Smart Meters

History and information on Smart Meters

As you may know, in 2005, the federal government passed legislation that required states to consider the adoption of advanced metering infrastructure (Energy Policy Act of 2005). That same year, the Texas Legislature adopted law that encouraged the deployment of new advanced metering technology. The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) then established standards for the features and deployment of the smart meters (PUC Substantive Rules 25.130).

The state-of-the-art technology behind the Advanced Metering System will help provide Texans with a host of new and future benefits.

Currently, the electromechanical meter runs on gears that register the flow of electricity into a premise. The smart meter is different in that the information is delivered to the utility in 15 minute intervals without the need of a meter reader. Although some meter readers may be redirected to other functions within a utility company, if a smart meter issue arose, the utility will send a technician to physically inspect the meter.

Customers will notice quicker recovery after an outage with the new smart meters. The smart meter provides more reliability through the signals it automatically sends to the utility company. Without this new meter, the utility company has to wait for customers to call and report an outage. With smart meters, the utility company will immediately know of a problem.

Customers will be able to view and analyze electricity consumption in 15-minute intervals through the Smart Meter Texas web portal. Currently, customers with old meters receive a monthly bill with their usage (one monthly meter read) at the end of their meter reading cycle. The smart meter provides customers more detail, gives customers electricity usage information sooner, allowing customers to monitor usage and manage costs.

The smart meter allows retail electric providers (REPs) to access a customer's usage information to support better products for customers to choose from such as time-of-day pricing, and over time, switching electric providers will be easier and faster with the smart meter.

The emergence of the smart grid has brought about questions regarding the safety of smart meters and he radio frequencies (RF) they emit.

RF energy is all around us. People are exposed to low levels of radio frequency fields (RF) including natural RFs from both the earth and the human body and man-made RFs from cell phones and other common electronic devices on a daily basis.

Smart meters communicate electricity usage information to your Retail Electric Provider (REP) and the Transmission and Distribution Utility (TDU) through brief radio frequency signals. These transmissions happen for less than one minute each day. Many everyday devices produce far stronger RF fields, including cordless phones and microwaves, which are typically positioned close to the user for much longer periods of times.

To ensure that these devices can be used safely, many national and international organizations have developed exposure limits based on RF research. Safety standards have also been developed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Since 1996, the FCC has required all wireless communications devices sold in the US meet minimum guidelines for safe human exposure to RF energy. In typical applications, the RF signals from smart meters are tens of hundreds of times below the suggested levels as specified in the FCC regulations and in standards considered safe for everyday exposure.

To learn more about radio technology and safety, visit the FCC website for radio frequency safety.


Cell phone next to your head - 0.19**

Cordless phone next to your head - 0.12** Microwave Oven - 0.0047** Wifi Signal - 0.0010** TV, Radio and Cell Towers - 0.00015** Natural RF from the Human Body - 0.0003** Natural RF from Earth - 0.00013** Smart meter at 1 yard away outside - 0.000015**

** Measured in milliwatts per square centimeter (mW/cm2)

Customer Facts from the PUC (PDF)

Smart Meter Report Released