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Are You Still Worried about SmartMeters?

While PG&E says only a few have opted out of SmartMeter installation, a Novato company has filed a complaint with the state Public Utilities Commission.

The wall-mounted digital devices that measure electric power consumption are back in the news.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which started installing SmartMeters to replace analog meters last year, told the that installation is 79 percent complete in Marin County and that only a few thousand people have opted out thus far despite a concern about radio waves emitted by the meters that could pose health risks. Check out the IJ's story here.

Also, a complaint about SmartMeters filed by a Novato company was heard by the state regulatory board but shelved until May 24, according to a story by . David L. Wilner, owner , said the public is not protected enough from SmartMeter radiation and vowed to pursue the issue all the way to the Supreme Court if the state PUC turns him down.

The SmartMeters have generated currents of controversy ever since PG&E began installing them without notifying residents. Homeowners have raised issues of not only of potential radiation danger but of privacy.

According to information on PG&E's website, May 1 was the company's deadline to opt out and go back to an analog meter. A ruling by the state PUC allows PG&E to charge you $75 for the change back to antiquated technology and charge you an additional $10 per month on top of your normal energy charges. PG&E considers the devices to be an essential upgrade to their customer service, making their distribution system more reliable and record-keeping more accurate. Once an account is set up on the PG&E website, a customer can get close to a real-time estimate of energy being used at home.

Do you still have concerns about SmartMeters? Are you satisfied that they won't cause health problems? Are you convinced they do?

