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Debunking 6 myths about smart meters

Courtesy of the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, here are facts about smart/digital meters and six commonly circulated myths — debunked.

1. Smart meters are less accurate than analog meters.

Public service commissions require meter manufacturers to supply independently certified testing results to prove that their smart meters provide accurate measurements.

A smart / digital meter installed by Pepco on the author’s home in Maryland. CREDIT: The Energy Fix

2. Smart meters are a health threat because they communicate using wireless signals.

There is no credible evidence of any threat to human health from the radio frequency emissions at or below limits developed by the Federal Communications Commission. You get more exposure to radio frequency (RF) emissions from 15 minutes of cell phone use per day for a year than RFs from 375 years from a smart meter.

 3. Smart meters will not keep my data secure.

Consumption data is protected now and utilities are working with nation cyber-security experts to audit their systems.

4. Smart meters are hazardous, increasing the risk of fire and explosion.

Provided they are installed by trained professionals, smart meters meet requirements and standards spelled out in the National Electric Safety Code.

5. Smart meters are an invasion of privacy.

Unless you install a home energy management system, smart meters cannot tell how homeowners use energy. There are laws regulating the use of personal information for business functions.

6. Smart meters do no provide any consumer benefits.

This is perhaps the biggest myth. Once activated, smart meters improve power outage detection and recovery. They also provide near real-time energy usage information, including how you can manage the real-time pricing of power.

Read more facts debunking each of these myths here.

Jim Pierobon's picture

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Bob Bichen's picture
Bob Bichen on Aug 26, 2012 4:28 pm GMT

Provide a source for: "You get more exposure to radio frequency (RF) emissions from 15 minutes of cell phone use per day for a year than RFs from 375 years from a smart meter." or stop repeating this lie.

A "smart" meter has two one watt transmitters. A typical cell phone is 0.3 watt to 0.6 watt. The above statement is beyond ridiculous. Furthermore there are thousands of scientific studies proving harm from chronic low-level microwave radiation, especiallly pulsed. See the Bionitiative Report. All wireless is hackable; ask any security expert. "Smart" meters are an invasion of privacy. They constitute a warrantless search of a home recording every energy usage in realtime indicating exactly what your activities are.

Mark Martin's picture
Mark Martin on Aug 27, 2012 4:47 pm GMT

Bob, stop spreading false information.  We're swimming in radiation every day.  And utilities were able to track usage real time before smart meters.  Unless you install equipment behind the meter, they can't know exactly what you're doing.



Jim Pierobon's picture
Jim Pierobon on Aug 28, 2012 12:07 am GMT

Mr. Bichen:

Per your request for a source, here is one of several credentialed authorities who has weighed in with testimony ruling out the possible health effects of RF emissions from smart meters.

It comes from Peter A. Valberg, Ph.D, who testified this past April before the Maryland Public Service Commission on Baltimore Gas & Electric's deployment and proposed cost-recovery of smart meter installations occuring throughout its service territory this year.

Valberg taught physics at Amherst College for 5 years and was on the faculty in the Dept. of Environmental Health at Harvard's School of Public Health for 25 years. He has served on advisory panels of the National Institutes of Health and the National Academy of Sciences, among other U.S. and multi-lateral government agencies. When he gave his testimony, he was (and may still be) an environmental health scientist at Gradient, a consulting firm based in Cambridge, Mass.

I can email you his testimony if you provide me your email address. Or you can find it starting here using Case No. 9208 and the text below, along with his name.

No Health Threat From Smart Meters - Maryland Public Service Commission ...

