SmartMeters send almost 10,000 signals a day

Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s wireless SmartMeters are designed to communicate directly with the utility, eliminating the need for meter readers.

Turns out they do a lot of talking.

According to a document PG&E filed with the California Public Utilities Commission this week, the typical meter sends out almost 10,000 radio-frequency signals per day.

The signals are very, very brief. Add them together, and the meter’s total transmission time equals a little more than 45 seconds per day. And the signals’ peak energy level falls well within federal standards, according to a PG&E spokesman.

Still, the sheer volume of transmissions will likely anger people who consider the radiation from cell phones, Wi-Fi computers and SmartMeters to be a health hazard. PG&E has often countered their criticism by noting that the digital meters don’t transmit continuously.The company, which has installed 8.7 million of the meters, maintains that their signals pose no threat. And of course the entire notion that wireless signals can be dangerous remains fiercely contested.

Earlier this year, the utilities commission ordered PG&E to offer its customers an alternative to receiving a wireless SmartMeter. In response, the company proposed giving people who request it a SmartMeter with the transmitter turned off. The commission is still studying that proposal, and the new details about the meters’ signals come from a document the company filed as part of that process.

The document cites information gathered by Silver Spring Networks, a Redwood City company that makes the meters’ communications components. Silver Spring examined data from about 88,000 meters that had already been installed, and found that on average, they sent out 9,981 signals per day. (That average, by the way, is the median. In other words, half of the meters sent more transmissions per day, while half sent less.) The vast majority of those signals — 9,600 — came from the devices relaying information from other meters. They’re designed to work as a mesh network, with meters keeping frequent contact with each other.

Silver Spring found one meter that sent out more than 190,000 signals in one day, according to the document. Although each signal was brief, the total transmission time topped 14 minutes. PG&E spokesman Greg Snapper noted that meter was far outside the norm.

– David R. Baker

4 Responses to “SmartMeters send almost 10,000 signals a day”

  1. Ruth O'Neill says:

    I do not want to have anything forced on me that may affect my health, my privacy and my budget in a negative way!
    People must be allowed to have a choice in this matter!
    I say NO to Smart Meters!!!

  2. colleen says:

    I have sent 2 registered letters to hydro…telling them not to install this thing on my house…they tell me they have moved me to a delay list…I have no choice it is going on regardless of how I feel..the Zar Rich Coleman says it is going on, there is no opt out…if you don’t like it get off the grid or leave the province…when I spoke with hydro I was informed they would be sending me a registered letter…then corix would show up at my door…they would tell me they will be shutting my power off for a minute while they change my meter…I told the girl…that is when I will tell them to leave my property….she told me they would leave then come back with backup….she said you don’t want to get belligerent with those guys or you will be in trouble…

    I am wondering how they can do this to us…are they still claiming this is a democracy? What can they do to us…

  3. Lavonne says:

    I would like to know our constitutional rights on this issue. Has anyone found out, or where does one start to find the answer?

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