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Smart Meter Radio Frequency Position Statement

Memphis Light, Gas and Water strives to provide customers with dependable, low-cost, environmentally conscious service. In keeping with this environmental stewardship, MLGW has begun several projects related to Smart Grid technologies, including the installation of electric, gas and water  smart meters at approximately 24,000 homes within Shelby County.  Based on this phase 1 success, MLGW is now moving forward with phase 2—full deployment.  

Smart meters replace the electro-mechanical meter that utilities have used for decades and which manufacturers no longer produce.  All electric smart meters are digital, but not all digital meters include the built-in communications capability to make them “smart.”  Smart meters are designed to help modernize the electricity grid - resulting in lower costs and higher billing accuracy, as well as potentially helping customers become better informed about their utiltity use.  Smart meters also have features to automatically notify the utility when power is lost and again when power is restored, helping expedite power restoration.  (With traditional meters, MLGW doesn’t know an individual’s power is out until someone calls to report it.)  Electric smart meters have temperature and voltage sensors to alert MLGW when conditions exceed specified thresholds, indicating a hazardous situation.  Gas and water distribution systems also benefit from the use of smart meters, including alerts about potential water leaks.  

More than 50 million smart meters have been installed in the U.S.,as of July 2014, according to The Edison Foundation’s Institute for Electric Innovation.  That’s 43% of U.S. homes.

Nationally, some small segments of the population have expressed concern about the radio-frequency (RF) fields used by smart meters for communications - but these concerns are not well founded.  The RF exposures from smart meters are much lower than from many other common household devices, such as cordless telephones.  The smart meters being installed by MLGW comply fully with the RF safety standards adopted by the U.S. government for wireless communication devices.  Recent evaluations of the scientific research on RF fields by U.S regulators and international public health agencies such as the World Health Organization have not found a causal link between RF fields and adverse health effects.

As MLGW studies the operational and customer benefits of smart meters, we continue to monitor industry trends and scientific research to ensure our services remain dependable, low-cost and environmentally conscious.