California Assemblymember Jared Huffman has introduced legislation today in response to consumer concerns raised over potential health effects of smart meters, the Advanced Metering Infrastructure currently being deployed by California utilities to better manage electricity consumption and pricing.

Numerous constituents, along with the Marin County Board of Supervisors and several city councils, have expressed concerns about the potential health effects of exposure to radio frequency emissions from the new smart meters and have questioned whether current federal standards are sufficient to ensure the protection of public health.

Huffman’s bill, AB 37, directs the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to provide an “opt-out” alternative for customers who do not wish to have a wireless smart meter installed, and to require utilities to make this option available using wired technology that provides equivalent smart grid reliability and efficiency. It also directs the utilities to disclose important information about the smart meters to consumers, including the timing, magnitude, frequency and duration of RF emissions so that individual consumers can make informed decisions. The bill directs the CPUC to temporarily suspend deployment of smart meters until this opt-out alternative is in place.

“This bill is about giving consumers reasonable choices. Whether or not you believe RF exposures from smart meters are harmful, it’s only fair that consumers who are concerned about health effects be given complete technical information and the choice of another technology for devices that are installed at their homes,” said Huffman. “We can do that while preserving the effectiveness of the smart grid and all the benefits it will bring for consumers and the environment.”

In July, Huffman asked the California Council on Science and Technology, a non-partisan, impartial, non-profit group that provides expert advice on science and technology to the Legislature, to examine the issue and assess whether current safety standards are sufficient. The Council is in the process of conducting a thorough review of the safety of smart meters and a preliminary report is expected later this month.

Assemblymember Jared Huffman represents the 6th Assembly District, which encompasses southern Sonoma County and all of Marin County. First elected in 2006, Huffman chairs the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee and also serves as Co-Chair with Senator Fran Pavley of the Legislative Environmental Caucus.