As these technologies have developed over the past few years, one component of AMI, the Automatic Meter Reader (AMR) has especially attracted questions from electric utility residential customers. AMR displaces and expands the role of the meter reader, who entered a home or building premises to manually record electrical power usage, mainly for billing purposes.

AMRs transfer data wirelessly with a radio-frequency (RF) transmission to a nearby NAN, as described above, in some cases to a utility service vehicle with data collection equipment situated outside of the residence, or less commonly, over a physical wire system, such as telephone or powerline carrier current. The technology not only provides a highly efficient method for obtaining usage data from customers, but it also can provide up-to-the-minute information on consumption patterns since the meter reading devices can be programmed to provide data as often as needed. AMR can also be used for Time-of-Use pricing applications and pinpointing outages.

Specifically, customer questions have arisen concerning the level of personal RF exposures from AMRs within and around a residence and any health implications of such exposure. The remainder of this commentary deals with this issue....(Read more...)