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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 pilot projects related to Smart Grid technologies, including the installation of 1,200 electric smart meters at the homes of volunteers within Shelby County.  

Smart meters replace the electro-mechanical meter that utilities have used for decades and which manufacturers no longer produce.  All 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 electricity 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.)

More than 20 million smart meters have been installed in the U.S., with 65 million installations - or half of all U.S. homes - expected by 2015.  While smart meters are new to Shelby County, they are prevalent elsewhere in Tennessee and across the nation, including several utilities in the Northeast have used smart meters for more than a decade.  

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 through pilot programs, we continue to monitor industry trends and scientific research to ensure our services remain dependable, low-cost and environmentally conscious.