day following that, Edgar called me and told me that the only damage to my electrical system they could attribute to the surge was minimal, and that he would figure the repair cost. He said temporary housing was no longer going to be provided, as the engineer said my home was safe and habitable. Furthermore, all my breakers, except a few, that could be put back on, were put back on, and we needed to vacate the hotel immediately. When I told him I didn’t feel safe going back to the house, he then told me then I didn’t have to return but I would be financially responsible for the hotel bill from that point on. The sign on the door said the suite we were staying in was almost $400 a night. I couldn’t afford the hotel stay. We had no option other than to pack up and leave.
I’ll never forget the day we were forced to leave the hotel. Neither will my son—it was the day before his 16th birthday and his birthday was ruined. Edgar knew it was Adam’s birthday. I had explained about switching party plans to the hotel and then those plans were undone with one phone call. Adam was so upset and, ultimately, we had no party other than cake, presents and dinner out the next day. You see Adam suffers from PTSD and an anxiety disorder. Any change in his surroundings or plans is a huge adjustment for him. Edgar knew this too; he just didn’t care. That’s the impression I was getting from the beginning and continuously from State Farm—they didn’t care. All the while, everywhere I turned I’d see the State Farm commercial or jingle “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”
I asked Edgar to provide me with a statement that my home was indeed safe for us to return. He literally laughed at me and said they couldn’t do that. I asked for the copy of the second engineer’s report. He said he hadn’t received it yet. He had concluded the damage of my home and the safety of my home after having a phone conversation with the engineer.
That weekend I finally listened to Darren and contacted a private adjuster. The adjuster got involved immediately and coordinated a meeting with the State Farm adjuster after surveying the damage to my home. I believe the first estimate from my private adjuster was around $75,000. State Farm argued back and forth for weeks. My adjuster was making no headway whatsoever.
While they’re arguing, we’re suffering living in a house in the middle of winter with no heat, bursting pipes, frozen pipes, etc. It was torture. If you want to torture someone, take away their heat in the dead of winter. Have you ever been so cold that you can’t sleep or are afraid to sleep because you fear you might freeze to death or your kids will freeze to death? I have. Then, further, take away refrigeration, their ability to cook food. I cooked many meals outside in below freezing temperatures on a camp stove and grill. I cried through many meals and many nights. It was during this time living back in my home that I almost stopped sleeping all together. I was afraid to go to sleep while my children slept. I was afraid of a fire. Even though we had talking smoke detectors, I was still fearful.
My kids would leave for school and I’d catch a cat nap of an hour or two—maybe three. I couldn’t seem to sleep past three hours—honestly. Two-and-a-half years later, I still can’t sleep for more than 2 to 3 hours at a time. It was during this time back in the house Darren had rerouted an electrical circuit for us. I had four working outlets in my house. Woohoo! I went out and bought four 100-foot extension cords. I had a refrigerator again—such excitement—you don’t learn to appreciate something until you don’t have it. We had an extension cord to the family room, so we could watch TV! Well that was the plan until the TV wasn’t working and we realized the DVR was damaged. Then, I soon was able to check and see that every TV and piece of Directv equipment wasn’t functioning. Only more appliances to add to the ever-growing list of things that stopped working after the meter incident. Then finally, I was able to set up a make shift kitchen—in my living room. I wouldn’t have to cook outside in freezing temperatures, rain and snow. I bought a hot plate, crockpot, toaster oven, new microwave. It was a somewhat normal kitchen under the circumstances. I was glad to have it. We still didn’t have lights, but it was more than we had before. We were surviving by heating small areas of my house with kerosene heaters and then we’d sleep in the family room. Our bedrooms became places we just went to get clothes, either to wear or to pack up to do laundry somewhere. Things by no means were great, but it was better than it had been. Better until the night of, I believe, February 22, 2013.
I was up in my room packing clothes and trying to decide what to throw out, as so many of my clothes smelled musty and smelled of chemicals or burnt plastic. My daughter was doing the same in her room. All of a sudden, she came running into my room to tell me she saw lights flashing outside by the front of the house—blue lights—white lights—like lightning. We ran downstairs and, through my basement door, I see my electrical panel sparking and popping, and then what little power we had, went off. I watched electricity shoot out of a copper pipe, the same well pump pipe I had already repaired.
