News Feature | February 23, 2016

Privacy Fears Spur Smart-Meter Opt-Out

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,
@sarmje

smart meters

Several states are moving to give consumers the choice to opt out of installing smart meters at home due to concerns raised by privacy activists.

“According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 15 states allow customers to opt out of smart meter installation, although many — among them Florida, where [customers are charged] a $13-1-month fee — permit utility companies to impose a fee on customers who don’t want the meters,” FlaglerLive reported.

“This year, lawmakers in Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas are expected to consider bills that would allow consumers to keep their existing analog meters; require customers to opt in to smart meter programs; or allow them to refuse the devices, sometimes at no cost,” the report said.

Smart grid advocates say that concerns about smart meters are misplaced. Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative is among these proponents.

Patty Durand, the group’s director, “said utility companies have had no data breaches, and though she expects they will eventually, she says consumers are at very little risk because the meters aren’t transmitting personal financial information such as credit card numbers,” according to the report.

Experts have a clear-cut perspective on smart meters: “To be blunt, many of the concerns and fears over smart meters are downright farcical,” Wall Street Daily reported, proceeding to debunk some far-fetched and inaccurate perceptions about smart meters.

One inaccurate perception among some smart meter opponents is that they make people sick.

“It’s entirely baseless. However, it’s not uncommon for such fears to accompany new technologies. Remember when cellphones were supposed to give you brain cancer? They didn’t — and they don’t,” Daily explained.

A second misconception is that smart meters could pose a threat to wildlife, according to the article. “Another claim that’s devoid of evidence,” the report said.

A final myth debunked: Some smart meter opponents believe the devices infringe on their civil liberties, but in fact, the opposite is true.

“Smart meters can actually increase your privacy. Under the old system, whenever a utility employee walks onto your property to take a reading, you can’t stop him. How’s that for an invasion of privacy? With smart meters, human readers become unnecessary and utilities won’t be on your property unless there’s a malfunction,” the report said.

For more of the latest news on automated metering, visit Water Online’s AMR, AMI And Metering Solutions Center.

Image credit: "'No-smart-meters-sign," amyohair © 2011, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/