Friday, August 16, 2013

SGCC’s response to negative smart meter misinformation: “Take Back Your Power”

By Patty Durand, Executive Director, Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative 

Take Back Your Power. It’s ironic this statement is the title of a forthcoming documentary spreading misinformation about smart grid and smart meters, as mentioned in an August 12 USA Today article titled “Documentary looks at possible problems with smart grids.”  The statement “take back your power” should be associated with the benefits of a smart grid for consumers --- after all, a smart grid will give consumers the ability to take control over their energy usage, have more information about their energy consumption and experience fewer surprises on their energy bill than ever was possible before. We live in an increasingly digitized world, and digitization means more data and more knowledge for everyone, especially consumers.

The transformation of our electrical system to a smarter grid, which combines our electrical system with an information technology overlay, essentially allows a two-way flow of information about energy usage and delivery. Benefits include the potential to decrease carbon emissions as much as 9 percent, decrease the average household electric bill as much as $500 a year, and onboard more renewable energy resources like wind and solar power.

A critical element of a smart grid is digital meters – electric meters that enable two-way communication between consumers and their utility. Digital meters do this wirelessly, without the utility having to go onto private property to read a meter. Armed with this data, consumers can take control over their energy consumption and monthly bills and a utility can make better decisions about how they produce and dispatch electricity.

Yet the installation and deployment of digital meters as a foundational element of a smart grid occasionally comes under attack by various groups concerned about the health and privacy impacts of the digital meters. Research shows these concerns are unfounded:
  • Health: The Radio Frequency (RF) emissions emitted by digital meters is well below the limits set by Federal Communications Commission and is ten-times below levels produced by other common household devices like cell phones, baby monitors, satellite TVs, and microwaves. 
  • Privacy: The privacy of consumer data is protected now as always. Ongoing efforts to protect utility data continues just as it does for banking, health, telephone, and all data. Utilities work constantly to safeguard it and that will not change with the use of smart meters.
The bottom line: the benefits of a smart grid will allow our nation to improve our aging electrical infrastructure and improve management of the growing demand for energy into the future. Most important of all, it will empower consumers, the opposite of what the article and documentary says. To learn more about the benefits of a smart grid, we encourage readers to visit Too bad the Take Back Your Power crowd doesn't realize their position actually gives away consumer empowerment to manage their electric bill and know details about their usage.

SGCC has a working group responding to anti-smart meter campaigns. If you would like to become involved please let me know. We welcome your participation.


  1. Please note there are over 200 million smart meters in operation globally, including 50 million in the U.S., without a single verified instance of negative health effects. You would have to stand in front of a smart meter for 19 years to get the same radiation as you get from a 5 minute cell phone call. Learn more here:

    1. Patty,

      You are either very misinformed or are deceptive. You have never heard of one instance of ill effects. There are thousands effected in NA and you can tell by just asking for a show of hands on any of the various sites from those opposing AMI meters. If you think these meters are so great lets place one under your babies crib since I have heard that a SM emits less than a baby monitor. So go ahead and do that to you and your family and leave this rest of us in peace. It is my only hope that someone in your family gets ill from these meters and you tell them you had a hand in promoting these evil devices.

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  3. 􀆌􀄂􀄚􀅝􀄂􀆚􀄞􀍟 RF energy. The apparent re-­‐radiation of
    these objects created elevated fields concentrated close to the objects.
    The general ambient field levels in the houses followed the basic pattern of being weaker as the
    distance from the source (at the meter) increased. This is known in the literature as presenting
    􀄞􀅯􀄞􀇀􀄂􀆚􀄞􀄚􀀃􀍞􀅚􀅽􀆚􀀃􀆐􀆉􀅽􀆚􀆐􀍟􀀃􀅽􀄨􀀃􀄞􀅶􀄞􀆌􀅐􀇇􀀃concentrated near the conductive objects.
    Isotrope, LLC
    For example, in one house, the ambient levels of the AMR signal (and a DECT phone signal
    emitted from the first floor) were observed to have a spatial peak value in proximity to house
    wiring in the wall of a second floor bedroom by a bed as well as in proximity to a metal bed-­‐side
    table lamp in another bedroom, among other locations. The spatial peaks near the electrical
    wire and table lamp were, on one hand, several orders of magnitude lower than the measured
    radiated signals found near the electric meters and the DECT phones, yet, on the other hand,
    these conducted/reradiated signals were still substantially greater than the ambient emissions
    found generally in the same rooms as the conductive objects.
    The spatial peaks that occur near conductive objects connected to the house electrical wiring
    could be the result of two factors. First, there could be resonant re-­‐radiation of the over-­‐the-­‐air
    signal and/or, second, radiation of emissions conducted from the source. Resonant re-­‐radiation
    occurs when a conductor is of such electrical dimensions that it acts as a passive antenna,
    receiving a signal from the air, resonating and reradiating the signal. Such an object may or may
    not be connected to a wiring network like the house electrical system. Radiation of conducted
    emissions occurs when conducted energy (from the house wiring) reaches conditions that cause
    the conductive object to radiate like an antenna.