NV Energy's smart meters to be investigated
By Cy Ryan (contact)
Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011 | 4:04 p.m.
§ Utilities Commission preps for investigation of smart meters (10-12-2011)
§ NV Energy plans switch to smart meters (10-9-2009)
After hearing several complaints about possible health hazards and invasion of privacy, the state Public Utilities Commission has opened an investigation into smart meters installed in more than 500,000 homes in Las Vegas.
Commissioner Rebecca Wagner said there was misinformation or a lack of information when the commission approved NV Energy's application to begin the project.
She said she wants to look into allowing customers to refuse the installation of the meters and the implications. And she says the investigation should address the health issues and the privacy and security fears.
This should be started now, she said, before "it unravels further."
Although the vote was unanimous, Commissioner David Noble said many of the concerns were addressed in a prior hearing and he did not want to duplicate what had been covered. He said he did not "want to open up a free-for-all" on this case.
Angel De Fazio, founder of NV Energy Stop Smart Meters, said the units transmit electromagnetic radiation and are harmful to people with physical impairments.
De Fazio told the PUC it had a duty "to protect the disabled." This is not a federal mandate, she said and homeowners should have the right to "opt out" in having a meter.
She also said the meters are a health hazard to dogs.
Mike Hazard told the commission a lot of people don't like the smart meters. A federal grant of $138 million helped finance the installation of the meters and he suggested that money could have been used to build a new power plant in Southern Nevada.
NV Energy and its sister Sierra Pacific Power Company hope to have all the customers hooked up by December 2012. Installation should start in December in Northern Nevada.
The units will allow the customer to view next-day energy use information and the time of day the power is used. NV Energy maintains studies show the smart meters are safe.
The radio frequency exposure signal goes out 48 times a day and is within the guidelines of the Federal Communications Commission. "By comparison, cellphones transmit constantly and at very close range," the utility said.
The only one at the Tuesday hearing who spoke in favor of the unit was a man named Todd who said, "I love it." He said he has been able to lower his power use during the day hours. "My problem is with (NV Energy) bringing truckloads of armed guards to read the meter," said the individual who did not sign in at the meeting in Las Vegas.
But several speakers opposed the meters and some said they would be willing to pay more if they could return to the prior system.
Anne Haley complained this should be a "freedom of choice" and NV Energy has been able to keep complaints from being publicized.