Assembly Member Jared Huffman (Marin), joined by Assembly
Member Bill Monning (Santa Cruz) has requested CCST to
provide an assessment of the safety of SmartMeters. CCST has
agreed to compile and assess the evidence available to address
the following two issues:
- Whether FCC standards for SmartMeters are sufficiently
protective of public health taking into account current exposure
levels to radiofrequency and electromagnetic fields.
- Whether additional technology specific standards are
needed for SmartMeters and other devices that are commonly
found in and around homes, to ensure adequate
protection from adverse health effects.
SmartMeters are electronic monitoring devices that continuously
measure the electricity output from each household
and business. They communicate on a regular basis back to
the utility. The goal is to enable power companies to better
understand patterns of power consumption throughout the
day and adjust power generation accordingly. Traditional
electrical meters only measure total consumption and do not
provide information on when the energy was consumed.
Power companies across the United States and Europe are
turning to smartmeter technology to increase the efficiency
of their power distribution and pricing. The system also allows
power companies to pinpoint exact locations of outages
during blackouts. Consumers, however, have raised concerns
about the technology.
The Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and other utility
service providers have been installing wireless SmartMeters
statewide in California since November 2006 under the authority
of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC),
which is seeking to guide the development of a "smart grid"
power system in California that can facilitate integration of
new technologies such as distributed generation, storage, demand-
side technologies, and electric vehicles. PG&E plans to
complete implemention of the devices statewide throughout
their service regions by 2012; as of the beginning of October,
over 6.5 million meters had been installed, of a total planned
9.8 million meters.
Public concerns over the devices, both in California and elsewhere,
have been raised about the impact of the SmartMeter
intermittent wireless transmissions and the overall issue of
the cumulative effect of ubiquitous wireless signals upon
peoples' health. PG&E assures consumers that the devices being
installed fully comply with FCC safety standards and thus
are not a health risk. In large part because of these health
concerns, some local governments have sought temporary
moratoriums on installing the meters, a move that helped
prompt the legislative request to CCST.
CCST is being asked to address whether they do comply with
the FCC standards and if those guidelines are sufficient to
protect public health.
"We note that there is also public concern that the FCC standards
are not sufficiently protective of public health and may
not take into account the cumulative effect of radiation exposure
from a growing number of sources and devices," said
CCST Chair Charles Kennel, "While it is not possible to predict
future evidence or further effects, we can give [the State] a
conclusive assessment from current knowledge."
CCST's report is to assess whether FCC standards for Smart-
Meters are sufficiently protective of public health, and to ensure
adequate protection from adverse health effects.
"The promise of the smart grid and SmartMeters is that they
can provide a tool to help reduce energy use by offering instant
feedback to customers who can shift their energy use
from peak hours," said Assemblyman Bill Monning, who joined
Assemblyman Huffman in asking for CCST's input on the matter.
"[But] like any new technology, good data must support
decisions about whether the benefits outweigh the costs."