It’s time to take the aluminum foil off your head, according to the Atlanta-based Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC), a nonprofit organization that is focused on clearing up misconceptions about, and promoting the benefits of, a modernized electric delivery platform throughout the United States.
The SGCC is here to say that radiation from smart meters doesn’t cause cancer. What’s more, the industry-based membership wants customers to know that smart meters don’t spy on the households in which they are installed, or start fires when least expected—and the SGCC is offering a video, a fact sheet and a newly released website (www.WhatIsSmartGrid.org) to get those points across.
The organization states, “Misunderstanding advanced technology can lead to the emergence of urban legends. The case is no different with smart meters, which utilities are rolling out across the country in an effort to bring the benefits of a modernized electric grid to consumers.”
The message from the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative is, first and foremost, don’t panic about smart meters! (Photo courtesy of SGCC)
Indeed, 40 million wireless smart meters have been rolled out nationwide in the United States since 2009; and tens of millions more, globally. But not to everyone’s satisfaction: Concurrently, ratepayers in California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont and a host of other states, have pushed back—asking for free opt-out provisions to regional utility plans.
That’s not necessary and will not allow many ratepayers to benefit from the advantages of a more reliable and resilient grid, SGCC states—pointing out that its members believe the following are urban legends, not facts.
MYTH–Smart meters are a health threat because they communicate using wireless signals.
TRUTH: In-depth review of the scientific literature by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that the small amount of radio frequency (RF) energy produced by smart meters is not harmful to human health.
TRUTH: RF emitted by smart meters is well below the limits set by Federal Communications Commission and it is below levels produced by other common household devices —such as cell phones, baby monitors, satellite TVs, and microwaves. In fact, you would have to be exposed to the RF from a smart meter for 375 years to get a dose equivalent to that of one year of 15-minutes-per-day cell phone use.
MYTH–Smart meters will not keep my data secure.
TRUTH: Just as the banking, credit card and cable industries have provided secure access to your information online, the utility industry is poised to do the same using advanced security and encryption technology to safeguard your data.
TRUTH: Utilities are involved in national consortiums and work with national cyber-security to regularly audit their systems to ensure the privacy and security of smart meters.
MYTH–Smart meters are hazardous, increasing the risk of fire and explosion.
TRUTH: Smart meters must meet safety requirements and standards spelled out in the National Electric Safety Code (NESC).
TRUTH: Public service commissions require independent certification proving that smart meters are safe and that they show resistance to heat, fire, voltages, surges, and self-heating.
MYTH–Smart meters are an invasion of privacy.
TRUTH: Smart meters measure how much energy you use, based on time of day, not how you use that energy. Unless you install a home energy management system, smart meters cannot tell whether the energy used is from your oven, air conditioner, or hairdryer.
TRUTH: Utilities adhere to strict policies, following state laws that regulate the use of personal information for business functions like billing and customer service.
To sum it up, the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative wants ratepayers to understand “The smart grid is the evolution of our current electrical grid, using new technology to optimize the conservation and delivery of power. All told, the smart grid promises to increase the efficiency of today’s system by around 9 percent by 2030, saving more than 400 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) each year. That’s huge. That means we could save $42 billion in year one and as we keep saving energy, its value each year only increases.”
Edited by Rory J. Thompson