Quantifying Smart Meters RF EME Levels in Victorian homes
Total Radiation Solutions
In 2014 The Victorian Government commissioned a new technical study to quantify the Radio frequency Electromagnetic Energy (RF EME) levels from smart meters in Victorian homes. This study is now complete and shows that the exposure to RF EME from smart meters falls well within the national exposure limit.
Smart meters use radio communication technologies to communicate remotely using RF EME similar to those of mobile phones, Wi-Fi and other devices in the home and the community.
This field survey was one of the most comprehensive surveys of RF EME from smart meters ever undertaken and includes all types of meters in use in Victorian homes, homes of different construction and different meter box materials. The Department commissioned an independent accredited organisation, Total Radiation Solutions to carry out the study.
The field survey found that the range of maximum RF EME under normal operating conditions from smart meters inside homes fell well within the national exposure limit, and was 0.0000001 % to 0.009 % (or 1/1,000,000,000 to 1/11,100) of the national RF EME average exposure limit.
The survey also found that the contribution from smart meters was low in comparison to other RF EME sources that Victorians are exposed to in their normal everyday lives such as FM radio stations, Wi-Fi, TV signals and mobile phone base stations.
Regulation of RF EME from any emitting device is undertaken by two Commonwealth bodies, Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). ARPANSA sets the RF EME human exposure limits to protect the health of the Australian community and the communications regulator, ACMA, requires smart meters and other emitting devices to comply with the public exposure limits specified by ARPANSA.
A previous study was carried out in 2011 to measure the RF EME from smart meters which also showed that exposures were well within the national exposure standard, the current study is more comprehensive than the 2011 study and supersedes it.
Advanced Metering Infrastructure Customer Impact Study
Deloitte performed a preliminary study into the potential impacts of new pricing arrangements - what's known as 'flexible' pricing or 'time-of-use'.
The study revealed that many Victorians stand to benefit from these new pricing structures; in particular showing that vulnerable groups (eg. single parent families and the elderly) have almost the same potential to benefit as the average electricity customer.
The study found that with the introduction of new flexible rates, electricity costs across a number of customer groups (including vulnerable groups and small businesses) will change.
Through Deloitte's modelling it is estimated that the average change to consumer bills will range from a reduction of 4% to an increase of 2% - assuming customers do not change their pattern of energy consumption. It also found that if customers changed their energy consumption in response to flexible pricing, all customer groups could benefit.
The study also found:
- Reductions in off-peak rates are expected to benefit regional households as they tend to have relatively heavy overnight consumption;
- People requiring disability assistance will generally benefit through new pricing arrangements; and,
- Regional household and health care card holders are better off under most pricing scenarios.
The study found that the largest customer impact will occur between single and dual element customers - with all single element customer groups found to benefit if they can shift some load.
However the study notes that specific customer impacts will depend on a number of variables, including:
- The structure and level of tariffs that are applied;
- Existing tariff levels;
- Whether customers currently have a single or dual element meter;
- The customer's own usage profile; and,
- Whether and how customers alter their energy consumption in response to price change.
Retailers are also likely to be able to adjust the tariff structure (e.g. relative level of fixed, peak, off-peak, and the time periods to which they apply) to increase or decrease the impact of new pricing structures on particular customer groups.
Read the study:
- Advanced Metering Infrastructure Customer Impact Study - Volume 1
- Advanced Metering infrastructure Customer Impact Study - Volume 1: (PDF, 3.9 MB)
- Advanced Metering Infrastructure Customer Impact Study - Volume 2
- Advanced Metering Infrastructure Customer Impact Study - Volume 2 (PDF, 5.1 MB)
Deloitte Flexible Pricing Customer Impact Study - Stage 2
This report is the final report of the AMI Customer Impacts Study carried out by Deloitte. The study includes a comprehensive analysis of billing data, results from a quantitative survey and focus groups, case studies, conclusions and policy recommendations.
Stage 2 of the study confirmed the findings of stage 1 and provided further detail on the distributional bill impacts on customer groups. It also assessed the impact of flexible tariffs on consumers groups similar to the tariffs likely to be implemented by electricity retailers.
