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.
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.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)