Automated Electronic Meters (Radio Frequency Meters) Electric meters are used to measure the amount of electric energy consumed by a residence or business. Our electric utility records the energy consumed each month by an employee reading each individual meter to obtain the amount of energy used.
Since the late 1990’s, the City of Ashland electric Utility Department has been gradually replacing the old style mechanical electric meters to automated electronic meters. Newer meters send the electric consumption information automatically rather than requiring an employee to access, read and record the electric usage at each individual meter.
Progress in this transition has been discussed in open meetings with our City council and the budget Committee on multiple occasions in reference to managing the electric utility and cost savings approaches.
Q: Why does the City purchase Automated Electronic Meters? A:Due to changes in industry standards and for cost savings, efficiency reasons, the city will gradually replace older electric meters with Automated Electronic Meters. These meters send the energy consumption information via radio transmitter to city meter reader devices. This reduces the number of meters accessed, read and recorded, thereby saving time and money.
Q: What is a radio frequency (RF)? How is it measured? A:Electromagnetic fields, radio waves, microwaves and wireless signals are collectively referred to as radio frequency (RF) energy. RF energy is all around us. It’s used in various electronics and appliances, including radio and television broadcasting, cellular telephones, satellite communications, microwave ovens, radars, and industrial heaters and sealers. Electromagnetic waves are measured by wavelength and frequency. Wavelength is the distance covered by one complete cycle of the electromagnetic wave. Frequency is the number of electromagnetic waves in one second, also known as a hertz or HZ. One HZ equals one cycle per second. One megahertz (MHz) equals one million cycles per second. Generally, microwaves are radio frequencies measuring more than 1 GHZ. Q: How many of these meters are in use today? A:Currently, there are 11,591 electric meters in the City of Ashland. Approximately 5,017 of those meters are Automated Electronic Meters. The radio signal is sent and received by the meter reader at the curb.
Q: What are the Automated Electronic Meters the city is purchasing? A:The automated Electronic Meters are also referred to as a radio frequency meter. There ar many types of smart meters. The meter used by the City of Ashland are not smart meters but simply only transmit limited information (meter ID number, electric consumption, and indication of tampering).
Q: Is there a health hazard associated with radio frequency? A: According to several reputable organizations, including the World Health Organization and Utilities
Telecom Council, there is no demonstrated cause and effect relationship between Low levels of RF
exposure and adverse human health effects.
The World Health Organization (WHO) notes in its Fact Sheet 304: “To date, the only health effect from RF fields identified in scientific reviews has been related to an increase in body temperature. (>1 C) from exposure at very high field intensity found only in certain industrial facilities, such as RF heaters. The levels of RF exposure from base stations and wireless networks are so low that the temperature increases are insignificant and do not affect human health.”
Q: How is it regulated? Are there any safety limits on human exposure to wireless and RF fields? A: Since 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has required all wireless communications devices sold in the United States meet minimum guidelines for safe human exposure to radio frequency energy. The limits established in the guidelines are designed to protect the public health with a very large margin of safety. In addition, federal health and safety agencies including the EPA, FDA, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) consistently monitor and regulate RF Safety.
The FCC has established exposure guidelines for RF devices operating tin the 300 kilohertz (kHz)- 100 GHz range. These safety guidelines are outlined in the publication, OET Bulletin 65 Edition 97-01, Evaluating compliance with FCC guidelines for Human Exposure to Radio frequency Electromagnetic Fields. The general population exposure limits set by the FCC for the frequency range utilized by smart meters and other devices like cordless phones and baby monitors, in 0.6 milliwatts per centimeter squared) mW/cm2) at 902 MHz and 1.0 mW/cm2 at 2.4 GHZ.
When a smart meter is transmitting, the exposure to radio frequency energy at a distance of 20 centimeters (8 inches) from the meter is 0.06 mW/cm2 at 902 Mhz, or almost 10 times lower than the exposure limit set by the FCC, and 0.062 mW/cm2 at 2.4 GHz, or more than 16 times lower than the exposure limit set by the FCC. This calculation is for radio frequency energy radiated outward form the font of the meter. The power transmitted toward the rear of the meter is typically a further five- to ten times lower.
Q: What is a smart meter? A: Smart meters as devices that are like mini computers. They communicate back and forth with the utility to automatically transmit meter information, such as energy consumption, spikes in power usage, and power outage and restoration messages to support various applications beyond monthly billings. Smart metering solutions have substantially more features and functions than advanced metering systems and technology. Smart meters collect and store interval data, perform remote service connect/disconnect, send detailed information, receive commands, and interface with other devices, such as in-home displays, smart thermostats and appliances home area networks, advanced control systems, and more.
The meters used by Ashland comply with FCC standards. The FCC limits on maximum permissible exposure for application to the general public were set using safety factors fifty times lower than the levels of known effects.
Q: Can citizens Opt Out of having these types of meters at their residence? A:Yes, the City has developed and opt-out program with no additional costs to the citizens. If interested, please fill out the Opt Out Form.After completed, you may return the form via fax, email, direct mail, or drop the form off at any city office and they will forward the form to the Electric Department.
A Resolution Adopting An Opt Out Policy For The Automated Meter Reading Program was
adopted by The Council on May 15, 2012. Resolution No 2012-14 Q: If I have questions whom should I call? A:City of Ashland’s Electric Department at 541-488-5357.
Itron has information regarding radio frequency at their website: https://www.itron.com/na/resourcesAndSupport/Pages/RF-Resource-Center.aspx. The “FAQ” and “radio frequency resources” links on this page also provide additional information on this topic. The “radio frequency resources” link provides links to industry studies and regulatory reports regarding these meters.