Southern California Edison Rolls Out Smart Meters
By: Serena Scott Thomas
During the past week, Southern California Edison (SCE) began installing smart meters throughout Calabasas, Thousand Oaks, Hidden Hills and many other areas in Southern California. The new meters will replace meters that had to be read manually. Installation of these meters takes approximately 5-12 minutes and will be completed by Corix, a company hired by SCE. Home owners in the area have had the ability to opt out of these installations but only about 1% of residents have chosen to do this. This is most likely due to the $75 charge for the opt out along with the $10 monthly fee.
These meters have turned into a controversial topic for a few reasons. The first reason for the controversy is the belief that SCE is taking advantage of their position as a monopoly by charging the opt out fees. Local resident and People’s Initiative Director, Elizabeth Barris is one of the few leading the charge against SCE. ”Though [SCE] said opt out fees are to cover employee costs, Barris labels those charges an ‘abuse of power.’ ‘Edison is a monopoly and they’re abusing their public utility status,’ Barris said.”
On a different note, the meters have also caused controversy because they emit enough radio frequency to be harmful to one’s health. Although Edison has stated that the radio frequency is not enough to create health problems, others beg to differ. Even if owners choose not to install a smart meter in their home, the radio frequency is thought to be strong enough that a next store neighbor’s meter may affect health.
The change in technology allows SCE to track electricity usage in homes which has created privacy issues for homeowners. Barris is concerned that the company may use this data and pass it to third parties for their own use.
If you are interested in learning more about the controversy of smart meters visit the smart meters page of the People’s Initiative website at www.thepeoplesinitiative.org/index.php/smart-meter