Based on its Energy Overview, Michigan’s total energy consumption is relatively high, due in part to the State’s large population (8th in the nation), northern climate and industrial sector. Activities such as durable goods manufacturing by the automotive, glass, metal castings and chemical industries, as well as mining, pulp and paper manufacturing/production promotes robust energy usage. With an understanding of how energy affects the Michigan economy, the Michigan Public Service Commission began smart grid activities as early as 2007 (Case No. U-15278) before the phrase smart grid became en vogue. In fact, the forward-thinking Commission has a section on its website dedicated to providing smart grid information. It includes a helpful FAQ for customers that addresses such things as the safety of smart meters:
“Are the radio frequency (RF) communications used by the smart meters safe?
The scientific and medical evidence to date suggests that exposure to RF fields does not cause adverse health effects, provided that exposure is within the safety guidelines. The Unites States federal government and the international health community, including the World Health Organization, plus numerous independent studies have deemed low-level radio frequency to be completely safe. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) limits for radio transmitters of all types, including smart meters. These limits also include a prudent margin of safety. Even so, smart meters operate far below the limit.
The following reports provide additional information on radio frequency:
Radio-Frequency Exposure Levels from Smart Meters
No Health Threat from Smart Meters
Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health
Health Impacts of Radio Frequency from Smart Meters
Radio Frequency Safety”
Despite these efforts, the opposition to smart meters has spread from Marin County, CA to Michigan. On January 12, 2012 the MPSC issued an Order opening a docket in “hopes of increasing the Commission’s and public’s understanding of smart meters.” Given the importance of smart meters to energy efficiency, I am hoping this massive education effort does not conclude with opt-outs. A hybrid approach makes the deployment more expensive and could eventually be a bear to manage. Think five years from now when the opt-outs relocate. Eventually there could be meter changes as frequently as move-in/move-outs…and that would not be so smart.