Utility regulators dismiss complaint over electric meters

AP

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SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) State utility regulators have dismissed a complaint from a northern Idaho woman who claimed smart electric meters produce toxic emissions and can be used for surveillance.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission found insufficient evidence last week to support the petition filed by Mary Baenen in October, the Bonner County Daily Bee reported .

Baenen filed an urgent petition, wanting the commission to allow state residents to use analog meters. The Bonner County woman claimed the meters currently in use from Avista Corp. emit cancer-causing electromagnetic radiation.

She also claimed that the meters can be used to obtain confidential information on houses, and the company's sale to a Canadian company puts that information at risk.

"Putting public information in the hands of a foreign country and risking national security by selling to a foreign country is obviously not consistent with public interest," Baenen said in the petition.

The commission issued a summons in November directing the company to address the concerns in the petition.

The digital meter outside Baenen's residence is equipped with a low-power radio transmitter that only sends meter readings, the company said. The meter transmits the readings once every 15 minutes. Each transmission lasts less than a second, equaling less than a minute per day.

The electronic emissions are similar to those from cordless phones, baby monitors and wireless routers, said David Meyer, a vice president for Avista.

"However, the radio frequency power level of the meter transmitter, and the new generation of smart meters, which are placed outside the home, is significantly lower than those associated with many of those household items listed above," Meyer said in the company's response.

The commission declared the meters to be safe and compliant with state law.

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Information from: Bonner County (Idaho) Daily Bee, http://www.bonnercountydailybee.com

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