One Man’s Smart Meter Saga

At the library Townhall meeting sponsored by Council Woman Janis Fulillove, a remarkable man got up to speak against smart meters. He introduced himself as Harrison Childs from Corinth, Mississippi. He had come up here on his own, without prompting from advocates because he felt so strongly that smart meters should not be installed in homes.

Childs reached this conclusion through his own experience and through his subsequent one man quest to find out the truth. One recent summer he was appalled to find that he had been charged $900 for electrical use in two empty rental properties he had. He asked for an explanation and was told that smart meters had been installed on the two homes and also on his own. In fact, 18,000 smart meters were put in place in Corinth without any citizen approval or even notice.

Childs asked his son, a computer software salesman out of D.C., to look into the matter. They found an article in the May 2010 issue of Forbes magazine that discussed how users in California found that whenever the heat hit the triple digits some meters give bad readings and their bills reflected it in excessive charges. They also found out that some smart meters are better than others.

An expert took a look at Childs’ meter and said “I have a better one in the truck.” Childs had had no idea that their were different kinds of meters. The electric employee showed him that his model was a 624 and gave him a 694, which he considered to be more accurate.

Then Childs began to track down the many companies that produce these meters and ask for explanations. A Duncan, Oklahoma, firm told him they were paid to install the 18,000 meters and that 6,000 of them were the inferior 624s. “What does that tell you?” he asked rhetorically. “That they put in 6,000 that were bad.”

He asked that his meter be tested. First he was charged $11, but told “I can’t check it for the signal.” Since that was the most important part of the meter, he asked Met Labs in Maryland. They told him the cost to check it would be $10,000. Childs declined.

He found out that even though the meters say they’re made in China, they are actually made in Indiana. When he contacted that company, they told him their sister company in Minnesota made the part and they were “not at liberty to discuss it.”

Flummoxed, Childs happened upon this video from the Discovery Channel. “I just happened to get up in the middle of the night, turned on the TV to the Discovery Channel and saw this.

“I saw that the board has a transmitter in it like the old transistor radios. I realized people had lied to me about how they get the signal. It’s not from the pole.”

Other examples made it clear to Childs that local governments and companies “are not straight with us. Things are done by boards behind closed doors without our knowing about it.”

Subsequent events have reinforced his belief.

“My neighbor put in wood heat instead of using his electricity. The power company showed up one day and came to check because they said his smart meter wasn’t working properly. Two months later they sent him a bill for $500. They lied to him about the meter being checked. They just wanted more money.”

Childs contacted one of his renters. He had asked that a 624 meter be put in (in Corinth there is no opt out as there never can be in any place because the utility companies end up disallowing it). They put it in. Then recently Childs went back to look and found that the good meter had been replaced by another model. “Nobody requested it,” he said. “Why did they do it? Because they want to have a reason to make more money.”

Childs did a little math on the 18,000 meters in Corinth. “It came down to $4,200 per meter for the utility company. The average income here is $29,000 a year.” Childs wonders how people there will be able to pay for the meters because the company will have to find some way to recoup their money.

“In Memphis they want $10 million for 60,000 new meters. If you only save $9 a month, where’s the savings?” he asks. “The smart meters just give them the ability to charge whatever they want. Regular meters are accurate for 75 years and the meter readers they say won’t be needed will be employed in other ways,” he believes.

“People are afraid to speak out against them,” Childs says of several friends he has talked to. “They are afraid for their jobs.”

“Our society is based on keeping people ignorant, in the dark and poor.”

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