Bob Bichen's picture
Bob Bichen on Aug 28, 2012 6:41 am GMT

The evidence provided by Peter A. Valberg does not show that "smart" meters are safe for several reasons. One of the most egregious is the assumption that there will be no exposure closer than 10 feet. A bank of 20 or more "smart" meters could be placed on an apartment wall adjacent to which a sleeping child's head is present. There is no guideline, rule, stipulation or other directive ensuring the separation of "smart' metes from victims is greater than 10 feet. It's quite possible that a person could be exposed for years at a distance of one foot, and to dozens of meters. This increases the exposure by a level of 100 due to the distance according to the inverse square law. Add the factor of 20 and it's now 2000 times what Valberg claims the victim is receiving. Not only is this exposure to the head, but also to the whole body, as nuclear scientist, Dr. Daniel Hirsch has shown. The cumulative exposure to the entire body is shown by Dr. Hirsch to be over 100 times that of typical cell phone use because the "smart" meter is pulsing 24/7 continuously and cannot be turned off by the customer. Since a human nervous system encompasses the entire body, this whole body analysis is valid.

Furthermore, the FCC guidelines were admitted in 2002 by the Environmental Protection Agency to be NOT APPLICABLE to LOW-LEVEL MICROWAVE RADIATION. This is exactly the form of radiation emitted by "smart" meters. Claiming that a "smart" meter falls within the FCC guidelines for thermal effects provides no reassurance that other negative biological effects are not happening. Human beings are electrical by nature and operate biological systems with signaling at the level of tens of millivolts. Microwave energy has been shown to affect these processes with negative effects including blood brain barrier leakage, calcium ion transfer blockage and changes in glucose metabolism. The mechanism causing these effects is induction, the same process by which the alternator in your car charges the battery. To claim that this is not possible is claiming the laws of physics do not apply to human beings. For Dr. Valberg to claim ignorance of these studies proving these effects is professional malfeasance given his claimed expertise in this field.

Comparing chronic pulsed microwave radiation with other sources of electromagnetic radiation is terribly disingenuous. Humans evolved over hundreds of thousands of years with a microwave radiation level billions of times lower than the field from a smart meter in close proximity. As an obvious example of the different properties of different frequencies of radiation, sunlight will not penetrate opaque objects but microwaves will. To compare the two as equals is a deliberate attempt at obfuscating the dangers inherent in microwaves. Microwaves have been known and used as weapons in the military for decades. Their effect on the human body has been known as long. The only possible explanation for Valberg's claimed ignorance of the detrimental effects of microwaves is a conflict of interest. Typically, 75% of studies funded by the wireless industry show no detrimental health effects, while the numbers are reversed for non-industry funded legitimate science. As the second largest industry in the world, the stakes are high, and the truth of the danger of microwaves being revealed to the general public would be disastrous to profits, which unfortunately are more important than people’s health.

Char Zehfus's picture
Char Zehfus on Sep 2, 2012 5:11 pm GMT

It is helpful to understand where we are with smart meters and RF exposure standards by looking at the beginning. Historically, concern was raised about low levels of microwave/radiofrequency exposure, which was muffled early on by the U.S. industry-government complex. Proof of this can be found at Magda Havas' website with over 2300 studies commissioned by the Naval Medical Research Institute, and authored by Zorach (“Zory”) R. Glaser, Ph.D., LT, MSC, USNR in 1972. It includes "Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Radiation (Radiowaves and Microwaves),"Early Research on the Biological Effects of Microwave Radiation: 1940-1960," "Origins of 1966 U.S. Safety Standards for Microwave Radiation," etc.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently called for the development of new exposure guidelines based on non-thermal effects of RF, since the FCC currently has no regulation of anything but microwave heating levels. To compare current U.S. standards to other countries' see JustProveIt under "Standards." What you see there will show you why wireless has been allowed to explode here, while other countries base their guidelines on protecting public health from biological risks.

Exposure to radiation of any kind is cumulative, even sunlight can cause cellular damage and cancer. The World Health Organization, despite strong industry pressure, classified RF from cellular phones as a class 2b potential carcinogen, along with lead and vehicle exhaust. No utility or business ought to have the right to pump even small amounts of lead or vehicle exhaust into my baby's bedroom 24/7.


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