On Friday, I wrote about my concerns regarding MLGW’s smart meters. It’s a program not just here, but making its way across the country. The idea is that the government will put an energy meter in your house that will monitor your usage and advise you on how to alter it and trim your electric bill.
That’s the cover story, at least. Many Americans including me have concerns that it is a foot in the door; a way to get in your house, monitor your behavior and then force you to adjust it to their demands. Besides privacy concerns there are issues of safety. Some of the meters have caught fire and burned homes.
The Commercial Appeal ran a story last week about the smart meters and it was slanted to make it seem that customers were thrilled with it. The story was also written to make you feel that if you did not go along with this you were some kind of redneck, Bible thumpin’ dumbbell. That’s always how messages are presented, with an appeal to your ego or else it is framed as good because it’s “for the children.”
I am concerned that the 60,000 smart meters ordered by MLGW will be forced upon its customers. I emailed our Council member, Jim Strickland, with my concerns. He replied, “Thank you for your email. It is my understanding that, if someone does not want a smart meter, MLGW will not force it. We will confirm this.”
He had his secretary check and she wrote me, too, saying “Councilman, you are correct. MLGW does not force residents to accept the smart meter.”
Yet. That is my concern. So I emailed him again to ask his opinion on the whole matter. Strickland forwarded my concerns to Jerry Collins at MLGW. Collins sent this note: “Councilman Strickland is correct. We will not force someone to have a smart meter, but they would be wise to accept it if offered.”
I found his response troubling. “They would be wise to accept it” sounds ominous. It’s got a ring to it that reminds me of gangsters. What would happen if I’m not “wise?” Is this an offer I can’t refuse? Would I get a ripped off utility box in my bed? I don’t like the sound of it.
I’m not off base here. A woman in Illinois was arrested when she refused to let someone in to install a smart meter. Another woman in Ohio had a terrible story:
A certified letter from AEP executive Ralph Rocca, Jr. arrived at Brenda Hawk’s home announcing that she would be getting a new meter or her power would be cut off. Her efforts to contact Rocca were not successful. All that Hawk wanted was a guarantee from the company that the new meter’s electrical signals would not interfere with her pacemaker. The company could not give her that assurance and it was her position that unless and until they did, no “smart meter” would be installed.
Hawk asked the officer and the power company reps how they could turn off the power to a home in the winter when it directly violates an Ohio law preventing elderly and disabled people from being without heat during winter months. They asked to be shown the law. Hawk quoted Ohio’s public utility law Chapter 4933: COMPANIES – GAS; ELECTRIC; WATER; OTHERS.
Fortunately for her Republican Gov. John Kasich heard about it and intervened to get her power back on.
So I am not at all comforted by MLGW President and CEO Collins’ answer. I hope our legislature will address this to ensure our rights or privacy and property.