'Smart meter' opt-out movement sparse in Augusta

Monday, March 26, 2012 12:54 PM
Last updated Wednesday, March 28, 2012 8:57 PM
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A move to allow Georgia Power customers to opt out of smart meters hasn’t stirred much interest in the Augusta area, where contractors installed 153,000 of the devices last year.

“Across the state, we have fewer than 200,000 left to install, and 2.4 million customers,” said company spokeswoman Konswello Munroe, adding that most of the fewer-than-200 opt-out requests have come from coastal regions.

The wireless devices, which eliminate the need for the traditional meter reader’s monthly visit, are deemed more efficient and reduce the need for vehicles and fuel. However, they have also generated what company officials say are unfounded fears of health effects and the potential for privacy issues.

“It’s a way for us to read your meter electronically – all we are interested in is how much electricity a home or business uses,” Munroe said. “It doesn’t control appliances and it doesn’t monitor you or when you are in your house.”

Earlier this month, the Georgia Senate passed a bill allowing customers to opt-out of smart meters – a measure opposed by Georgia Power. The proposal was sent to the House Energy and Telecommunications committee, where it remains tabled.

Georgia Power, meanwhile, continues its effort to install the remaining devices in other parts of the state. The Augusta region’s replacement work ended last October, but smart meters continue to be installed in the area for new construction.

When a complaint is made about the devices, or a request is made to remove one, the company sends a representative, Munroe said.

“We send a manager to talk to them and explain what the meters are and how they work,” she said.

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bdouglas 03/26/12 - 02:37 pm
Must be the sky is falling,

Must be the sky is falling, tinfoil hat crowd that has privacy and health concerns about these... Aiken Electric has been using these for a while. Not only are they much more accurate since no human is involved, they can also allow you to track your usage and make adjustments accordingly. I get an email every day showing me how much energy I used in the past day with a bar graph of the past two weeks of usage. It's really helpful for helping you budget for your future costs, too.

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