An Open Letter to Jim Strickland

Dear Mr. Strickland,
As City Council member for Midtown, you are receptive to your constituents’ requests and sensitive to our needs, especially when it comes to cutting taxes. We are appreciative of your efforts.

Tomorrow, a big vote comes before the Council. That is, whether you should approve $10.15 million for MLGW to start implementing their plan for 60,000 smart meters. Some on your own Council have indicated their disagreement with this plan and Ms. Fullilove has even experienced smart meters concluded that they are expensive and dangerous. Others have gone to mocking smart meter opponents, yet don’t provide any substantive reason why they are needed.

In previous correspondence you have indicated your support for smart meters. I am dismayed. I can only conclude that you have not thoroughly researched the issue or you would come to a different conclusion. When I first contacted you about your inclinations, you referred me to MLGW President Jerry Collins who then asked VP Chris Bieber to talk to me and “get my mind right.”

I gladly talked with Bieber, but he didn’t get my mind “right.” He went over my concerns for an hour. I went in with an open mind but came out with one closed to the idea of smart meters. You can reference this discussion by doing a search on this website. I think you will find it illuminating.

Putting aside all the discussion and so called hysteria proponents put on the dangers of fires and dangers to health (which I think are valid); putting aside the objections to the infringement on our personal liberties taken by a group that can watch us in our homes (which I also deem valid); putting aside the scary attempt at behavior modification (which is indisputable); focus, if you will, on another aspect: the money.

Does the city really have an extra $215 million floating around (the projected estimate for all customers) to give away on something that is already working? It seems to us taxpayers that we are being squeezed to pay for city services, schools and the looming pension problem and that these outweigh the need for a smart meter program. If you give the proposed $10.15 million, it will just be the beginning of a program the cost of which has at least doubled estimates wherever it has been tried. Some are putting the cost at a billion.

On the home front, consumers across the board have felt the pain of higher energy costs that smart meters inevitably bring. In Germany, a very “green” country, they had to drop it because it was too costly for everyone. Last week, we in Midtown experienced a power outage that happened without any kind of major storm or wind. How about putting money into fixing infrastructure or putting wires underground. That would be a worthwhile project.

In learning about this issue I have been struck by the unity it has brought to the black and white communities. We have worked together against this, as have labor and private enterprise. People from different parties and proclivities have also realized the importance of this issue and worked against it.

How you and the Council vote tomorrow will have long and serious consequences for the city, its residents and future Memphians. I urge you to vote against money for smart meters.

Georgeann King

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