Locals oppose 'smart meters'
Mar 22, 2013 (Kerrville Daily Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A group of residents, citing possible health and fiscal issues, indicated opposition to a type of electric metering under consideration by the Kerrville Public Utility Board.
Last month, KPUB board members authorized staff to explore the pros and cons of various smart grid technologies and programs, which could include the installation of "smart meters" at homes and businesses. The meters could transmit real time information about individual power consumption to KPUB, allowing the utility to know when and where service outages occur before customers call. Additionally, such meters could allow the utility to more effectively monitor customer demand and system loads, potentially disconnect power remotely when needed and improve safety for utility employees.
However, some residents voiced concern over such meters at Thursday's KPUB board meeting. Edward A. Shuler and three members of local conservative groups indicated smart meters may not be the most efficient way to help deliver power to residents and may even be unhealthy.
"Smart meters are being pushed onto people without being fully tested as being human safe," Shuler said.
Shuler said the decline in honeybee populations observed nationwide could be at least partially attributed an increase in certain frequencies of electromagnetic emissions caused by various human technologies such as smart meters.
"There are reasons to believe something is going on," Shuler said.
Shuler and others indicated they oppose smart meters unless KPUB can prove installing the meters would be fiscally responsible and harmless to people.
Tracy McCuan, KPUB general manager, said the utility hasn't identified any specific smart meters for evaluation.
"We are just beginning to begin evaluating whether to install them at all," McCuan said.
McCuan indicated there is "lots of misinformation" about smart meters. He said factual information about smart meters is available from the Public Utility Commission of Texas, which claims smart meters emit less energy than common electronic devices such as microwave ovens and cordless phone base stations. The smart meters create brief, low-level radio frequency transmission signals that occur for one to two seconds, according to a PUCT fact sheet on smart meters. The fact sheet notes that the Federal Communications Commission has set limits on energy emissions from electronic devices to protect human health.
Public Utility Commission of Texas staff investigated scientific research papers spanning nearly 90 years to evaluate the safety of smart meters. According to a PUCT staff report released Dec. 17, 2012, "no definite or proven biological effects" from exposure to low-level RF signals have been confirmed
Senate Bill 241, filed this legislative session, would allow utility customers to opt out of having smart meters installed by paying a fee. States including California and Florida have similar opt-out statutes, and approximately 0.4 percent of the customers there have opted out, McCuan said.
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