From near the dawn of electric power we had electromechanical utility meters  that had to be physically accessed and manually read. Those were replaced in the mid 1990s with Automated Meter Reading (AMR) meters. AMR meters wirelessly report our readings to the utility's radio van as it drives through our neighborhood to collect readings without the driver having to get out. [30a] Such meters are one of two types:
A "Wake-Up" meter reports its reading when prompted by a signal from the utility's passing vehicle. Such an arrangement is a form of RFID similar to how an EZ-Pass transponder responds when "interrogated" by an electronic reader at a tollgate, for instance. [30b] A "Bubble-Up" AMR meter transmits its current reading constantly around-the-clock regardless whether it was prompted or not.
What is a "smart" meter and why does it matter?
Not to be confused with parking meters, Smart Utility Meters report our electrical power usage wirelessly in real time back to National Grid on a 24/7 basis. Smart Meters, or Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters are a refinement on AMR. AMI meters communicate continuously with the utility through neighborhood collectors that consolidate and report readings wirelessly to substation collectors, etc. eventually reaching the company. Smart Meters communicate with neighborhood collectors over the 902-928 Mhz ISM band where a full 1 watt of transmitter power is allowed [30c] compared to the 100 milliwatt maximum power allowed for typical Part 15 devices like cordless phones and wireless microphones.[30d]
Itron® Smart Meter, Green St., Worcester
California water authorities use Smart Water Meters to tell them, in short order, if and when customers are wasting water and fine them for not meeting Governor Jerry
Brown's conservation reduction goal of 25% less use. Similarly Smart Electric Meters
enable power utilities to encourage conservation at peak usage times to reduce
unnecessary construction of additional, more expensive, or less efficient peak-time generators. If they know how much you are using, at what times, they can charge you a higher rate for any peak-time use.
Communication between your smart appliances, your smart meter and National Grid is done with a ZigBee Mesh Network.  ZigBee is a two-way wireless communication standard for everyday appliances to connect with one another AND from outside through your Smart Meter's Home Area Network (HAN). This lets you, using a Smart Phone, (or the utility) control nonessential appliances during peak usage times when you are not home.
By encouraging peak time conservation, the need for additional, unnecessary and more expensive generator capacity that uses more costly fuels is avoided. This is achieved by charging higher rates for peak-time usage.
WiMax antennas along Salisbury St., by "Lysander Spooner"*, a vigilant Worcesterite
In National Grid's Worcester Pilot, 15,000 "smart" meters wirelessly report their readings over ISM (902-924 Mhz) frequencies to communicate with other SMs and also to one of about 180 pole-mounted neighborhood WiMAX repeaters  that relay their
combined data over WiMAX channels (2.5-2.7 Ghz) to one of 14 substation collector towers[1a] that combine and send it all to National Grid's offices.
The 2 way network enables National Grid to remotely shed nonessential loads like
pool pumps and electric water heaters during peak usage events ... they can even shut off your power remotely. Communication with customers' smart appliances is done by the meter with Zigbee protocols  over 2.4 Ghz Wi-Fi Home Area Network (HAN) using
Ceva Energy's Entryway® apps. National Grid claims some of its 1000+ participants using their Smart Energy Solutions devices (smart thermostats, smart plugs, digital picture frames and smartphone apps) are saving 20% on their peak energy use. [33a]
This network of near-microwaves and microwaves adds greatly to our exposure to electromagnetic pollution affecting our health. The radio energy from Smart Meters is
"non-thermal" - not enough to cook you by vibrating and heating your water molecules as do the 100s of watts of 2450 Mhz (or 2.45 Ghz) frequency energy used in microwave
ovens. Also, the meters' data bursts are extremely brief, including only serial # and
current reading so that averaged over time, a smart meter's RF output is 100s or 1000s of times less than that from cordless phones for instance. But the instantaneous
intensity of these bursts is TEN TIMES STRONGER than that in FCC Part 15 wireless
devices like WiFi routers or cordless phones. Seemingly miniscule, non-thermal amounts of power can have biological effects on plant & animal tissues that are made up largely of water. Physiological and neurobehavioral effects on human subjects are well documented. See http://www.BioInitiative.org for more.
Collection of detailed usage data invades our privacy. Implementing features of Smart Grid / Smart Meters is said to improve interoperability of appliances by facilitating load management at critical peak-use times and automate and speed up reporting of and 'healing' around outages BUT vulnerability of the grid and of individual customers to cyber attacks are greatly elevated. Further our choice in the matter of whether we want to be on a flat rate or time-varying plan and whether we want to be micromanaged or inundated with radio frequency energy 24/7 is punitively foisted upon us by an unelected state agency (MassDPU).
A Worcester woman receiving a Smart Meter near Lake Quinsigamond & Route 20 saw her electric bill double. Costs have increased astronomically following
installation of these meters elsewhere  and not only in customers' bills: Former Attorney General Martha Coakley pegged the meters themselves plus their supporting infrastructure at $2973 per customer.  Overall the first 18 months of the Smart Energy Solutions pilot have demonstrated savings of $1.25 million or enough to power the Worcester Public Library. A return of less than 2% on what was supposed to be an investment of $45 million but which is billowing toward $60 million.
“Smart” meters are being touted as reducing energy use to help the environment yet NSTAR stated DPU's decision to mandate AMI (smart meters) would not be cost-effective.  National Grid told Rhode Island's Public Utilities Commission that there would be no average use reduction with the meters. [5a][5b]
The meters' safety is questionable. Many fires have been attributed directly to them throughout the world.  Also See Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ah3nNo89-NU While special “Smart” meters handle and collect power generation data from solar & wind installations they are not essential to facilitate integration of solar & wind farms
with the grid. The radiation emitted is harmful to plants, animals, and humans.
*Lysander Spooner (January 19, 1808 – May 14, 1887) was an American individualist anarchist, political philosopher, Deist, Unitarian abolitionist, supporter of the labor movement, legal theorist, and entrepreneur of the nineteenth century. He is also known for competing with the U.S. Post Office with his American Letter Mail Company, which was forced out of business by the United States federal government. ^These are higher than UHF-TV and just above standard cell phone channels and are considered 'near-microwave'.