About 250 consumers in the US have reported that smart meters cause interference with internet routers and other electronics.
The Office of the Public Advocate, a state-authorised advocacy group for utility customers in Maine, reported last week that Central Maine Power customers have contacted the group about interference within their homes from smart meters. The utility has installed about 440,000 two-way meters that automatically report power outages and allow the utility to read meters remotely.
The smart meters use the unlicensed 2.4GHz frequency band. So if a Wi-Fi router or other device, such as a garage door opener, overlaps on the same channel, there can be some interference, according to Central Maine Power. The problem can be addressed by moving devices away from the smart meter or changing the channel that electronics use, the utility says in its smart meter FAQ.
The Office of the Public Advocate complained that Central Maine Power isn’t providing enough information to consumers about potential problems. “While CMP’s website does refer to the issue, we don’t think it goes far enough,” ratepayer advocate Richard Davies said in a statement.
A representative from Central Maine Power said the utility is aware of the problem and has set up a unit to handle complaints. Usually problems can be fixed over the phone, the representative told the Portland Press Herald.
California utility Pacific Gas & Electric has seen a backlash against smart meters over worries related to health effects from the radio transmissions of smart meters. A test done by the utility research group Electricity Power Research Institute (EPRI) found that radio frequency emissions from smart meter communications are far lower than from Wi-Fi and mobile phones.
But PG&E has not found many cases of Wi-Fi and electronics interference from the millions of smart meters that have been installed and notes that any interference is brief since smart meters communicate for less than a minute a day in bursts of a few seconds, according to the utility.
Smart meters are being installed locally in New South Wales as part of the $100 million Smart Grid, Smart City trial project.
The project, run by a consortium led by Energy Australia, is rolling-out 50,000 smart meters across five sites in Sydney and the Hunter region, and will give 2000 households the ability to switch appliances on and off via a web portal or by using an iPhone.
The network will also tout approximately 12,000 sensors to monitor the power grid in real time.
Unlike the US, however, the Smart Grid, Smart City smart meters will operate on a 4G backbone for transmission of data back to the central hub.
Where as in Victoria according to Powercor: The smart metering system makes use of low power radiofrequency (RF) transmitters to communicate meter readings. Weak RF fields in the 900MHz and 2.4 GHz bands are produced during the system’s normal operation. http://www.powercor.com.au/Smart_Meters/Meter_Functions/