Yesterday, responding to customer concerns and a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) request, PG&E proposed a way to let customers opt-out of having wireless SmartMeters.
EDF has been closely following this issue and is actively working on the development of the smart grid and the installation of smart meters. Modernizing our electricity system with information and networking technologies – such as PG&E’s SmartMeter – will let us diversify energy sources, eliminate enormous waste, save money and improve air quality, among other things.
We support PG&E giving customers a choice to turn off the wireless chips in their SmartMeters, but encourage consumers to keep them turned on. Keeping the wireless chip on will maximize the environmental, public health and economic benefits of the smart grid – cleaner air, lower energy prices, and accelerating our much-needed transition to a clean-energy economy.
While regulatory agencies and utilities must address public health concerns, research (such as that done by the non-profit, non-partisan California Council on Science and Technology) has not found a scientific link between exposure to radio frequencies from smart meters and human health.
What does pose a risk to all human health is burning fossil fuels to generate electricity. It is one of the biggest sources of pollution. It costs California hundreds of millions of dollars a year in hospital admissions and emergency room visits and the United States billions of dollars annually in health care costs and lost productivity. Even fortunate Americans who are not breathing polluted air pay a price for it.
A smarter grid can reduce this pollution by increasing the use of clean, renewable energy and reducing reliance on the most polluting fossil fuel power plants.
Turning the radio off will also prevent customers from seeing and taking full advantage of real-time usage and pricing information, which can bring cost savings and cleaner air.
We don’t know what percentage of ratepayers would choose the ‘radio off’ option and what effect it would have on PG&E’s ability to maximize the promised benefits of a smart grid. What we do know: some key benefits will be lost.
PG&E has proposed a flexible, long-term solution. It keeps the smart meters in place and lets individuals change their minds and take advantage of the technology that makes these benefits possible. While EDF supports PG&E’s choice of alternatives, we strongly encourage customers to keep their smart meters smart.