Immediately, I called PECO to report an electrical emergency and got everyone outside and waited for PECO to arrive. I frantically, and carefully, shut down the main power switch in the electrical panel. It’s a miracle I wasn’t electrocuted. Why did I shut it down? Because the lady on the phone told me I was responsible to secure the house. Really? That is happening and this lady is giving me a canned speech on liability. Yes! Really! So, I waited for PECO. And waited. Then I called PECO again and was told they were busy. I went back to the basement to check it again and still could hear electricity humming, yet we had no power in the house. Once again, water was all over my basement flooding out from the water supply and also from the heating system. I walked outside and I could hear electricity in the power line coming to my house. It was at that point I realized that the incident back in January – that noise that I couldn’t determine what it was before the flash of light – was the noise of electricity traveling. Electricity makes a sound. Who knew? So when did PECO finally show up? A day later. My electrician and adjuster were there and left before PECO ever got there. PECO refused to meet with either of them.
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The PECO technician first looked outside and said he saw nothing wrong. He then came into my house and told me my panel had arced out and kept telling me the problem wasn’t PECO’s, it was my house. He kept shining his light on my panel and said, “See all those blue sparkles. That’s what’s left behind after an electrical arcing incident.” He asked me who shut off my panel. I told him I did because I feared a fire. He asked me what all the water was from. I told him electricity came out of the pipes and that I saw it with my own eyes. He said, “Well problems in the house weren’t PECO’s problem.” I argued that PECO created this problem. I told him what had happened back in January. He knew of the problems with smart meters, fires and surges during installation. And he flat out told me PECO would deny any responsibility. He was the first honest PECO person I had spoken to. He told me to file a homeowner’s insurance claim. I told him I did. He said, “That’s the only way you’ll get things fixed,” and he left although not before denying we ever had the conversation we had about his employer. His words were, “I have bills to pay and I need my job, and people who rock the boat end up thrown overboard, if you know what I mean.”
Additionally, he told me about the whistleblower about smart meters, who was an installer. He said, “That guy will never work again in the industry.” While I can understand that, how many other PECO employees remain silenced out of fear? I’d bet there are many. If you Google whistleblower about smart meters, you’ll find a few. You’ll even find unlawful termination lawsuits. That is when I realized this smart meter issue was way bigger than just me. Way bigger than just PECO. Surges and fires—they’re occurring worldwide. It’s not just the Sensus meters—it’s all the Smart Meters that are manufactured. Spend a few hours researching and you’ll see what I mean.
So here we were again. Back to no water, no heat, no electric power again. Now it’s all out survival mode day in, day out. Everything had to be planned down to where and when we could shower. Trips made to buy ice. Trips to buy kerosene, bottled water, and more candles. Our lives turned upside down again. Homework was done by candlelight. Where to go to charge cell phones and laptops for the kids to do homework. You either adapt or you go crazy, or both. We borrowed a generator, but that was just too costly. You’d be surprised how quickly money is spent under those circumstances. Any savings I had was now gone. Looking for a job was/is impossible, there’s no time for that—not to mention no computer access. No television. We can’t talk on the phone because you need it for an emergency. Buy more blankets, learn to layer clothes. Wear gloves, scarfs and hats—to go to sleep.
After that incident in February 2013, it was March 1st before my private adjuster and my new attorney (hired at the urging of my adjuster) finally got State Farm back to my house to review the new damage and finally agreed to provide temporary housing.
My new attorney asked for a statement of habitability and safety from State Farm. That was how we were provided housing. Housing that is completely covered in my policy! Housing that should have been provided from day one! We checked back into the Marriott only to find out that ALE, the company who works for State Farm, paid for a hotel for us since January. Crazy? (Feel free to contact the Marriott for those records.) I didn’t understand how such an outrageous error could be made. I was furious too! Thousands of dollars paid for a hotel we were told to leave YET State Farm was refusing to reimburse me for food, appliances, meals, laundry, etc. Then all of the sudden, Edgar is abruptly changing his story that he never told us to leave. WHAT? Yes, that was now his NEW story. Unbelievable! But, I finally thought things were getting on track for my house to get fixed. I honestly did.