Stage 2 also refined the findings of stage 1 on bill impacts and found that the average impacts on bills across customer groups for the scenarios studied would range between a reduction of 6.1% (assuming a response to the price signals) and an increase of 1.8% across customer groups (assuming no response to the price signals). The study also found that, for a small number of customers, there was the potential for a significant increase in bills. This finding supports the decision to make flexible pricing optional with customers having the right to stay on their existing plans if that makes most sense for them.
Read the study:
- Advanced Metering Infrastructure Customer Impact Study - Stage 2
- Advanced Metering Infrastructure Customer Impact Study - Stage 2 (PDF, 4.8 MB)
AMI Meter Electromagnetic Field Survey
Assessing the safety of Smart Meters was paramount for the Victorian Government when deciding whether or not to continue with the Smart Meter rollout.
Smart Meters (also known as Advanced Metering Infrastructure) use wireless technology; this technology generates radiofrequency emissions, also known as electromagnetic energy, when communicating information.
Use of this technology in Australia is governed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Exposure limits to electromagnetic energy (EME) are determined by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). The specific exposure limits are defined in ARPANSA Radiation Protection Standard 3 (RPS3).
As part of the review of the Smart Meter program, the Government commissioned EMC Technologies, an independent and accredited safety testing organisation, to determine if the electromagnetic energy from the Smart Meters meet the exposure limits for the general public as specified by ARPANSA RPS3.
Both types of electromagnetic exposures produced from Smart Meters were tested. This included electromagnetic fields generated by the electrical wiring, and radiofrequency fields related to the built-in two-way communications
EMC Technologies was commissioned to conduct the study independently of energy providers and Government. The methodology involved testing a number of Smart Meters (both single and grouped) in various types of homes. ARPANSA RPS3 specifically limits human exposure to radiofrequency fields in the range 3 kHz to 300 GHz, for average exposure in six minute intervals. As Smart Meter communications are of much shorter duration than six minutes, a formula was adopted to test the worst case 'duty cycle' or scenario. This formula was independently evaluated and confirmed as scientifically valid by the respected Professor Andrew Wood of the Brain and Psychological Sciences Research Centre at Swinburne University of Technology. Professor Wood's report is annexed to the EMC Technologies study.
EMC Technologies categorically found exposure levels from Smart Meters to be well below ARPANSA RPS3. Their report concludes, 'the test results showed that the maximum RF EMF Power Density levels were well below the ARPANSA General Public limit, even when the meter was forced to transmit continuously (100% duty cycle)'.
Professor Wood was commissioned to review the report and his conclusion was: 'I would thus have high confidence in stating that AMI meters comply with Australian standards in locations normally accessed by the general public even under worst case operating scenarios'.
The Victorian Government will act to ensure that Smart Meter program continues to adhere to ARPANSA RPS3.
Read the report:
- AMI Meter Electromagnetic Field Survey report
- AMI Meter Electromagnetic Field Survey report (PDF, 4.4 MB)
Privacy Impact Assessment Report
An independent investigation into privacy issues around Smart Meters, conducted by Lockstep Consulting, uncovered no unauthorised disclosures from the collection of personal information associated with the implementation of the Smart Meter program.
The report found that:
- Privacy controls are strong and metering data is suitably protected.
- The security of Smart Meters is well designed ¨C all wireless links are encrypted and that this cannot be disabled, and there are strong security governance practices to prevent access to metering data by third parties without consumer consent.
Read the report:
Advanced Metering Infrastructure Cost Benefit Analysis
An analysis of the costs and benefits of the Smart Meter Program; the assessment also involves identifying ways to enhance the benefits of Smart Meters for all Victorian consumers.
Over 2008-2028, the Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI), or Smart Meter, Program will result in net costs to customers of $319 million (NPV at 2008 $2011). A large proportion of the costs will be incurred by electricity distributors by the end of 2011, yet most benefits of the Smart Meter program are yet to be realised.
The analysis found that, given the progress of the rollout, continuing the AMI Program from 2012 results in net benefits of $713 million.
Read the report:
- Advanced Metering Infrastructure Cost Benefit Analysis report
- Advanced Metering Infrastructure Cost Benefit Analysis report (PDF, 3.3 MB)
Auditor General Report