Smart meter installation startingPublished 5:40pm Tuesday, July 10, 2012
These smart digital meters replace the existing analog meters that are already in place at many local homes. Georgia Power has already installed millions of the new meters across the state.
Joe Truhett, the area manager for Georgia Power, said the new meters have several advantages for customers. First, they allow Georgia Power the ability to read a customer’s meter without having to actually visit the property. This will result in a decrease in labor and transportation costs associated with conventional “meter readers,” Truhett said, and should therefore result in lower utility bills.
In addition, the meters are able to electronically sense when the power has gone out, and will quickly transmit that information to Georgia Power. That will result in less time to get a customer’s power back on, Truhett said.
“The intent of the whole project is to lower costs for our customers,” he said.
George Johnson is a local project manager who is assisting with the smart-meter conversion. He explained that the company has already sent out letters and pamphlets informing all customers of the upcoming conversion. In addition, Georgia Power will send a telephone call approximately one week before visiting a neighborhood to install the new meters, he said.
Truhett said that contracted employees with Metadigm will be visiting Decatur County neighborhoods in the coming weeks, so citizens should not be concerned if they see a number of Metadigm vehicles and employees in the area. Johnson said the Metadigm employees will first check to see if a customer is home, and if the customer requests for the installation to take place later, Georgia Power will listen to that request. In order to install the new meter, the home’s power must be temporarily interrupted.
If a customer is not at home, the new smart meter will be installed and a note will be left informing the customer of the change.
Truhett said if a citizen tells the Metadigm employee not to install the new smart meter, then Georgia Power will agree to that request. However, he explained that there is not currently an “opt-out” program in place.
“We will try to understand what the customer’s concerns are and discuss them with our customers,” he said. “However, eventually we’re going to get to the point where there are no more ‘meter readers’ with the company. It’s not fair to ask millions of customers to subsidize the cost of a meter reader to manually read only one or two meters.”
Truhett said he understands that some citizens have concerns about the smart meters, including worries that they may be a fire hazard or put out dangerous radiation waves. He noted that the meters only transmit radio waves for less than one second per day, with exposure below that of a cell phone.
Even so, national and state groups such as Stop Smart Meters Georgia (www.stopsmartmetersgeorgia.org) have led campaigns to combat the installations. Truhett said he understands citizens’ concerns, but there is nothing to worry about.
“There’s no privacy issues; you have my word on that,” he said. “There are no exposure issues from the radio signal.”
Truhett said any customers with questions or concerns about the smart meters are welcome to call him, at (229) 248-4401.