Blog Post

Coming Soon: PG&E’s Latest Plan to Calm Smart Meter Foes

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Smart grid companies take note: the battle over smart meters in California isn’t going away any time soon and will likely get more complicated. It could even impact tech companies that have banked on the rollout of a massive amount of meters connected to wireless networks.

The president of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Michael Peevey, said Thursday that he has asked Pacific Gas and Electric – the largest utility in the state – to come up with alternatives to wireless smart meters within two weeks.

The order came after months of intense protests by some PG&E customers over whether the radio frequency emitted from the meters makes people sick. Research has shown that RF emission from smart meters poses no known health risks and is in fact lower than what comes from cell phones and microwaves, but more studies on the long term effects have been called for.

PG&E also has faced criticism over the accuracy of the smart meters and went through a public relations nightmare to convince its customers and regulators that its meters were working fine. A state-ordered report concluded as much last fall.

What the utility is facing isn’t unique as similar issues have cropped up in other smart meter rollouts around the country. If offering alternatives to wireless meters is deemed a good solution, then other utilities and state regulators might follow suit to quell concerns.

The details of these alternative plans could affect tech developers who have counted on wireless meter deployment as part of their business plans. PG&E hasn’t said what its alternative offerings might be, but providing wired meters is the likely option. Or it could stop installing smart meters all together and allow customers to keep their analog meters, which can’t provide feedback on the energy use at a home or business.

Managing a network with different technologies poses some headaches for the utility. Moreover, allowing analog and digital meters to co-exist makes it difficult for tech companies to promote products whose primary selling point is to allow consumers better monitor and control their energy use and costs.

A variety of companies are peddling energy monitoring gadgets and software that would show electricity use throughout the day and point out energy uses that could be dialed back to save money. Some of these equipment developers are working with utilities as part of their smart meter deployment plans.

And, of course, any drop in wireless smart meter installations also could means changes to manufacturing plans and sales forecast for wireless meter makers and their component suppliers, such as General Electric, Landis+Gyr and Silver Spring Networks. But such impact is hard to gauge without knowing specific changes of plans from utilities. PG&E already has replaced nearly eight million of its roughly 10 million old meters with wireless ones, said Greg Snapper, a PG&E spokesman.

3 Responses to “Coming Soon: PG&E’s Latest Plan to Calm Smart Meter Foes”

  1. RobertWilliams


    And Insurance companies don’t sacrifice insurance premiums ($$$) for no reason.

    TV NEWS VIDEO – Insurance Companies Won’t Insure Wireless Device Health Risks (3 minutes, 13 seconds)

    2. WIRELESS SMART METERS TRANSMIT RADIATION APPROXIMATELY 25,000 TIMES PER DAY, 24/7, not 45 seconds per day as claimed by PG$E.

    VIDEO – Radiation Measured From Smart Meter Mounted On A Home (6 minutes, 21 seconds)

    3. CELL DAMAGE, DNA BREAKS and BREACHES IN THE BLOOD-BRAIN BARRIER observed in laboratory tests from low levels of pulsed RF signal radiation as emitted by Wireless smart meters – reported by Top Wireless radiation scientists in the world at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco Nov 18, 2010:
    VIDEO –

    2-page Press Release:

    Comparing cell phones and Wireless smart meters is comparing apples and oranges. Simple signal strength comparisons of one device to another encouraged by PG$E PR reps or done by amateurs are guiding many people into dangerous environments.

    Wireless smart meters are unique in that they transmit 24/7 without shut off switch and without relief. Humans can recover from significant adversity and stress, but 24/7 pulsed transmissions from Wireless smart meters mounted to homes dominates the sleep time for human recovery and the pulsed signal radiation from the Wireless meters dominates the natural electronic communications originating in the brain.

    32 Cities and Counties have taken formal positions AGAINST PG$E’s WIRELESS smart meters and 10 of them have passed ORDINANCES prohibiting the meters.

    The previous comment from Mark may be sincere from a real person. It doesn’t sound like a comment from one of the PG$E shills that plaster many of the comment sections.

    If so, Mark, please take a look at the above videos, follow up with peer reviewed reports from the scientists in video #3 if you like and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

    For More Information:

    • Few things Rob

      – Residential meters don’t transmit that much data. The load is relatively flat honestly. So your rate of ~ 17+ transmissions per minute is WAY off. Besides, there is no comm. network in the world that could handle all that data.

      – In terms of the wireless spectrum used for communication, you realized its currently being used everyday right, with or without meters?

      – Meter’s don’t transmit 24/7. That’s a HUGE waste of energy with no benefit. As I said what’s the benefit to the utility in reading say 30kW 90 times in a row? Even less so during “sleep time for human recovery”, because that’s the flattest load of them all.

      While to an extend I agree with your motives, it would be in your benefit to link up with some guys that truly know this stuff. Some of your facts are WAY off base and its takes away from your credibility.

  2. The concern over “health” problems caused by the smart meters is nothing more than a smokescreen to cover the real issue people have with them. It’s just one that gets more leverage….

    The real issue is that once installed, peoples power bills will go up when time of use metering is possible.