Craig Belfor May 17, 2012 at 01:41 PM
I love my smart meter. I look at the graph of my usage online and see when I'm wasting the most power. I put in power strips I can turn off when I'm not around to stop powering my TV, Cable box, and DVD player. (That along costs $24 a month to keep running, even in sleep mode.) If only 1000 people in Marin wear tin foil hats that's actually of low number of wackos. They probably have cell phones and bluetooth earpieces, both of which give out hundreds of times more radiation. I'm waiting to see a protester driving a Hummer Hybrid, while talking on their cell phone with a sticker on the bumper. They're probably still pissed off at the wheel.
Bob Laru May 17, 2012 at 03:09 PM
This isn't about conserving power or efficiency. PG&E wants to charge a different rate for peak periods of the day. Also, they will have the ability to shut your power off remotely. In order to avoid these charges we can start doing our laundry at 3 am and start cooking our Thanksgiving turkey at 2 am. Do we want someone compiling data on our energy use? Keep drinking the Kool-Aid.
Don Reihl May 17, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Just another way of tracking us...Our civil rights and freedom are being taken away one by one. Just wait until Obama gets relected. We wil become a "One World Government." The world will change forever! Every American should Google "ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT"
RonitGesundheit May 17, 2012 at 03:48 PM
I opted out but found out my neighbor’s Smart Meter (PG&E) was pulsing very high microwave radiation (RFR) bursts about every 30 – 60 seconds – just 10 feet from the walls of my home… I plan on talking to them about it. Here's some video footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=br_cBS6L1a0&feature=youtu.be
Lauren May 17, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Anyone know if Smart Energy USA is legit? It's a solar panel company that says it got my info from PG&E. I'd love to get a free quote, but am leery of inviting them to my house if they are not for real.
Rick Voorhees May 17, 2012 at 05:11 PM
I am all for the Smart Meters easy to track your power usage. As far as cancer concerns no worst than Sun exposure, Radon exposure, etc.
TAK May 17, 2012 at 05:47 PM
There are some very credible sources beginning to make noise about the potential health risks of this high radio/electromagnetic emitting type of technology. For me, that is the real issue. I feel like there ought to be more research before accepting a device that could potentially harm us and our children. I think the opt out fee is outrageously high.
Samuel Island May 17, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Wow, those are huge bursts. Very gross.
Tina McMillan May 18, 2012 at 07:12 AM
The Facts About Smart Meter Safety Monday December 12, 2011 "Smart Meters Produce Very Low Levels of RF Energy The amount of RF energy emitted by an electronic device is defined by its power density, which is measured in watts per square meter (W/m²) over a certain distance. According to the Public Utility Commission of Texas, smart meters produce far lower levels of RF energy than many other common household electronic devices, like 16 times less RF energy than a baby monitor and over 4,300 times less than a typical cell phone." "Smart Meters Do Not Continuously Emit RF Energy Smart meters do not continuously produce a wireless signal or emit RF energy. Instead, they relay information back to a utility once every 15 minutes throughout the day. The actual signal only takes from one to two seconds to send and, according to a study by the Electric Power Research Institute, generates less than 1 percent of the FCC’s daily safe RF energy exposure limit." "FCC: No Scientific Evidence Connects RF Energy With Illnesses According to the FCC, “some health and safety interest groups have interpreted certain reports to suggest that wireless device use may be linked to cancer and other illnesses.” However, “currently no scientific evidence establishes a causal link between wireless device use and cancer or other illnesses.” http://www.sparkenergy.com/blog/2011/december/are-smart-meters-safe/
Tina McMillan May 18, 2012 at 07:23 AM
How do SmartMeter™ RF signals compare to other common devices? Examples of RF in the Everyday Environment Compared to SmartMeter™ Power Density in Microwatts per square centimeter (µW/cm2) Adjacent to a gas SmartMeter™ (1 foot) 0.00166 Adjacent to an electric SmartMeter™ (10 feet) 0.1 Adjacent to an electric SmartMeter™ (1 foot) 8.8 Microwave oven nearby (1 meter) 10 Wi-Fi wireless routers, laptop computers, cyber cafes, etc., maximum (~1 meter for laptops, 2 - 5 meters for access points) 10 - 20 Cell phones (at head) 30 - 10,000 Walkie-Talkies (at head) 500 - 42,000 Source: Richard Tell Associates, Inc. http://www.pge.com/myhome/edusafety/systemworks/rf/
Karen May 18, 2012 at 03:58 PM
We had solar panels installed on our house in February by Smart Energy USA and are very pleased. Prompt return phone calls, /emails, showing up to work when they said they would, and very reduced PG&E bills. They have a good rating with the BBB. Yes, by all means, get your free quote!
Sara May 18, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Rescheduling heavy usage to off hours can alleviate the need for more power plants, which in turn reduces pollution. It's actually a good thing and I'm waiting for the first wave of appliances that are designed around the idea of off-peak power usage. In most areas the difference between day and night usage is fairly extreme and the inefficiency is obvious (power plants & transmission like to have steady loads). However, that is just a side benefit. I fear one of the main purposes was to get rid of all those local meter readers & local service people that connect and disconnect service.
Sara May 18, 2012 at 04:40 PM
...and yet it's still enough to knock out our WiFi connection some distance away each time they broadcast to neighboring units. I had to use a directional yagi antenna to find the source & had to wait for the next burst to check each direction, but sure enough, that was it. "Smart Meters Produce Very Low Levels of RF Energy" "Smart Meters Do Not Continuously Emit RF Energy " These two statements are connected. A short high power RF burst will *average* far below continuous sources depending on the measurement period. It may only be a few packets, but the power is high enough to spike my wifi meter - when it can catch it - and break my network connection. It's a matter of power output over time. A laser can pulse for just an instant and punch a hole through a sheet of metal, while a flashlight over time will put out more energy but do no damage.
