Smart Meters: The city’s perspective by Phil Lusk

The City of Port Angeles is in the business of providing a variety of utility services at cost to its customers, including electricity and water.  Because of this, the City meters customer’s electricity and water consumption and then bills them every month.  An electric meter is just a device used to measure the amount of electric energy consumed by a residence, business, or an electrically powered device such as a street light. Similarly, a water meter measures the amount of water consumed.  

AMI stands for Advanced Metering Infrastructure.  It’s a secure wireless and fiber optic-based system, similar to wireless Internet and cable TV technologies, for measuring the consumption of both water and electricity.  

We’re installing a new AMI system because the City’s old electric and water meters are wearing out.  More than two-thirds of existing meters within the City are well past their expected service life, and too many of them are no longer measure accurately.  As a result, it is not possible for the City to fully comply with state and federal mandates, such as water metering accuracy.  It’s also a fairness issue: with inaccurate metering, some customers may not be paying for all of the power and water they use.  

Weighing all available options, the City determined in 2010 that transition to an AMI system is the most sensible course for our community in the short-term and in the long run.  The new AMI system is financially sound, future friendly, and fair.

We started installing the new meters and the rest of the AMI system in 2011.  The work continues, although the pace is slower than expected.  To diagnose and resolve technology and other issues causing delays, the Department of Public Works and Utilities hired an outside contractor with significant AMI expertise.  Updates on the findings and any changes or revisions to the project schedule will be provided early in 2014.

What will change—and what will stay the same

You will still receive a monthly bill from the City for your water and electricity usage and you can pay the same way you always have.  However, you won’t have meter readers coming into your yard, and if there is a power outage or leak in the water system, we will know about it sooner and can take quick steps to fix it.  You will also have more information about your rates and usage, so you can choose to shut off or turn down appliances during the time that electricity costs the most, or discover water leaks around your home more quickly.

The benefits for residents and the community

Electricity is becoming more expensive.  In 2011 and 2013, the City’s electricity provider, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), increased the wholesale electricity rates they charge the City.  With the AMI system, customers will be able to manage and possibly decrease their utility bills by using power when it’s cheapest.  Because the new meters are highly accurate, customers can be sure that they are being charged fairly for both their water and electricity.  Residents will also have access to more information about the electric rates they pay (electricity is more expensive during “peak demand periods” when many people and businesses are using a lot of electricity at the same time).

The AMI system will enhance the City’s ability to run your electric and water utilities efficiently and at the lowest cost possible.  There will be lower meter reading costs, and the City will have more information to help with managing electricity use during periods when there’s more demand, and responding to customer inquiries.  The AMI system will also help the City’s ability to comply with federal and state mandates.

Facts and studies about AMI

While the benefits provided by the AMI system are many, it has come to our attention that there is some mis-information circulating about these smart meters, particularly in three areas: personal privacy, data privacy and safety. Because the City is committed to basing its decisions on facts, we offer the following clarifying information about AMI.

Myth: The City can use the AMI system to spy on you.

Fact: No. Both old (analog) and new (AMI) meters provide information about customers’ electricity usage to the city for billing purposes. The AMI meters are more accurate, and send the information digitally, versus manually by a meter reader, saving the City and the rate payers money. The City adheres to Federal Trade Commission regulations about how we handle customer information and we are wise stewards of any information we receive. Specifically, we do not share any personal information with unauthorized users. Authorized use of the information is only by the City for billing, resource planning and energy conservation efforts.

Myth: The AMI meters are dangerous, due to radio frequency (RF) emissions.

Fact: No. In the scientific and research community, there is a broad consensus that the scientific studies to-date give no consistent or convincing evidence of a causal relationship between adverse health effects and RF exposure in the range of frequencies and power used by smart meters. The City’s smart meters meet all Federal Communications Commission (FCC) testing and certification standards, and will not interfere with the operation of existing electronics or medical devices.

In relative terms, the effective RF exposure from the City’s smart meter is dramatically less than that of a cellular or cordless telephone.  For most City customers, the RF exposure from a smart meter would be equivalent to using a cellular phone or cordless phone for less than 2 seconds per day when measured at 8 inches away from the meter’s transmitter. And, unlike their cellular or cordless telephone use, customers don’t normally spend that much time that close to their meters.

The City routinely measures RF energy associated with its wireless networks, including the new meters.  The City’s AMI system operates far below the FCC standards with RF levels consistently measured at 500,000 times lower than what the FCC allows.

What does this mean in terms of ensuring safety?

The City’s smart meter RF emissions are lower than the United States’, Canadian and Western Europe’s standards. The City’s smart meter RF emissions are also lower than the standards used by Russia, China, Italy and Eastern Europe. They are also lower than Switzerland’s established RF standard, which is even more cautious than those listed here.  

The City of Port Angeles is confident in the existing FCC regulations that conclude our citizens’ health is not at risk by typical and appropriate use of this technology.

Myth: The AMI meters can control appliances in our houses.

