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Smart Meters a Smart Choice
April 19, 2012 -
I received an invitation to a smart-meter community meeting and saw the link in the Messenger. Unfortunately, I couldn't attend the meeting.
After I ran into an overly passionate Topangan at the coffee shop this morning who urged me to demand an opt-out program for evil smart meters, I felt compelled to write this e-mail.
There is a lot of hype and misinformation out there, around smart meters. I am very interested in this issue and consider myself fairly informed on the matter. So far, I have not come across credible, founded evidence that confirms any serious health risks associated with smart meters.
While smart meters do in fact emit Radio Frequency (RF), they do so at roughly 1/10 of the strength of a cell phone and are much less dangerous than your microwave oven.
Smart meters are essential in implementing our next generation electric grid technologies, or smart grid. It is a fact that the smart grid brings great environmental benefits: reduced greenhouse gases, reduced burning of fossil fuels and enhanced integration of solar and wind power. For operators and the customer it will allow for adoption of residential time-of-use pricing and demand response programs, which are nearly impossible to deliver seamlessly and automatically without fully enabled smart meters.
I encourage everyone to go to reliable sources for research and judge for yourselves. I would venture to assume that if you do so, you will find that the benefits of smart meters and smart grid far outweigh the potential risks they pose to human health.
Countless communities in North America have embraced smart meters in anticipation of the benefits that smart grid promises. In smart grid pilot projects, communities have regularly experienced up to 30 percent drop in consumption of electricity. Europe is on course to have 100 million smart meters in place by 2016 and believe me, its pretty hard to bamboozle the Europeans into anything they feel is unsafe or jeopardizes their privacy!
And finally, certain communities do have opt-out programs in place, but they will come at a cost to the customer, currently at a rate of approximately $20 upfront and between $10 and $12 every month thereafter and this does not take into account the money customers could save after they take advantage of the data made available to them through their smart meters.
In communities where opt-out programs are offered, such as in Maine and San Francisco, utilities find that fewer people than expected actually choose to opt out. Utilities have never been great at communicating and no one really likes their utility. It also doesnt help that they seemingly install the meters when no ones looking.
So, to the utility company I suggest you do a better job at engaging with the community and, if a choice is offered, you may be positively surprised at the low opt-out rate. Perhaps for the money your customers can save by accepting their smart meters, but more likely for the simple reason that smart meters and smart grids are just that smart!
Id be happy to participate in future meetings and to continue the dialogue.