But the Las Vegas Sun gets one of those five things wrong.
The Sun reports in “Smart meters 101: Five things you need to know“:
What is a smart meter, and why do we have them?
Smart meters are digital devices that measure electricity usage in homes and business and wirelessly transmit that information to the utility for billing.
About 50 million smart meters have been installed in the United States over the past decade, but they’ve only recently arrived in Nevada.
As part of President Barack Obama’s push to update the country’s electricity grid, NV Energy got a matching grant of $139 million through the federal stimulus. The utility began installing them in September 2010, after the Nevada Public Utilities Commission deemed them safe, secure, private and accurate.
Will this wireless beaming make me sick?
No. The radio frequencies emitted by the smart meters are 15,000 times lower than the limit set by the Federal Communications Commission, said Gary Smith, NV Energy’s director of the smart meter program.
The intensity of the radio frequency is 5,000 times less than a cellphone, 3,200 less than a cordless phone in a home and 26 times less than a wireless router in your home.
Are they accurate?
The meters are tested by the manufacturer, by NV Energy and the UNR, through a contract with the utility. Through 2011, when 500,000 meters were installed, there were 60 requests to have meters tested. NV Energy determined all 60 had been accurate, Smith said.
Is my information safe?
No Social Security information, driver’s license numbers, addresses, birth dates or other identifying information is transmitted from the smart meter. Instead, an encrypted code is used to identify the house and its usage, Smith said.
Users can then log in to the secure web portal, where they use a password they create.
The PUC also said NV Energy would use an encrypted radio frequency and “best-in-industry” technology.
Can NV Energy shut off my air conditioner via the smart meter??
No. Smith said the company can’t determine individual appliance usage, only overall household usage.
As to the last point about utilities shutting off individual appliances, appliance makers and utilities are working on “smart” appliances that can be controlled through the smart meters and the Internet.
As we reported in August 2009, for example:
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) plans to control your home appliances when you’re not there.
According to SmartGridToday, the TVA is planning a $400 million smart meter pilot program, including $200 million of Obama stimulus money, that would allow the TVA to turn off appliances when people are away from their homes and businesses.
And just how will the TVA know when you are away? What if you don’t want your appliances turned off?
Smart meters are on the pathway to electricity rationing.