Smart Meter Myths

by Sharan Raj

Recently, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)’s environmental bureau has been receiving a high amount of complaints regarding the installation of the 20m Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) monopole and TNB smart meters in affluent residential areas in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

PSM monitors national infrastructure policies to ensure it puts “people before profit”. We pay attention to policies regarding 5G, land-use policy airport expansion, TNB Smart Meter, Net Energy Metering (NEM), Papar dam, water tariff, etc.

There are widespread misconceptions regarding the TNB Smart Meter project that need to be debunked.

Myth 1: TNB Monopoles Cause Cancer

The installation of TNB radio frequency monopoles in residential area is intended to transmit home electricity usage data at a frequency of 5GHz. The 5GHz frequency was allocated by Malaysian Communication & Multimedia Commission (MCMC). Frequencies between 0.1GHz to 300GHz are collectively known as Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Field (RF-EMF).

There is strong misconception that low Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Field (RF-EMF) causes headaches, depression, anxiety and lethargy. The World Health Organization (WHO) has analyzed more than 25,000 publications before concluding that there is NO scientific evidence that RF-EMF causes adverse health effects.

MCMC refers to International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) standards to limit exposure electrical and magnetic fields from industrial applicant on Malaysian population. The 5GHz bandwidth has already been deployed for CCTV in highways and urban areas. Certain high-performance home Wi-Fi routers also use a 5GHz system.

Myth 2: The TNB Smart Meter Overcharges

Previously, TNB installed 2 kind of analogue meter; electromechanical meter and electronic meter. The average lifespan of electromechanical meter and electronic meter is 15 years and 10 years respectively. The current electronic meter was installed in 2004 is working above its intent lifespan. The reading provided by the electronic meter is extremely inaccurate. Smart meters provide a more accurate reading of electricity usage.

In short, TNB is not overcharging residents but residents are ‘underpaying’ before the installation of smart meter. However, a small number of smart meters may be faulty due to manufacturing defects. Manufacturing defects are perfectly normal and could be found in everything from Apple iPhones to Benz cars. Consumers should seek remeasurement at no cost from TNB if in doubt.

Myth 3: The Smart Meter Benefits TNB Only

The smart meter system will allow consumers view their real time electricity usage. Real time electricity usage data has successfully promoted efficient use of electricity in other countries reducing consumer electricity bill.

The smart meter allows TNB to execute an enhanced time of use (ETOU) system for resident. Under ETOU, consumer benefits from lower charges for using electricity during off-peak periods (night and weekends).

The Smart Meter is the first step to developing a smart-grid system for Malaysia. Peninsular Malaysia cannot increase renewable energy (RE) penetration above 30% without a smart grid. Smart grids allow Malaysia to avoid expensive fossil-fuel power stations and high coal import costs in the long run.

Disclosure:

I was previously associated to Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) through several of its subsidiaries prior to 2018. I was not involved directly or indirectly with the TNB Smart Meter Project. I have not gained any financial benefits lawfully and/or unlawfully from TNB’s Smart Meter project. Hence, I do not benefit directly in any way from TNB and/or its subsidiaries for writing this article.

Written by;

SHARAN RAJ

Central Committee

(Environmental Bureau)

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)

One Comment Add yours

  1. IT.Scheiss says:

    Sharan,

    Unfortunately, too many people are believing a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt with regards smartmeters and RF-EMF being spread by mis-informed people and right-wing libertarian conspiracy theorists on the Internet, especially in the U.S.

    One of the misconceptions over RF-EMF and smartmeters is that they cause cancer, when in fact, being non-ionising radiation (with low photonic energy), they only cause heating effects in human flesh they encounter, which is normally regulated to be well within safe power levels to humans.

    Ionising radiation begins at frequencies from high ultraviolet through Xrays and Gamma rays with photonic energy approaching to 100 electron volts, which are strong enough to strip electrons from atoms and molecules, thus leaving behind a positively charged ions which are chemically reactive.

    Now 5GHz is very low down the RF-EMF spectrum and if we are to be worried about that harming us, we should also discard our home and office WiFi routers (2.4GHz andn/or 5GHz), our notebook PCs which have a WiFi transmitter as well as receiver, our cellular phones (0.9GHz, 1.8GHz, 2.1GHz, 2.3GHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz), Bluetooth devices (2.4GHz) and microwave ovens (2.45GHz). Moreover the power density of microwave radiation in watts per square metre is inversely proportional to the square of the distance in metres from the source of the radiation, so at say 10 metres from the source the power density per square metre is directly proportional to one-hundreth the power radiated by the source.

    The irony of it all is that many people are concerned by the radiation from a cellular base station antenna nearby when they will gladly engage in long conversations with their cellphone held right up to their ear, oblivious to the fact that their cellphone also transmits as well as receives in order to enable two way conversation.

    Like

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