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Oct 16, 2012 10:25 PM by David Ortiviz

Utilities may let customers opt out of smart meters

Colorado Springs Utilities may soon offer options for customers who don't want smart meters on their homes. This comes after one customer got so fed up he took out the new meter--worried it was affecting his health. Meanwhile, Colorado Springs Utilities maintains they're safe.

If you live in Colorado Springs like Craig Warren, chances are there's a smart meter on your home. "I wasn't even aware what a smart meter was," said Warren.

These newer electric meters keep track of how much power you're using, by sending radio frequencies to nearby towers. It eliminates the need for human meter readers saving money for the utility company.

Steve Berry with Colorado Springs Utilities says this technology, installed several years ago, is designed to help customers like Warren track his energy usage more efficiently. "And it's really to responsibly manage that grid and our resources," said Berry.

However, the devices have sparked controversy.

"After some initial research I decided these could possibly, potentially be dangerous health wise," said Warren.

It's not scientifically proven, but just search online and you'll find others like Warren who worry the radio signals are harmful for your health.

"Anywhere from every 45 seconds to every five minutes or so, so you're getting continually bathed in this radiation," said Warren.

Colorado Springs Utilities argues the devices are safe. "Compared to other technology that people use everyday whether it's their microwave oven or cell phone, there's really no risk we have found to the customer otherwise we wouldn't install it," said Berry.

Warren decided to take matters into his own hands. "I had an electrician buddy of mine help me. He helped me remove the smart meter," said Warren. He's now using an old analog meter.

Colorado Springs Utilities stands by its smart meters, but says customers may be able to opt out of the program starting in January. The opt out program must by approved by the utility's board and City Council. Customers would have to pay a one time fee of about $109 to have their smart meter replaced with an analog meter.

 

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