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Making the case for smart meters

July 08, 2011

Utilities are installing smart meters and moving toward a smarter grid. Modernizing our electrical and water infrastructure by integrating new technologies helps bring our system into the 21st century in order for us to meet future needs of our community in a safe, reliable and environmentally responsible way.

Knowing the facts is vital to understanding the issues and benefits. The best way to understand how the smart grid helps you is to ask some basic questions:

1. How high is my water and electric usage and how much will my next bill be? Previously, you wouldn’t know these answers until you received your next bill. With smart meters, you will see your usage in near real-time through future in-home displays and online. Your usage is communicated and displayed securely so that you can make informed choices about your usage.

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2. How do I know if I have a water leak on my property? You may not know about this leak until you receive your water bill two months from now. With smart meters, you could be alerted to a water leak, which could save you hundreds of dollars.

3. To help keep my utility bills down, should I reschedule some of my appliances? The smart grid gives you access to your usage online so you know the time of day when you are using the most power, allowing you to plan accordingly in order to save money.

These are just a few of the benefits of smart meters and the smart grid. As with any new technology, there may be concerns. We have heard concerns about possible radio frequency health affects and the privacy of data.

Our research indicates that these concerns are based on unfounded reports and claims found on the Internet that have no scientific support.

Radio frequency waves are all around us and are used in various electronics, including cell phones, microwaves, baby monitors, cordless phones and radio broadcasting. Since 1996, the Federal Communications Commission requires all wireless communications devices sold in the United States to meet specific guidelines for safe human exposure to radio frequency energy.

According to several reputable organizations, including the California Council on Science and Technology, the World Health Organization and the Utilities Telecom Council, there is no demonstrated cause-and-effect relationship between low levels of radio frequency exposure and health.

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