MICHIGAN-Are smart meters safe?

Are smart meters safe?

  • Not everyone supports the wireless technology that allows public utilities to track real-time consumption and constantly monitor their networks’ operations.

By Kathy Jessup
Journal correspondent
Posted Jul. 31, 2015 at 9:13 PM


Not everyone supports the wireless technology that allows public utilities to track real-time consumption and constantly monitor their networks’ operations.

Nationwide, there are websites and chat rooms that claim to debunk the advantages of smart meters and suggest the new technology presents health risks, privacy invasion, higher customer bills and the loss of utility worker jobs.

John Griffith, city electric utility superintendent, said Sturgis and its project consultant have done the research and believe the new system will be safe, accurate and allow the city to save money by tracking citywide usage trends.

Still, in June, Sturgis city commissioners passed a measure that will allow its customers to decline to have a smart meter installed at their home or business.  But choosing to keep that old, analog meter will cost customers a one-time, $135 enrollment fee, plus a $30 monthly charge to have a city worker come out to read that meter.

So far, Griffith said he’s had only one caller with questions and no one has opted out. That could change as the system moves to full implementation in 2016, however.

Meanwhile, the Journal has been inundated with emails opposing smart meters from a woman known only as “Lois” from Redford, Mich. She alleges radiation from the smart meters installed on her home by a Detroit utility has caused debilitating headaches, painful joints, allergies, insomnia and feverish feeling.

Lois claims it’s “hard to find a doctor in Michigan” familiar with alleged meter-related illness. Her own doctor “told me I’m out of his realm of medicine.”

She offers no personal medical data specifically linking her symptoms to radiofrequency meters and admits she uses a cell phone that also exposes her to radiation.

Here’s a look at the arguments.

Health risk

Just like your cell phone and microwave, the smart meters emit radiofrequency radiation exposure. Opponents say the metering system emits dangerous levels of radiofrequency radiation, while proponents say the impact is less threatening than cells phones and microwaves.

Dr. Ronald Powell, a Harvard PhD in applied physics, alleges radiation from smart metering can compromise human health.

“The RF/Microwave radiation from Wireless Smart Meters is particularly threatening to health because that radiation is so persistent and so powerful,” Powell told The Heartland Institute. “…power companies like to fool the public by saying, ‘Look these Smart Meters just transmit 6 times a day.’ That may be how many times they transmit your data, but they are a relay station for all the other Smart Meters in the neighborhood. They all interact with each other and…that means that they are extremely busy.”

The American Cancer Society says radiofrequency meters are less of a risk than cell phones.


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