Some FP&L users reject smart-meters in their homes
Apr 27, 2013 (Sun Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Not everyone is cheering Florida Power & Light's recently completed $800 million smart grid.
A tiny group of customers rejected new digital meters in their homes, citing an invasion of privacy or health risk. About 22,000 households -- far less than 1 percent of customers -- opted out of the digital meters in their homes and kept the old analog ones instead, said FPL spokeswoman Elaine Hinsdale.
Parkland resident Richard Hertzon, 70, nixed the electronic meter in his home. He doesn't want the utility to know when he is on his computer, what time he does his laundry or other personal information.
"I can't think of anything more intrusive than what they are doing," Hertzon said.
Hertzon wrote a letter to FPL denying consent for the smart-meter and hinted at a possible lawsuit for trespassing, unlawful monitoring and other charges. FPL now keeps an analog meter in his home that must be read by an employee and cannot be monitored in real-time remotely, he said.
A few customers also worry about health risks and emissions from the smart-meters.
But FPL said the wireless radio frequencies used are similar to those in a garage-door opener and hundreds of times less than emission limits set by the Federal Communications Commission.
"You'd have to stand right next to the smart-meter for more than a year to equal the radio-frequency exposure of a 15-minute cellphone call," FPL's Hinsdale said.
Florida's largest utility installed digital meters in 4.5 million homes and across power distribution points to better monitor energy flows, so it can detect and fix electricity problems faster. The smart-grid system should reduce operating costs partly by trimming employees who visit homes to read analog meters.
FPL said those customers who opt to keep the old meters will be asked to bear extra costs for reading and maintaining those devices. The Public Service Commission, which regulates the utility, is reviewing that issue and likely will decide the cost per customer later this year.
"If you have concerns about the smart-grid, just call," said Hinsdale. "Once we talk to our customers and explain how it will repair power outages faster and safer, they understand."
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