Flyers in Janesville oppose meter transmission

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011
— If you are one of the Janesville residents finding pamphlets on your porch opposing “smart” utility meters, be warned that your options are limited.

The black and white, four-page pamphlets are showing up under doormats and in mailboxes and newspaper boxes.

The pamphlets accuse utilities of using the new meters to monitor the way residents use energy.

That’s not possible, said Steve Schultz, spokesman for Alliant Energy.

The meters measure only the total amount of natural gas or electricity used in the home each month, he said.

Transmitters in the new meters improve the efficiency of data collection, Schultz said.

He was surprised to learn about the pamphlets being distributed in Janesville.

The pamphlets encourage residents to “just say NO to smart utility meters,” some of which use radio waves to transmit meter readings to utility companies. They replace the meters with dials that required utility employees to walk neighborhoods for readings.

The pamphlets also encourage residents to contact legislators and ask them to sponsor legislation to ban the meters. The pamphlets include form letters for people who want to opt out of smart meter installation.

For many local energy consumers, it’s too late for the latter. All Alliant Energy customers in Wisconsin have the meters. They were installed in Rock County in 2009, Schultz said.

The transition was smooth, and customers have not shared a large number of concerns, Schultz said.

“We say (the change was) positive because we haven’t had any negative feedback,” Schultz said.

Barb Uebelacker, spokeswoman for Rock Energy Cooperative, said Tuesday she wasn’t of the pamphlets being distributed.

Rock Energy Cooperative started installing remote energy meters 12 years ago, she said. In Wisconsin, where the cooperative sells electricity, the meters transmit data to the cooperative office via electrical wires rather than radio waves, Uebelacker said.

Meters in Illinois use radio waves to transmit data, she said.

Not every Rock Energy Cooperative customer has the remote energy meters, Uebelacker said. The utility replaces the old, manual readers when necessary, she said.

The only information the electronic meters transmit is total energy usage from each home for billing purposes, Uebelacker said. They do not record how the energy is used in the home.

“We really haven’t had any members express concerns,” Uebelacker said.

In Walworth County, We Energies uses meters that transmit data through radio waves, spokesman Rick White said. However, the meters do not transmit to a fixed site. Technicians drive through neighborhoods to collect data, White said.

The meters have been in place for about five years, he said.

The pamphlets encourage readers to contact the Wisconsin Coalition Against Smart Meters for more information.

The Gazette was unable to reach a representative of the Wisconsin Coalition to Ban Smart Meters. According to the pamphlet, the meters increase utility costs and are health hazards. The coalition considers the meters a way for utility companies and the government to invade customer privacy.

“Smart meters are just one small part of a larger scheme the government has in store for us,” the pamphlets read.

Last updated: 7:00 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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