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Smart Meters Health & Safety

Health & Safety Effect FAQs

During the smart metering system’s normal operation, the low power transmitter located within the electric meter actively transmits for very brief periods, each individual transmission milliseconds long in duration.

In Halton Hills, we are using the Elster EnergyAxis product. In tests for a typical proximity, these meters will generate a power density of 0.0001 mW/cm2 for 1.5 seconds every 4 hours.

Significant efforts have been taken to ensure that smart meters will not only help households manage their electricity consumption, but that they are also safe and reliable. The Ontario government has established a regulation to outline the minimum standards for the smart meter system also referred to as the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). In this regulation, requirements have been included to ensure safety laws applicable to metering, safety and telecommunications are adhered to. As such, smart meters are well within the safety guidelines for exposure to radio frequencies (RF) established by Health Canada in Safety Code 6 (2009).

Smart meters operate at a low power, intermittently, and in the RF portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The endpoint transmitter in a Halton Hills Hydro smart meter operates at 900 – 928 MHz frequency and transmits at .25 Watts of power. A person’s actual RF exposure from the smart meter is a function of the signal strength which diminishes rapidly with distance, and with the amount of daily exposure. Smart meter exposures even at close range with continuous operation (an unrealistic condition due to power supply and signal processing limitations) yield tiny exposures and are compliant with Health Canada exposure guidelines.

Further, the maximum exposure levels of Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 are in line with international safety practice, ie. Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency (HPA), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States

For most people it is likely that smart meter RF exposure will be outweighed by other electronic devices in the household that operate with similar frequency and power levels. These include cell phones, computers, cordless phones, televisions, and wireless routers.

There are several other factors that affect comparisons 1) usage patterns; the smart meter’s infrequent signal transmission and 2) typical distance from the meter.

To find out more about Health Canada guidelines, visit the Health Canada website.

Time-of-Use FAQ

The province of Ontario is committed to creating a Conservation Culture. One of the ways it plans to do this is by installing smart meters on every home and small business in the province by the end of 2010. Smart meters are one way to help meet the energy needs for Ontario.

It’s estimated that over the next twenty years, Ontario will need to refurbish, rebuild, replace, or conserve 25,000 megawatts (MW) worth of generating capacity “” more than 80% of Ontario’s current electricity generating capacity “” at an estimated cost of $70 billion. Producing more electricity is only part of the answer. Conservation and demand management will help us make the best use of our existing electricity resources and slow our growth in demand. Smart meters together with time-of-use rates will help encourage us all to think about how and when we use electricity.

Smart meters allow for Time of Use (TOU) rates which vary based on time of day, day of the week and season.

Smart Meters together with Time of Use rates will help smooth peak energy demand. When everyone is using a lot of energy at the same time, this creates a period of peak demand. The price for energy is higher when the demand is higher. Also, energy used at times of peak demand often requires the use of more expensive types of generation which may also have a higher impact on the environment.

  • Try shifting some activities to off-peak periods; for example turning on the dishwasher before going to bed.
  • Turn you air conditioner up a degree or two during the on-peak periods.
  • Plug electronic items such as TV, video game consoles, computers into a power bar that you can turn off.
    • These items continue to use energy even when they are off.
    • This “phantom” load can account for up to 10% of the energy use in your home.

Visit the conservation pages on our website for more energy conservation tips.

If you have a contract with an energy retailer, you continue to pay the contract price, even with a smart meter. You can still see your actual hourly energy use through our website and compare these rates to your current contract price. When you contract expires, that may be a good time to review your options.

Yes. The Smart Meters that Halton Hills Hydro will be installing comply with all required technical and safety standards including those established by Health Canada’s Radiation Protection Bureau. These are the same standards that govern home cordless phone systems.

Smart Meters Health and Safety

When your meter is first installed, a meter reader may continue to visit your house until our smart metering system is fully operational. You may also have a meter reader continue to visit your house to read your water meter. Only your electricity meter is changing to a Smart Meter.

Yes. Ontario’s electricity distribution companies are required, by law, to ensure that the smart meters and communication networks that are put into place are equipped with security features to prevent unauthorized access. We must also comply with federal laws regarding the privacy, protection and disclosure of personal information.

There are 4 displays on the meter:

  • The first display looks like all “8’s”. This is a test display to ensure the screen is working.
  • The next display is the one you want. This display is your meter reading. The letters “kWh” display on the far right of the screen. Subtract the current reading from the previous reading (on your bill, or the last time you read your meter) to find out how much energy you have used between readings.
  • The third display shows “-kWh” on the far right. The value on this display should be all zeros. This display is there in case you were generating your own power (e.g. through solar panels or wind). See the Renewable Generation page on our website for more information on generation.
  • The 4th display is information for office use only. It helps our technicians trouble shoot the communications path your meter is taking to send information to the office.