MEDFORD, Ore. -- Pacific Power crews have begun installing smart meters at Jackson County residences. The company says it's an effort to help shorten outages, provide daily usage data and keep Oregon a leader in clean, renewable energy.
The meters report customer usage daily to the power company, so it no longer needs workers to read a homeowner's meter. It also means Pacific Power will receive an immediate alert when the power is out at a customer residence. About 88,000 meters will be installed in Jackson County between now and September. Josephine County residents will get new smart meters in the fall.
Some customers have expressed concern over the new smart meters saying they're worried about the health impacts of radio frequencies. Pacific Power has refuted those claims.
"So over half the homes in the United States have these meters installed already. There are over 70 million [nationwide]," said Pacific Power Business Manager Christina Kruger. "We're late system adopters. We kind of sat back and waited for the technology to evolve, made sure it's mature enough to make us feel safe about putting this in our customers' homes... We're really confident in the technology, that it's safe and that aren't any risks associated."
Pacific Power claims if a customer stands next to a meter for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, they will experience less radio frequency exposure than a 15 minute cell phone call.
Pacific Power customers can still opt out, but it comes with a high cost. That cost pays for the man hours to read your meter. Customers that don't use the smart meter will be charged a one-time $137 meter exchange fee and a $36 monthly meter reading fee. For one year, that’s more than $400. If a customer changes their mind within six months, Pacific Power will install a smart meter and refund the $137.
To opt out, contact Pacific Power customer service.