by W. Kenneth Lindhorst of Summit
State Sen. Raymond Lesniak proposes a mandate for so-called smart electric utility meters that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but will not be the panacea to storm recovery. A smart meter can tell if power is lost, but they do not tell the utility what happened. Upgrades at the substation level can give utilities valuable information at less cost to ratepayers.
What we really need is “smart infrastructure” not smart meters which would be primarily used for monitoring use, not outages. The meters would also give the electric companies a way to cut off service more easily–and to use pre-pay options that would shut off service when the pre-paid amount is used up. This is a power that could be abused at the expense of consumers.
AARP urges legislators not to support the smart meters proposal. They will not do much to improve storm recovery if utilities have not properly maintained the distribution system, managed trees in the rights of way, and developed effective systems to communicate with customers and local officials.
Legislators should not jump to expensive conclusions at the expense of consumers who already pay some of the highest utility rates in the nation.
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