How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My New Smart Meter

Smart Meter

Smart Meter

One day, it just happened: I came home from work at the end of a hard-earned day to find a new PG&E Smart Meter blinking at me from the front of my house.

Sure, I’d been warned that this would occur via some slick mailings produced by the PG&E Propaganda Department. But it all seemed so… sudden. For years I’ve bumped along with one of those old-fashioned meters with spinning dials and complex mechanical innards, and then in a single day I was transported into the 21st century by a new meter with LCD readouts and wireless data transfer capabilities. Oh my!

So how is it going? Admittedly, I have been experiencing some bizarre health effects ever since the Smart Meter was installed. Specifically, I keep having hallucinatory dreams about a Zombie Ed McMahon ringing my doorbell to drop off a gigantic check for $13 million from Publisher’s Clearinghouse Giveaway. But correlation is not causation, so I’m trying to separate the spooky substance of my undead nightmares from the arrival of my Smart Meter.

The same cannot be said for a few nervous souls on the bernalheightsparents mailing list, however. They worry that the new wireless Smart Meters emit radiation, and radiation is bad, so these meters must be bad. Because, you see, they emit radiation. And this radiation can have (as one commenter put it) “toxic effects.”

Now, one can reasonably argue that Smart Meters erode personal privacy. Likewise, it could be argued that Smart Meters are a diabolical high-tech tool that will enable PG&E to jack up your electricity bills. Personally, I don’t think either of those things are true, but on these points at least reasonable people can reasonably disagree.

Yet on the topic of “toxic threats,” the arguments don’t hold up well to rational analysis. Bernal resident Fiid Williams is a member of the bernalheightsparents mailing list, and yesterday he weighed in on the debate with a simple primer about wireless technology and radiation hazards that should be required reading for anyone who has concerns about the safety of Smart Meters, cellphone towers, or any of the other wireless data transmission systems that pervade our contemporary, glamorous, jet-set lives.

Neighbor Fiid’s comments are reprinted in their entirety, by permission:

There are two principles that matter here.

1) Non-Ionizing vs Ionizing Radiation

Ionizing radiation = nuclear reactors, radioactive materials, x-rays. CAUSES CANCER.

Non-ionizing radiation = radios, cell phones, smart meters, wireless routers. There is no currently understood biological pathway for non-ionizing radiation to cause cancer.

2) Inverse Square Law

Say you have a 40 Watt traditional lightbulb in a closet. I’d submit it’s enough light to see.

Put it in a 10 foot square room, and it’s pretty inadequate, correct? This illustrates the inverse square law. As you move away from a transmitter, the power that you get from it goes down the cube square of your distance away from it.

This is why everyone expects cellphones to cause cancer. The transmitter is _RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR HEAD_. Oddly though, the studies that are coming out on cell phones continue to be inconclusive.

As it pertains to Smart Meters, the transmitters are far away from you, so you’re getting minuscule fractions of watts from them, and the radiation they emit they only emit for short periods of time, (because they don’t transmit much information), and it’s the wrong kind of radiation for a provable cancer risk.

If you walk to the Good Life once a week, your traffic accident risk dwarfs this. I was concerned that my bill would go up (which is didn’t), but not at all about the RF element.

Nicely said. Yet if you have further doubts, consider reading this eminently balanced article about the safety of Smart Meters written by the Environmental Defense Fund, which says much the same thing.

All I need now is for someone to tell me how to make these vexing hallucinations about Zombie Ed McMahon go away. A tinfoil beanie, perhaps?

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics