SAN ANTONIO -

Despite protests that the radio frequency radiation emitted by Smart Meters used by utilities like CPS Energy is a health danger, a San Antonio scientist said the meters are safe.

For years, utilities used analog meters to measure electric usage.

Now, digital meters are being installed and, in some homes, the new Smart Meter is being used. The Smart Meter allows two-way communication between the utility and the meter.

"The future of meters is a Smart Meter," said CPS Energy Spokeswoman Lisa Lewis earlier this year.

But customers of other utilities told the Texas Public Utility Commission at a hearing that Smart Meters had harmed their health.

Mark Sumerlin told the PUC he falls asleep at work because the Smart Meter on his home disturbs his sleep.

"These Smart Meters threaten my family as well as everybody else in this room," Sumerlin said.

He said Smart Meters are dangerous and that the radio frequency -- or RF -- signal emitted has practically driven his family out of their home.

"I am strongly convinced that this meter is emitting radiation through my home to the point where me and my wife have vacated my bedroom," Sumerlin said.

Q. Coleman testified that there are many questions about Smart Meters that need to be answered.

"What part of these not-so-Smart Meters do we not understand anymore?" Coleman asked.

A recent BBC news story told about dozens of people flocking to Green Bank, W.V., because it is part of the U.S. Radio Quiet Zone, where wireless and RF waves are banned.

But many scientists scoff at the notion of Smart Meters emitting dangerous levels of radiation.

At the University of Texas Health Science Center, researchers have studied radio frequency for years.

Dr. Geoffrey Clarke said CPS Energy customers should not be concerned about digital or Smart Meters.

"I think radio frequency is generally good and useful," Clarke said.

Clarke said microwave ovens are much more dangerous in terms of RF and so are cell phones.

"If you're going to be scared of Smart Meters, then you better stay away from wireless networks and cell phones as well," Clarke said.

He said RF can heat tissue and that people with metal in their bodies may be more sensitive, but that many times, people feel harm when there is none.

"Never underestimate the power of the mind," Clarke said.

CPS Energy said more RF is emitted by cell phones and baby monitors than Smart Meters. The utility plans to install more of them later this year and early next year.

For a list of recent stories Brian Mylar has done, click here.