While the hotel wasn’t ideal, it was the Taj Mahal compared to my house now because the hotel was warm, had electricity and water. While I finally felt safe at the hotel, the lack of sleep and nightmares were still occurring. For the first time, State Farm asked for receipts to start reimbursing my personal expenses from this ordeal, which was around $15,000 at that point. Progress? No, just an excuse to formally deny paying them.
State Farm was insisting upon restoring electrical power to the house because they could not determine damage without it. Edgar told Darren to start repairs and not to worry, he would be paid. To this day (June 19, 2015), Darren has never been paid. When the majority of repairs were made, State Farm said they could not determine which were caused by the original electrical event in January 2013. They refused to bring another engineer back in. I brought more contractors in to assess damage and got estimates only for State Farm to deny them and refuse payment for work to begin. You’d be amazed how many contractors don’t want to work when they don’t know if they are getting paid. (Sarcasm intended.) Darren, though, tried to help. He paid for many things out of pocket, and I would gladly furnish his contact information so you can speak with him.
So, now we’re living in a hotel. We’re crammed into a small hotel suite. I, my two teenagers, and two dogs were living in 800 square feet of hotel room space. At that point, I’m in financial shambles. I’m mentally broken but still trying to get through each day that seemed to bring more drama. It was the beginning of April 2014, and while still arguing back and forth with State Farm, I had an attorney to handle that. Then my mother got ill—very ill.
She was rushed from her nursing facility to the hospital and, even though she had many other ailments, what she now had was C-Diff. With all her other health issues, she just never recovered and she passed away a little shy of two weeks later. My mother was literally dying in the hospital and Edgar, who constantly says he can’t be contacting me because I have an attorney, is contacting me. Why? Because he wanted access to my house again, and because if I didn’t give him access, he was closing the claim.
I’m going to say that man has a real problem with women. It started from day one and continued. I’d even go so far to say that if I were a man, my house would have been fixed. He told some bizarre story on one visit about Eve, the temptress, and how women were the downfall of men and ultimately the world. THAT was the mentality I was dealing with. The man apparently wasn’t politically correct by the previous relaying of his intrigue over ancient cultures and fascinations with sex slaves and dungeons. Darren also was privy to those stories.
So anyway, I met my attorney, Darren, and Edgar at the house—again. My time would have been better spent with my dying mother. That meeting was a waste of time. I went back to the hospital and now I was dealing with my Mother, who was thinking she was dying and didn’t want to die in the hospital, and was begging me to take her home with me, to die. I had to explain to her, as she was convinced she was dying, what’s happened to the house. She had decided she was dying and now also was devastated that the house was damaged. She was upset that we were in a hotel. She was worried about her things in the house. Her health deteriorated after that, and she did die. The doctors and nurses were hopeful until she took a turn for the worse. It was like she gave up. My mother was a fighter. She almost died several times, but like I said, this time was different. She passed away, arrangements were being made and then Edgar wanted to meet at the house again. He always picked the date. I asked my attorney to schedule it for another day, since Edgar wanted to meet the day of the funeral. Even after he knew it was my Mother’s funeral. I ended up meeting him the day after the funeral.
My attorney advised me to provide State Farm with a death certificate, since my mother was listed on the deed. I did. Also, I provided him that same day with more receipts, since, per State Farm, I needed to start removing property from my house. I had to rent a POD and start packing up my house and belongings by myself so that walls and floors could be removed in order to look for damage. State Farm refused to pay for help to pack, packing supplies, etc. Par for the course. Their MO is you need to do this, you pay for it, and then we’ll determine if we’re going to pay for it at a later date. If you don’t comply with what you’re told to do, they threaten with canceling the claim.
So Darren was completing some electrical work per State Farm, and State Farm was refusing to review ANY other damage estimates from contractors and my private adjuster. My private adjuster decided that State Farm wasn’t going to pay and, if they did, I wouldn’t have enough money to fix my house, having to pay them and an attorney too. They turned over everything to my attorney. My attorney tried to negotiate the estimate with State Farm. They weren’t interested in negotiating. State Farm wanted to bring in a certified State Farm contractor. A company named ServPro. So, my attorney, I, Edgar and about 7 contractors with ServPro met at my home to survey the damage and come up with an agreed upon estimate of cost for repairs. It was through that meeting that I met David and Sean. They were subcontractors for ServPro. David is an electrical engineer and a certified electrician AND a previous employee of PECO! Sean is a General contractor, who has fixed his fair share of damaged properties or knew of several properties in the area that were damaged by—you guessed it—SMART METERS! So, they gave me their cards in case I needed them for the future. Within days, they turn over their portion of the estimates to ServPro so ServPro can prepare a final estimate for me. That’s key here—for ME!