Fact: No, the meters themselves cannot turn on or off any electronic appliances—that capability requires additional equipment, such as equipment that is part of the City’s Voluntary Peak Power Project. Only volunteers are getting that equipment, and no customer will ever be required to use the additional equipment.

The bottom line:

We’re excited about the benefits that the AMI system will bring to our community in terms of providing customers additional tools to control their energy use and for the City to better manage costs. If you want more information about smart meters, please go to our website at

Your questions are always welcome at or please call me at 360-417-4703.

Philip D. Lusk
Deputy Director of Power & Telecommunications Systems
Department of Public Works and Utilities
City of Port Angeles
321 East Fifth Street
Port Angeles, WA  98362

Phil Lusk, Smart Meters are an invasion of ‘WE THE PEOPLES’ RIGHTS !   Ross Krumpe

Your information is directly opposed to what you said to a PA citizen, who related it to me. Plus, what you say here under safety issues regarding RF run directly counter to what is now well established science about the dangers of radiation, particularly the pulsing kind. What you’ve said, instead, are standard company lines so outdated the FCC recently requested public input, because they’re revisiting the topic. Murv and I had to sell and move from PA because the citywide mesh WiFi debilitated me. But here’s the kicker: at our new home, we had to hire a RF consultant to deal with dirty electricity my system was newly sensitive to. The consultant volunteered that electromagnetic radiation is CUMULATIVE. The consultant said that he and I (both of us pick up more electricity on our skins than other people do, and this was verified with a special meter he had) are not only canaries, we’re the future. If you care at all about what this technology is doing to people, and what it means for the future, including all the massive problems associated with lack of deep, healing sleep, which mesh WiFi and smart meters interfere with, DO something to stop this onslaught. You have it in your hands to be a huge force for good in protecting the citizens of Port Angeles. Get rid of smart meters and the WiFi system. There are other technologies already available. Plain, non-transistor digital meters work just fine, plus saves the meter reader’s job. For internet access, cable connections are best, but routers work, too, and are not only much less powerful than the citywide system, but can be unplugged at night, when the brain repairs itself during sleep. Please, Mr. Lusk, don’t be content with spouting scripts you’re handed. These issues are extremely serious, and can easily make the difference between health and well-being, and catastrophic dysfunction and illness.

Name: Helen and Murven Sears


When you scroll down in the above linked document to 1.1 Scope,  Lines 298-309  on Pages 3-4 you will find the following words. The words highlighted in red support the claim that smart meters allow data-mining of private information for the use of third parties.298 1.1. Scope299 AMI Security is simply defined as those means and measures concerned with securing an AMI300 system. For the purpose of this document, the definition of AMI is:301 The communications hardware and software and associated system and data302 management software that creates a network between advanced meters and utility303 business systems and which allows collection and distribution of information to304 customers and other parties such as competitive retail providers, in addition to305 providing it to the utility itself. AMI is further defined as: 1) The hardware and306 software residing in, on, or closest to the customer premise for which the utility or307 its legal proxies are primarily responsible for proper operation; and 2) The308 hardware and software owned and operated by the utility or its legal proxies309 which has as its primary purpose the facilitation of Advanced Metering. Please read the entire document in order to discover other violations the people of Port Angeles have raised against smart meters. My hope is that City Hall will agree and then take a stand against smart meters on behalf of our city. Thank you for reporting on what’s really happening in Port Angeles. Sincerely, Virginia Leinart

Mr. Lusk, were are your resources that back your claims on this article. Can you show me were you obtained the data that claims that electromagnetic radiation is not harmful? The FCC claims are from 1966 with the advancement of new technology and more documentation with the studies on the Electromagnetic Radiation Exposure on humans and the adverse reactions. The government as of today shows no new current studies on the exposure to RF radiation. The WHO will not have there studies until 2014.

Name: Judi Hangartner

Mr. Lusk: If you continue to raise the electic rates, how in is it possible to tell us we will be paying less? (Is this the new math?) I have also requested the base readings for the RF radiation that currently exist, before your install the Smart Meters, to confirm that you are within the quidelines. I have to report you have not done so. Please supply documents for all of you claims. Thank you.

Name: Edna Willadsen

Mr. Lusk: since the time when the Federal standards for EMF emissions were developed the environmental conditions of EMFs have changed and our knowledge of human biology and biochemistry have advanced considerably. At that time the concern was over acute exposure (that is short-term) to relatively powerful sources, whereas, today, we face chronic (that is long-term) exposure to relatively low-powered sources. At the time those standards were developed, the concern was over heating the cells; today, a major concern is electromagnetic waves can depolarize the cell membranes. It is only in the last few years that science has demonstrated the profound roles that the polarization of the membranes play in the functioning of the cells. There is also an emerging literature on the health effects of chronic exposure to low level radiation. In conclusion, we are now facing a new type of exposure and we are concerned about a different type of biological effect. The City needs to recognize that the old standards weren’t developed to protect the public from these new health risks.

Name: Robert N. Crittenden

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