New Smart Meters Raise Radiation Concerns

An Alamedan has been on a mission to prove Alameda Municipal Power’s (AMP) newly installed smart meters emit more radio-frequency (RF) radiation than AMP suggests.

Christopher Rabe contacted AMP in September expressing his concerns about the RF radiation levels the new smart meters emit. According to AMP’s website, the smart meters, which are manufactured by Landis & Gyr, a worldwide smart meter and smart grid manufacturing company, emit about 83 seconds of RF frequency waves per day. This comes from 270 maintenance transmissions per day and 1,440 sync transmissions per day. Each transmission lasts a few milliseconds.

However, Rabe has used his own RF meter to monitor RF wave transmissions from several smart meters around Alameda. He recorded the videos and published them on YouTube. In the videos, Rabe stands in front of a smart meter and analyzes how many times his RF meter picks up pulsed microbursts of RF radiation. In the video the meter pings, a sign of a transmission, at a rate more frequently than the 1,700 times a day AMP suggests. Rabe believes one smart meters transmits more than 9,000 times per day. 

Nevertheless, AMP claims the number of transmissions, the duration and the power output of AMP’s smart meters are well within FCC safe exposure levels. AMP says the readings their meters emit between 1 and 6 microwatts per square centimeter when two feet away from the meter, compared to the FCC limit of 601 microwatts per square centimeter.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there is still no way to determine accurately the health risks of smart meters. “Because, the amount of RF radiation you could be exposed to from a smart meter is much less than what you could be exposed to from a cell phone, it is very unlikely that living in a house with a smart meter increases risk of cancer,” according to the ACS. RF emitted by a smart meter is around 40 microwatts. That is less than a cell phone (1,000 to 5,000 microwatts) and a microwave (up to 200 microwatts), according to AMP.

AMP installed the new smart meters to get a more accurate portrayal of a resident’s electricity usage daily and hourly.