Edgar made it quite clear: he could have NO interaction with them. ServPro was there on my behalf. Well, weeks went by and I’m being told by Davita at ServPro that they are still waiting on estimates from their subcontractors. Plus now there are problems with the insurance policy and meeting code enforcement issues. You see, it’s May and at that point, I had no patience left with this entire process and my daughter was graduating from high school. I had scheduled a graduation party in my backyard in June! I had ordered the party invitations back in December before all this happened. And I had ServPro telling me not to worry—my house will be fixed by then—if they had to work every day. Finally, I got a phone call from David, who wanted to follow up on whether I had decided to have ServPro do the work. I told him I was told they were still waiting on estimates. He told me that he turned in his engineering report and his electrical estimate within days of the meeting,, and he had talked with Sean before he called me and that Sean turned his in as well. So, what was I waiting for then?
So, David then sent me his estimate and Sean sent me his estimates, which total at that point around $140,000. I send them to my attorney. You know what ServPro was waiting for? They were waiting for Edgar to review the estimate ServPro prepared for me that Edgar was not even supposed to see until he got it from me.
When I finally received the estimate from ServPro, it was for around $53,000. A far cry ($87,000 less) from the estimates turned over by David and Sean. Interesting? So my attorney advised this: Let State Farm cut the check, as more money can always be negotiated at a later date.
So, finally State Farm issued the check; my attorney received it; and he called to say he received it, BUT we can’t cash the check. Why can’t we cash the check? Because State Farm has put my deceased mother’s name on the check and dead people can’t sign checks. So, my attorney pointed out their error. State Farm says it’s not an error—that their process. My attorney returned the check and told them they were wrong and to resend a check. WE asked to have Edgar removed from my claim for his blatant errors and behavior.
Then State Farm denies ANY knowledge of Mother’s death and a receipt of a death certificate. I’m going to assume they blamed Edgar. We had to give them another death certificate and then they would re-issue the check, and they would assign another claim rep. We furnished the death certificate; they assigned a new adjuster, Kyle, who needed to go over the ENTIRE claim—AGAIN! They finally agreed to cut another check. By the time they finally did that, I held a graduation party at my house with porta-potties because my attorney and State Farm said if anyone were injured inside the house, State Farm wouldn’t be liable.
My attorney received the check from State Farm and called me with more bad news. Now they’ve removed my Mother’s name, but now it’s made payable to my mortgage company, my attorney, me and the Estate of my Mother, which State Farm says is their policy and now I’ll have to file an estate in order to obtain the funds. I believe we got the check August 28 and they allowed 60 days for repairs, but said they would stop paying for the hotel on October 28th. They kept their word. They stopped paying EXACTLY on October 28. The check hadn’t even been cashed. Ultimately, I was able to show that State Farm was wrong and I didn’t need to establish an estate. By that time, we were back in the house, had had another fire in November of 2013, and were living with family members and friends. We were shuffling from house to house while leaving two dogs in an uninhabitable house.
Now I must digress for another back story. In May of 2014, my mortgage company returned my mortgage payment. They claimed that I was in violation of my unemployment forbearance program because why? Because I was not residing in the house! They said I was not truthful to them, that State Farm told them I was residing elsewhere and I never should have been put on the program starting February 1st. So, in June 2014, they declared me in default, removed my forbearance and filed for foreclosure. I kid you not. So remember how furious I was and couldn’t make sense WHY State Farm would continue to pay for a hotel after we’re kicked out? Suddenly everything made sense: the mortgage company’s criterion was if I resided outside of the property for more than 90 days, I was in default. Coincidence? I think not. Since I was not at the house when the papers were served, I actually never received the papers. I did receive, in the mail, the county conciliation paperwork and signed up to begin that program. The mediator for that program was appalled and stayed the foreclosure. I can provide that documentation. He urged my mortgage company to negotiate SOMETHING—ANYTHING—under the circumstances. They refused. In fact, THEY wanted ANY and ALL insurance monies. Now you see why the mortgage company was put on those checks that were finally dispersed.
