Only a small percentage of meters in the United States are smart meters, but some sources expect 15-20 percent of meters each year to transition to smart technology. In fact, grant funds for smart-grid technologies were part of the federal government's economic stimulus package in October 2010.
The idea of a smart meter is that it can collect data on not only how much energy is being used but when you use it. Advocates point to the fact that smart meters can help customers make wise choices about when to use appliances and electronics in order to control energy costs. You would know your energy use by either looking at the digital readout on the device or, eventually, looking up your energy use on the utility website.
Detractors say collecting this amount of information about our activities and putting it in the hands of the utility company is a breach of privacy. The meters will know when we get up and go to bed or if we are even home and relay this information to a computer possibly far away.
Plans also call for antennae to be installed in appliances and electronics so they can communicate wirelessly with the smart meter. Naysayers say this would mean that you will not be the only one who knows how often you make toast or blow dry your hair. This would also mean that homes would have several extra sources of radio frequency radiation, and citizens are not comfortable with assurances from the utility companies. Some people are extra-sensitive to electromagnetic radiation and experience headaches, sleeplessness and fatigue, not to mention the problems with pacemakers and other implanted electronic devices.
Many states employ wireless smart meters which use radio frequencies to transmit their information back to the utility company. There have been countless protests over wireless smart meters from Maine to California, where town hall meetings have been rocked by shouts of concern over health issues connected to radio frequency radiation.
During a public forum in Maine in which many citizens voiced distrust of the safety of wireless devices, even the representative from the Maine Center for Disease Control acknowledged that there is little long-term evidence to prove the safety of smart meters, but there is also little evidence to prove consistently that the meters have adverse health effects.
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