New SmartMeters like these may be more efficient over all, but rates pegged to market demand may give some customers a nasty surprise.
A new government study may take the wind out of some conspiracy theorists' sails, with evidence indicating that SmartMeters do not, in fact, cause any health problems.
According to the Press Democrat, the thermal energy emitted by the utility meters is a tiny fraction of what federal guidelines consider safe. Their output is about one seventieth of the limit of radio exposure.
But unanswered questions remain. The study only addresses thermal energy, which leaves open the possibility that other types of energy escapes from the meters. Nevertheless, the scientists concluded that the devices, which transmit energy usage wirelessly, are safe. Other major health organizations have been unable to find any link between radio and illness.
SmartMeter opponents have made for strange bedfellows lately. A teaparty group is joined by environmental alarmists with worries that range from infringement of privacy to infringement of previous bodily tissues.
Other groups have objected that the meters would allow utilities to vary energy prices according to market availability, allowing the state to conserve power during shortages.
The study is accepting public comment until the end of the month at ccst.us.
Lawmakers are pushing for options that would accommodate citizens who are suspicious of SmartMeters. Under that proposal, PG&E would have to provided non-SmartMeter alternatives.
So far, tens of thousands of the meters have been installed in Sonoma County.