Now let me digress further about another piece to this story. Back to the PUC—that PUC, who took almost a year to do nothing about my original informal complaint. The PUC, who said they sent documents, but obviously never did. I never got them. Neither did my attorney. I contacted the PUC again to follow up on my complaint to find out that it’s been closed. I have to file a new complaint. Why? Because all of the months there was no electric service or minimal electric, all the months we didn’t live in the house, the electric bills were outrageously high! So now a high bill complaint had to get filed. PECO came out to investigate in August 2013, I believe. That technician agreed I was not using the power my meter was saying I was using –it was impossible. That was before the fire. The fire was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving 2013. PECO agreed to credit me $1600 then, I believe, ultimately reversed that credit.
After the fire, there once again was no electric service in my house, but I ‘magically’ still showed electric usage. The service panel was finally put in the end of February. That was 2014. The PUC did nothing with that complaint—again! I complained again to the PUC about high bills and high usage for what I had in the house. It was almost an entire year later that I received anything from the PUC. PECO came out, I believe this past March or April 2015, and determined that my usage was correct for what they saw at the property. They listed every appliance that they saw, including my hot tub. Even though I told them the appliances were broken—not even plugged in—they were included in the use assessment. You see, according to PECO, if they are there, they have a potential for use. So, my dishwasher that’s been disconnected because it’s still sitting there damaged, according to their formula, gets added in. My hot tub, which hasn’t worked since the initial incident on January 4, 2013, doesn’t even have a breaker for it in my panel, but it still counts. My heating system, even though it doesn’t work, there is no breaker in my panel, it counts in their usage formula AND COUNTS against me.
They compared previous years billings and they’re consistent with previous years. They don’t take into account in previous years I had a washer and dryer, dishwasher, double oven, cooktop, 5 air conditioners in the summer, a pool, a hot tub, and a working heating system. Every electronic and device of comfort you’d have in a typical 3800 square foot house in Yardley, PA , and then some. You get my point?
Now I have a cooktop, an oven, microwave, 10 working outlets, a hot water heater (my hot water was my oil boiler before), I have 1 TV instead of 5. I have the wired electric service of a small apartment! A formal complaint has been awaiting a hearing date, which seems like forever. That is my current situation. I finally just got a working kitchen sink. That was my excitement for the month of May 2015. Prior to that, I had to use a 5 gallon bucket under the pipe in the kitchen, and then dump it in my ONLY functioning toilet. I don’t have people over to visit me in my home; I’m a hermit now. My house is in shambles, and I’m too embarrassed to have anyone come here. One or two close friends only. Okay, so back to State Farm and their check payment.
My attorney’s head at that time was spinning trying to keep up with the mess of this situation. He said our only alternative at that point was to file a lawsuit and what a mess it was going to be. He started preparing at the end of November 2013. I believe it was officially recorded and filed in January of 2014. While he did that he explained that litigation is a long drawn out process and I needed to file a complaint with the Pennsylvania insurance commission in the interim so that maybe we could get some quick resolve there with State Farm. I needed to get some things fixed in my house, otherwise I was going to be homeless until we got to court. There’s a complaint listed there, if anyone wants to look that up. That complaint also includes the fact that State Farm illegally canceled my auto insurance without my knowledge. Seriously, I’m not kidding. The insurance commission was of no help at all. Once they saw a formal lawsuit, they wanted no involvement whatsoever.
If you check the Philadelphia civil court docket, you will see a civil suit filed against PECO, GRID ONE and State Farm. You can read a lot more of the story in that filing. It’s public information. It’s too large of a file to attach to an email. My children and I did not live in the house from February 2013 through November 2013. We moved back November 7, 2013 and had another fire the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, as I mentioned previously. We moved back in permanently in March of 2014. My home still is not repaired.
Overall, the damage to my house is closer to $400,000 now. I need mold remediation, new carpets and padding throughout the house. I can’t even get full estimates from people. Damage is so extensive, they want to be paid for estimates. I live under the constant threat of my electricity being shut off. They have shut it off because I can’t afford the bills. PECO made me apply for their CAP program and then refused to process my application. They want to come back and inspect my house—again. Not for my benefit or to be helpful, probably to gather more evidence for themselves for the lawsuit.
