Let’s face it: advanced electric meters, or “smart meters,” have a reputation problem. Consumer concerns about health and privacy have given these devices a bad rap.

A video and fact sheet released yesterday by the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) set out to separate the facts from the fiction about smart meters and provide consumers with reliable information about the technology that refutes the most commonly circulated myths. For example:

  • Radio frequency exposure: It would take 375 years of direct contact with a smart meter to equal the same amount of radio frequency exposure from a daily, 15-minute cell phone call for one year.
  • Privacy infringement: Smart meters only know how much power is being used – not specifically how it’s being used – and utilities will continue to keep that data private as they’ve done for decades.
  • Economic benefits: Smart meters could reduce the cost of power interruptions by more than 75 percent, saving the American economy more than $150 billion a year.

“We’re setting the record straight about smart meters to help consumers lay their apprehension to rest and enjoy the many benefits of the technology,” said Patty Durand, SGCC executive director.

Smart meters, a common form of smart grid technology, are digital meters that have in many regions replaced the old analog meters used in homes to record electrical usage. The smart, digital meters can transmit energy consumption information back to the utility on a much more frequent schedule than analog meters, which require a meter reader to collect information. This automatic and continuous feed of information allows utilities to more efficiently match supply with demand. Greater reliability, faster power restoration, convenience and consumer control are just a few of the many benefits of smart meters.

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