TAK May 18, 2012 at 04:51 PM
I am not a huge advocate about this, and am not one to assume everything is a corporate conspiracy, I am just concerned and starting to ask questions for myself. I don't know that all of this type of technology - microwave, cell, wireless, laptop, you name -- it is really safe in the huge amounts our society is now consuming it. I don't think there have been any studies that show the long term safety of any of this type of technology on animals or humans, as there would be new drugs, for example. There have been risks associated with plastics and household chemicals talked about, and I guuess I think about this issue the same way. Why not better safe than sorry and it is up to me to do the research and make a choice. Maybe this is guilty until proven innocent, but when health and safety is at concerned I feel that is a valid approach. Scientific evidence linking smoking to illness wasn't published until 1964 .... I understand that these meters will make PGE and more efficient. I don't see them passing on those savings on my bill. If they aren't passing on savings from all those fired meter readers, then why do I have to pay the $120 annual fee? That is what I guess I have the biggest problem with.
Tina McMillan May 18, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Sara I suspect something else is effecting your wi fi connection. I found our wireless phones were on the same channel as our television remote so when anyone changed the channel it created an annoying buzz on the phone. I am still learning about these issues and by no means an expert but the experts say the radio frequency emissions from our cell phones are 10,000 times higher and far more persistent than a Smart Meter. I think we do need a way to analyze our energy usage to reduce our bills and conserve. That is why I chose to keep my Smart Meter.
Sara May 18, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Thanks Tina, the problem started when they put in our SmartMeter and moving our lower band (b/g) router about eight feet solved the problem. It was on the other side of the wall from the meter, maybe a foot away, so I'm confident that was the source. PG&E says they are using the lower bands (ie 900mhz range, far from 2.4Ghz of b/g) so I'm guessing it was just an inverse square solution. It was the timing that made me think to turn off the router and check the SmartMeter. All that said, using a WiFi device like a laptop or tablet or phone probably exposes the user to far more RF over time if you don't stand (or sleep) right next to the SmartMeter. Considering the location of our meter now in relation to our living space, we're keeping it.
michelle rossi May 25, 2012 at 04:04 AM
besides the potential health effects, i see pge enforcing the off hour useage. if you note what peak hours consist of anyone that is working, wiil be punished. you will have to do your laundry, cook dinner after some of us must go to bed, to get up to do it all over again.
Tina McMillan May 25, 2012 at 06:16 AM
Michelle I can't find a single piece of evidence that shows health effects related to SMART Meters. It is up to us as customers if we want to throw a load of laundry in the washer or dryer in the evening. That has always been the case. The primary goal of the SMART Meter here and in other countries has been to get people to conserve energy on their own. Like it or not we are running out of fossil fuels and the more we conserve the longer we can stretch our resources. It's the same with water. The water company charges more money as you go up higher in the tier system of water usage. They do this to encourage conservation. PGE and MEA are not our only resources. Home solar is also a possibility. Here is a link to a NCA article: http://nca4bh.org/ncasite_j17/index.php/en/topics/city-government/297-update-on-marin-energy-authority-opt-out-deadline-a-pge Check out other market based alternatives.
Dave May 29, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Tehy charge more for usage because they are greedy. Do you really think they give a darn about the enviroment? Wake up and smell the $$$
Tina McMillan May 30, 2012 at 01:13 AM
No successful business can operate without a profit. Greed destroys businesses, corporations, unions and even countries.The money PGE makes supports its workers as well as its stockholders and allows the company to grow. In Northern California it makes more sense to focus our efforts on improving PGE rather than creating public agencies that purchase pseudo green energy from suppliers such as Royal Dutch Shell and Electricite Francaise. Personally, I like the idea of becoming more energy independent by reducing usage and when able converting to solar. I think wind is harder to get zoned in Marin County due to the actions of groups like the Audubon Society. We have to find a way to compromise so that we can become more energy independent while protecting local wildlife but that also means using the land around us to provide our energy. It's not fair to farm out all the energy production to other cities because we don't like the way it looks. There was controversy originally associated with McEvoy Ranch's wind turbine but now that it is up and running it is a wonderful example of what private innovation can do when allowed to succeed. http://www.kleanindustries.com/s/tire_plastic_recycling_feasibility_studies.asp?ReportID=352398
Tina McMillan May 30, 2012 at 01:15 AM
If you are interested in learning more about SMART meters check out how and why they are being used throughout Europe. Again, this is an effort to teach people how to use energy more responsibly. The average household in Europe uses half the electricity that we use in the U.S. The growth of SMART meters here and abroad is about energy conservation. If the fear that is being associated with radio frequencies is valid then eliminating cell phones, routers, wireless phones, microwaves and other technology associated with radio frequency emissions is the solution. SMART METERS are just a tiny, tiny blip on this very large screen. http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/100-million-meters-coming-to-europe-by-2016/http://economie.fgov.be/fr/binaries/European_Research_Experience_and_Needs_Smart_Metering%20_tcm326-67144.pdfhttp://ec.europa.eu/energy/gas_electricity/smartgrids/doc/20110412_memo.pdf
Ivan September 19, 2012 at 05:15 PM
100% Real. Visit our website smartenergyusa.com or give us a call 1-800-405-1978 Top notch service and installations. Go green and save $$$$

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