Get this…PECO claims the meter on my house, according to their records, is the original meter installed on January 4, 2013. They apparently are doctoring records now. They have to be.
I want to tell you these last two things and I can show you pictures too. One photograph is of a meter that I found behind a box by my electrical panel in my garage. I was cleaning the garage. It hadn’t been cleaned since the Fall (2012) before this nightmare began. So I found it and started calling every contractor who had been to my house. No one is missing it. I turned that meter device over and what does it say on it. Property of PECO!
PECO has never been in my garage with my permission!
A second photograph is of a direct metering device that is attached to my transformer and the power lines to my house. A man in an unmarked van put it there. According to two fairly knowledgeable people, PECO had to have installed it since it’s attached to their equipment, but PECO has no idea what I’m talking about. I refuse to let them on my property to evaluate usage again. I suppose this is their work around? I’ve been told it’s a computer of sorts: it talks to my smart meter. It’s a super grid device. Since PECO’s super grid isn’t complete, they do this? If I’m to believe what I’m being told, that device knows I woke up to my cell phone alarm at 7 this morning, brewed myself a cup of coffee at 7:10, and another at 7:25,.and another at 8. Then, I took a shower for 10 minutes and washed dishes after that. That’s an invasion of privacy—but how much? Truth is stranger than fiction! I won’t stay quiet any longer. I’ve been pushed to limits that no human being should be pushed to.
We have lived through the winters of 2013, 2014 and 2015 without heat. The house is overrun with mold. I have numerous contractors who are willing to speak to anyone on my behalf. Two-and-a-half years later, this has been—and still is—a nightmare and an emotionally crippling time for me and my children. I need help. I need someone to listen to my story. There is much more to this story, but I feel like I have written a book already. I’d like you to come to my house, see the conditions for yourself and hear from me and my kids. Please.
I want to thank Colleen for contacting me and giving me and my editor permission to print her absolutely unbelievable story that began with the installation of a Smart Meter that the PA PUC and utility companies are mandating customers allow to be retrofitted on to their homes, and if not, electric power will be turned off. Those who don’t allow Smart Meters are threatened with shut off of electricity, even though all their bills are paid in full.
If customers file a formal complaint against PECO with the PA PUC, that complaint is automatically ‘adjudicated’ by an Administrative Law Judge in favor of PECO. Is that a kangaroo court that ‘foils’ for the utility companies and Representative Robert Godshall when, in fact, there should be NO Smart Meter mandates in Pennsylvania?
The total irony about the Smart Meter issue is that the Pennsylvania state legislature did NOT mandate Smart Meters in the law they passed—HB220 became Act 129 of 2008 signed into law by then-Governor Edward Rendell.
All the problems stem from the PA PUC interpreting it as what the PA PUC believed the legislators wanted and implemented it as such in their implementation regulations for utility companies, which is totally illegal and what’s called over-reach. No one can make laws in Pennsylvania except the state legislative body. The PA PUC has overstepped its agency powers, and must be prosecuted for that malfeasance, rather than the PUC prosecuting utility customers for non-compliance with what both PECO and the PA PUC contend is a ‘valid law’.
Utility customers –electric, gas, and water—everywhere need to know what’s going on that is impacting their safety and daily lives regarding and stemming from Smart Meters.
Catherine J Frompovich (website) is a retired natural nutritionist who earned advanced degrees in Nutrition and Holistic Health Sciences, Certification in Orthomolecular Theory and Practice plus Paralegal Studies. Her work has been published in national and airline magazines since the early 1980s. Catherine authored numerous books on health issues along with co-authoring papers and monographs with physicians, nurses, and holistic healthcare professionals. She has been a consumer healthcare researcher 35 years and counting.
Catherine’s latest book, published October 4, 2013, is Vaccination Voodoo, What YOU Don’t Know About Vaccines, available on Amazon.com.
Her 2012 book A Cancer Answer, Holistic BREAST Cancer Management, A Guide to Effective & Non-Toxic Treatments, is available on Amazon.com and as a Kindle eBook.
Two of Catherine’s more recent books on Amazon.com are Our Chemical Lives And The Hijacking Of Our DNA, A Probe Into What’s Probably Making Us Sick (2009) and Lord, How Can I Make It Through Grieving My Loss, An Inspirational Guide Through the Grieving Process (2008)