PG&E’s new more powerful Smart Meters

PG&E has posted information on its website about Meter-Connectors, a much more powerful multi-function Smart Meter

  • When did PG&E start using these 2 watt meters?
  • How much antenna gain is used?
  • How would someone know if they had one?
  • Do they look different?
  • What is the range of the pulses compared to standard Smart Meters?
  • How does the exposure level compare for these pulses?

Standard PG&E Smart Meter (Landis & Gyr and GE)
1 watt
Data sent to PG&E 6 times per day
Pulses are 2-20 milliseconds each.
Pulses per day: 14,000 – 190,000 pulses
Cumulative time of pulses per day: 62 seconds (mean average)

Meter-Connecter
1.25 – 2 watts
Data sent to PG&E 4 times per day.
Cumulative time of pulses per day: 5 minutes or less

This equals 5 times the cumulative time of a standard Smart Meter.

If pulses are the same length of 2-20 milliseconds:
Pulses per day = 150,000 – 1,500,000

Three issues with the Meter-Connecter:

  1. Higher wattage — greater power and farther transmissions
  2. More frequent pulses — 5 x a standard Smart Meter
  3. More detailed energy data extracted — “5 to 15 second increments”

Additional note: Landis & Gyr and GE standard Smart Meters are already 5 x the power of Itron Smart Meters.

From PG&E’s website: Customer Service, Smart Meter Facts:

What is a Meter-Connector and what does it do?

A Meter-Connector is a type of SmartMeter™ that has built-in cellular technology to enable meters to communicate usage data in areas with poor network coverage. The technology allows for two way communication, extending the smart grid network’s reach and providing a stronger connection (especially during storms). In some areas, network connectivity is low or there is interference preventing standard SmartMeters from consistently maintaining a connection with the network (i.e. foliage, trees, buildings, construction, terrain etc.). Meter-Connectors are able to send usage data for surrounding meters.

What is the difference between a Meter-Connector and a standard SmartMeter™?

A standard electric SmartMeter™ periodically transmits meter reads via a dedicated radio frequency (RF) network back to PG&E. Each SmartMeter™ for electric service is equipped with a network radio, which transmits meter data to an electric network access point. The system uses RF mesh technology, which allows meters and other sensing devices to securely route data via nearby meters and relay devices, creating a “mesh” of network coverage. The system supports two-way communication between the meter and PG&E.

A Meter-Connector is a type of SmartMeter™ that has built-in cellular technology. If a standard SmartMeter™ is unable to connect to PG&E’s dedicated radio frequency (RF), a Meter-Connector is installed to act as both a SmartMeter™ and a cellular electric network access point (so it can collect information from neighboring non-communicating meters). It is able to transmit meter data for itself and other nearby meters back to PG&E.

What is the amount of Radio Frequency emissions from this new type of cellular meter and how does it compare to a standard SmartMeter™?

The Meter-Connector either transmits 1.25 watts or 2 watts depending on the speed of the cellular network in your area, compared to a standard SmartMeter that transmits 1 watt. Meter Connectors transmit usage data back to PG&E approximately four times a day. Total transmission time will vary slightly, but will typically be 5 minutes or less per day. Standard SmartMeters communicate intermittently, with each RF-signal typically lasting from 2 to 20 milliseconds. These intermittent signals total, on average, 45 seconds per day. For more information, see the Understanding Radio Frequency page.

Is the Meter-Connector secure?

Protecting our customers’ energy usage information is a top priority. PG&E applies the same privacy protection standards to all data collected by the company from customers including the usage data collected by the SmartMeter™ system. We treat each customer’s personal information and data as confidential, consistent with all regulatory requirements, including those established by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

What is the benefit of having a Meter-Connector?

  • This technology allows us to become active energy participants where we all can benefit from more reliable power, reduced carbon footprint and cleaner energy development.
  • Login at pge.com to see your energy use by month, by day, by the hour.
  • Sign up at pge.com to get notified by email, text message or phone when your electric use is moving toward a higher-cost tier.
  • See your electricity use in 5 to 15 second increments on your HAN device.

Do I have the option to say no, I don’t want to have a new meter installed?

We support individual choice for residential customers when it comes to meter selection at your home. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) authorizes residential customers to opt-out for any reason, regardless of whether they have a SmartMeter™ or an analog meter in place. The CPUC did not approve a SmartMeter Opt-Out Program for commercial customer.

For additional information on the meter specs : https://smartmeterharm.org/2014/07/13/how-many-rf-pulses-per-day-from-a-smart-meter/

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