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Local Residents React to SMART Meters

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EUGENE, Ore. — The Eugene Water & Electric Board is moving forward with its plan to launch a pilot project using smart meters, but not everyone is thrilled about this wireless technology.

EWEB says the smart meters will allow them to remotely read consumption data. Those against it are speaking out about the opt-in project that was approved at a board meeting Tuesday.

Concerns about the smart meters vary. Some have taken to social media to let their opinions be heard. On KEZI’s Facebook page, many made the message simple–we don’t want them.

Comments range from worries about costs to health. EWEB says the technology in these meters isn’t anything extreme.

“I think a lot of the concerns about radio frequency are vastly overstated. We live in a society with cell phones and wireless everywhere. This is a one watt radio and we just don’t believe that there are health issues at all,” said Joe Harwood, EWEB Spokesman.

Harwood says because this is just a new technology, but at the end of the day it’s an old concept.

“Right now we have to send a meter reader to the site of their house or their backyard to read it. The good thing about this low-powered radio is it allows us to remotely read meters,” Harwood said.

He believes there are misconceptions now, but as more people choose to opt-in and voluntarily get the smart meters installed, the word of mouth will help its popularity.

“We do think that once some of the pilot projects have gone through and people are opting in, they’re going to tell their friends and neighbors. We think it’s going to spread. People are going to see the obvious benefits,” Harwood said.

harwood believes both consumers and EWEB will benefit from this now and in the future.

“The plan is to meet all future load growths through conservation. We don’t want to build new power plants. We don’t want to invest in new wind farms. We want to use the electricity we already generate more efficiently,” Harwood said.

Harwood says since it was approved by the board. He’s already received emails from volunteers to be part of the project, which he thinks is a good outlook for the meters.

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