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Some worry new smart power meters pose health danger

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Some are worried about Georgia Power's new smart power meters, which transmit usage information wirelessly. (June 13, 2011 / WRDW-TV)

News 12 at This Morning / Monday, June 13, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. --- Today Georgia Power starts to install smart meters on your homes. When we first brought you the story, some customers expressed concerns about how the meters affect your health. We received phone calls and complaints that the smart meters may cause cancer, fatigue and other health issues, but Georgia Power says if they weren't safe they wouldn't be installing them in your house.

The change from traditional meters to smart meters starts this week, but Georgia Power customers like Rebecca Schwortz are determined to not have them installed. She even put up a note telling workers not to make the swap. "Well the thing of it is, people don't know what they are," Schwortz said. "They just say they're going to put this thing on your house. They don't tell you what it is, they don't explain what it is."

Schwortz is afraid radio frequencies that are transmitted will make her sick. "I just want to know exactly what kind of exposure you're being exposed to," she said. "It's not about Georgia Power, it's that there so many things out there making people sick."

Georgia Power explains the radio frequencies will be transmitted four times a day for a total transmission time of one second per day. They also say cell phones transmit about 50 - 10,000 microwatts per square centimeter, which is how the power density is measured. In comparison smart meters transmit 1-10 microwatts per sq. c.m.

Phil Meeks with Georgia Power explained, "If you use computers, microwaves, cell phones, even baby monitors, they have a higher radio frequency than our meters do."

The FCC and the Public Service Commission have signed off on the company's plan to switch over all meters to smart meters. The meters have already been installed in states like California, where many opponents are trying to take a stand against them. Meeks said, "There is misinformation about our system. This is not what they have in California. I know a lot of information has come from the west coast."

Georgia Power says they have a different system in place that transmits at lower frequencies. The company also adds they will not be adding any options to opt out of having the smart meters installed. They say that goes against their cost-saving efforts.

We tried to contact doctors at several hospitals in our area; however, they did not want to comment on the issue at this point. Some doctors feel there are simply not enough studies and the technology hasn't been widely used yet.

Georgia Power encourages customers who still have concerns to visit their website to learn more about how the meter works.


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