Two updates this week as PG&E continues to install SmartMeter™ devices that give customers greater awareness and control of energy usage and serve as a portal for the smart grid that will bring greater efficiency to California’s power supply and demand.
In Bakersfield, Kern County Superior Court Judge William D. Palmer dismissed a class-action suit filed in 2009 by a PG&E customer who sought to stop SmartMeter™ deployment based on claims of inaccuracy and billing errors, among other allegations. The suit was dismissed twice previously, but the judge gave the plaintiff opportunities to restate his case after each of those dismissals. On April 11, 2011, however, the judge dismissed the case outright and acknowledged the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) authority over SmartMeters™, including the CPUC’s commissioning of an independent study that found PG&E’s SmartMeters™ and the associated billing system to be accurate.
Final CCST report
The independent California Council on Science and Technology issued its final report on March 31 that concluded that Radio Frequency (RF) signals from SmartMeters™ do not pose a health risk. A preliminary version of the report, “Health Impacts of Radio Frequency from SmartMeters™,” was released in January 2011 following a public-comment period. As the report’s conclusion noted, “There is no evidence that additional standards are needed to protect the public from SmartMeters™.”
Some other final conclusions:
- In discussing the applicable Federal Communications Commission standards, the report found that “neither the relevant scientific literature nor our expert consultations support that there is a causal relationship between RF emissions and non-thermal human health impacts.”
- Also, “The FCC guidelines provide a significant factor of safety against known RF impacts that occur at the power levels and within the RF band used by SmartMeters™. Given current scientific knowledge, the FCC guideline provides a more than adequate margin of safety against known RF effects.”
- The report also defined the concept of scientific certainty, reaching the conclusion that in the absence of proof of ill-health effects, there are none.
- Finally, in calculating the SmartMeter’s duty cycle, the CCST determined that the maximum RF-exposure from a SmartMeter was approximately 30 percent of the FCC limit. This is based on a hypothetical case where a meter’s radio device is “on” all the time (receiving signals half of the time and sending signals the other half), which isn’t the case. Studies have shown that PG&E SmartMeters™ typically transmit data for about a total of 45 seconds per day.