Letters to the Editor

Last chance to say 'no' to smart meters

The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB), in case docket SPU-2018-0007, completed its hearings on smart meters with testimony on Dec. 5, 2018.

On that last day of the hearing, the parties opposing Alliant Energy’s smart meter program, Intervenors Kathy Matara and architect Jonathan Lipman, and their witnesses presented their concerns about the new smart and digital electric and gas meters.

The Intervenors are opposing the smart meter program due to their concerns about the health risks from the RF radiation emitted by the meters, and they have challenged the program on what they believe will be increased utility bills to Alliant customers. They also raise privacy issues, the ability to hack into the smart meters, and that the meters produce what is known as “dirty electricity” which has also been found to cause health problems.

The Intervenors are asking that they and all others have the right to choose analog meters, which the Intervenors consider to be safest since they produce zero radiation, zero dirty electricity, cannot be hacked, cause fires or invade privacy. Analog meters have been used in Iowa since before 1950. The Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA), which represents the public, has also weighed in and supports customers being able to keep their analog meters.

There are several other important issues in the case. Those who desire not to have smart meters have been told by Alliant they may have to pay $15 per month for each meter they have (electric and gas) if they don’t want a smart meter, and as proposed by Alliant, anyone moving to a new home or apartment in Iowa will not have the right to an analog meter.

In approximately 45-60 days the Iowa Utilities Board will render its decision regarding the public’s rights to keep or return to the analog meters, and what monthly tariff (if any) will have to be paid by those not wanting smart meters.

The public appears to have only until the Board’s ruling to opt out of the smart and digital meter program and be put on the “hold list” to keep their analog meter for both electric and gas. However, Alliant maintains that a person not wanting a smart meter had to have made that election and opted out prior to a smart meter being installed. And unfortunately, several hundred thousand smart meters have already been installed.

Those who don’t want a smart meter would be best served by sending a certified letter to Alliant stating their address and account number and telling Alliant they want to be placed on the “hold list,” and at least for now don’t want a smart meter. Then wait until the Board rules and sets a monthly charge (or eliminates any charges) to determine if you actually want to pay that charge to not have a smart meter, or accept the smart meter. Or they can call 1-800Alliant and ask the company to write into your file that you want to keep or return to your electromechanical analog meter, and then keep a careful record of the call and who you talked to.