Consumer Resources

Smart Meter Consumer Information

Bear Valley Electric Service (BVES) is looking to improve customer service through the use of Smart Meter technology and the installation of Itron Open-Way Bridge Meters. Smart Meters are a clean, efficient, reliable and safe method of monitoring energy use data for customers.

Digital meters replace traditional analog meters with an automated process that can reduce costs for utilities and customers. Did you know each of California's major electric utilities has deployed Smart Meter Infrastructure?

Benefits of Smart Meters:

  • Faster detection and restoration of power
  • Increased grid reliability
  • Lessens the need for utility access to property
  • Two-way communication

Facts about Radio Frequency Energy:

Smart Meters communicate using low-power radio frequency (RF) energy, which is similar or weaker in strength to how cell phones, wireless routers, wireless baby monitors and cordless phones work. Cell phones and microwave ovens are leading sources of radio frequency power encountered by the public. Our meters emit only a fraction of the power limits identified in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines for safe RF exposure. The FCC developed these science-based safety guidelines in consultation with scientists, health and engineering experts and organizations like the National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American National Standards Institute.

To learn more about the latest research on Smart Meter radio frequency waves, click here.

Signal Strength:

RF energy is another term for electromagnetic fields, radio waves or wireless signals. A person’s exposure to RF signals depends on three factors: signal strength, distance from the device, and transmission frequency. The Itron Open-Way Bridge Meter transmits a very short “duty cycle” or transmission time (typically just a minute per day total). This already low signal diminishes greatly by distance. For example, when standing three feet from the meter, the strength is 20 times less compared to eight inches away.  As you can see, the RF exposure from a Smart Meter falls off sharply only a small distance from the meter and meters are typically a considerable distance from people.  The RF field density behind a transmitting Itron Meter is only 3 percent of the field density of that found in front of the meter. Typically, there are a variety of materials separating the transmitter in the meter from the space situated behind the meter on the other side of the wall or adjacent room. 

According to the FCC, radio signals may be harmful when humans are exposed to very high levels of RF energy. High levels of RF energy are only found very close to antennas transmitting hundreds of thousands of watts, such as television and FM radio stations and radar antenna stations.

Security:

BVES will not share your personal information gathered from the Smart Meters and follows all security protocols to assure the highest level of security and privacy.

Our Opt-Out Program

BVES respects every customer's right to choose whether they utilize Smart Meter technology. BVES is in the process of developing a Smart Meter opt-out program, which would allow customers to continue utilizing a non-radio read meter. Customers who already have a Smart Meter may still opt-out and BVES will install a non-radio meter.

BVES has applied to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for authority to establish fees associated with the opt-out program. If approved, the fees will include an initial set-up fee of $75 and a recurring monthly charge of $10 to opt out of the Smart Meter program. If you participate in the income-qualified program, California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE), the initial set-up fee is $10 and the recurring monthly charge is $5. These associated opt-out fees will be added to your monthly bill for three years from the date the customer elects to opt-out. Fees and program options are subject to change by the CPUC.