What are smart meters?
Smart meters are electronic devices that measure the quantity of electricity used by consumers and communicate this information to electricity suppliers. Smart meters typically measure electricity use at different times of the day and communicate the information using short bursts of radio waves, or radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy (EME).
How does the ACMA regulate EME for smart meters?
Smart meters used for communication must comply with the ACMA’s Radiocommunications (Electromagnetic Radiation – Human Exposure) Standard 2014 (the Human Exposure Standard). The Human Exposure Standard uses the EME exposure limits set by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) in the Radiation Protection Standard for Maximum Exposure Levels to Radiofrequency Fields – 3 kHz to 300 GHz (2002) (the ARPANSA standard).
How can we be confident that smart meters are operating within the safety limits?
The ACMA’s monitoring of industry compliance indicates emission levels from smart meters are typically very low (most operate at only a few percent of the exposure limits specified in the ARPANSA Standard).
In 2012, the ACMA conducted an audit program for smart meters. The result of the program was that all of the audited smart meter suppliers demonstrated compliance.
In 2014-15, the ACMA conducted an audit program for smart meter base stations, consisting of audits and visual site inspections. The ACMA found a high level of compliance and safety.
As smart meters and other EME emitting devices become more common, some people may be concerned about possible concurrent exposure to EME from multiple devices. ARPANSA has found that exposure to EME in the environment from various sources is very low and typically much lower than the allowable limits in the ARPANSA Standard.
Who is responsible for smart meter installation?
State and territory governments usually manage smart meter rollout programs. Utilities around Australia are replacing legacy-metering infrastructure with smart meters. These utilities are responsible for decisions about the operating characteristics of the smart meters and have an obligation to ensure they meet all regulatory requirements, including those related to EME.
Where can I go for more information?
- Different states and electricity suppliers have different policies on the use of smart meters. For state government smart meter programs, contact your relevant state government department:
- ARPANSA fact sheet