Smart Meter Letter

A little more than a week ago I got a postcard from MLGW. Any communication with them is usually not good.

It read, “Your home soon will receive new utility meters from MLGW to improve customer service and provide you with more information about your electricity, gas and water use. These new smart meters have been adopted by MLGW and utilities across the country and around the world. Installation of the enhanced Electric Meter at your home will occur no earlier than 30 days following the postmark on this letter.” It went on to steer me to a website that would give me more details and videos of customers using them.

First, I can tell how my utility usage goes by looking at the bill. If I am using more than I can afford, I cut back. I don’t see why people need a meter to tell them that.

Yes, they have been adopted across the country and the world. In Germany, they ended up getting rid of them because they caused more trouble than they were worth. In Chattanooga, the initial cost of $250 million to install them exploded to a billion. Ask yourself what that money could do for our city.

The postcard concluded that if I wanted to decline this service I could dial a number. I did so immediately. As it turned out, the number they told me to press was incorrect. Hmm.

When I did connect with an MLGW person, she told me she would send out an opt out letter that day. I received it a few days later. It had a form to fill out, which I did.

Interestingly, the letter still pushed for my choosing a smart meter. If I declined, it listed 4 things that I could expect. It sounded ominous:

1. Near real time outage notification will not be available to me. MLGW will only be able to respond to a site outage once I have called MLGW’s outage hotline. The special features of smart meters, wherein an outage at my home can be detected and responded to almost immediately, will not be available to me.

2. The type and frequency of information available from smart meter(s) will not be made available to me, including daily and interval usage data, peak demand date, water leak detection and cost to date calculations.

3. I must provide access to all MLGW meters on my property for manual meter reading each month as my non communicating meter(s) cannot transmit information to MLGW in a manner that reduces estimated bills.

4. As a customer opting for non communicating meter(s), I will not have the benefit of a remote service turn on or reconnection; instead, MLGW field personnel will have to be dispatched to my property when needed. Depending on availability of personnel and equipment, this procedure may take up to two days as opposed to same day turnaround with smart meters.

Sounds stern and threatening, doesn’t it? After I sent in my opt out letter I got another, again urging me to go for the smart meters.

No thanks. Why is a utility company for the public thrusting this on us? We did not get to vote about it. The Council sneaked that in after the election and before the new session. Why do they feel it’s OK to spend such an amount of money? How can we ever recoup it, especially if energy – natural gas in particular – gets cheaper.

It’s hard to believe anyone has the citizen in mind with this.

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