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Archive for Thursday, December 22, 2011

Most smart meters expected to be installed by year’s end in Lawrence

December 22, 2011

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By the end of the year, nearly all of Westar Energy’s 39,000 Lawrence residential customers will have smart meters.

Since October, the electric utility has been installing the meters in homes throughout Lawrence. The meters are part of a $40 million SmartStar project, half of which is being covered by federal stimulus dollars.

“Overall, it’s gone very well. The Lawrence community has been great to work with. We have been getting an awful lot of positive feedback on the availability of information,” said Hal Jensen, Westar’s SmartStar director.

Of the 36,000 meters installed so far, 5,400 customers have accessed the online information that comes with the smart meters. Jensen expects that number to grow with 150 to 200 people logging online every day.

“Not everyone gets online the day after the meter is exchanged,” Jensen said. “We will do more in the form of customer communications.”

The online data has monthly billing information and breaks down energy usage in 15-minute increments. The data makes it easy to see which days have spikes in energy usage (mainly on the weekends and holidays) and at what time of day energy is used the most (typically between 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.).

Customers also can set up text and email alerts for when the bills are over a certain amount or when there are spikes in energy usage.

Once the residential meters are installed, Westar will begin working on meters for businesses. The electric utility also will continue to work with customers who have meters that are hard to access, such as those in yards with dogs or closed in by locked gates. In those instances, customers have to set up appointments for the meters to be switched.

Along with providing more information to customers, the smart meters will benefit Westar operations. The company will no longer have to send trucks to digitally read meters and it doesn’t have to be on site when an account transfers names. That will make a significant difference on Aug. 1, when many apartments in Lawrence switch tenants.

Next spring, Westar hopes to launch a voluntary program that will allow customers to be billed at different rates based on peak demand. For instance, energy would be at its most expensive during hours when it’s needed most, such as late afternoon on a 100-degree day in July.

The program, which has to be approved by the Kansas Corporation Commission, would be available to 1,000 participants and is not specific to Lawrence.

“We have had quite a bit of interest in that type of rate availability and a lot of interest in Lawrence,” Jensen said.

In other places around the country, customers have questioned the accuracy of smart meter readings. Jensen said Westar hasn’t found any technical problems with the accuracy of the meters.

“That’s not to say there haven’t been any bill inquiries. There always are, smart meter or not, there are always a few changes in energy use for one reason or another,” Jensen said “But there is nothing that is out of the ordinary.”

A small percentage of the residents could see a slight increase in their bill because the smart meters are more accurate than the slow, old mechanical meters they are replacing. However Jensen said most of the city’s residents have been on digital meters for more than a decade.

A few Lawrence residents are refusing to make the switch to smart meters. In that case, Westar is meeting with them personally to convince them otherwise.

“Those are by far the exception,” Jensen said. “They are less than one-tenth of 1 percent.”

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 12 months ago

Mine was installed a week or so ago-- it would have been nice if they'd knocked on the door first and informed me that they were about to turn the power off.

pooter 2 years, 12 months ago

Proud member of the less than one-tenth of 1 percent group.

What this story fails to tell is how the good people of Lawrence have been duped and have allowed Westar to install these known to be dangerous to human health, plant, and wildlife, electromagnetic radiation polluting, surveillence devices onto their houses and businesses in mass using tax dollars stolen from future generations just so Westar can maximize their profits at our expense.

Investigate these "Smart Meters" and learn the truth.

stopsmartmeters.org

Then call Westar, lodge your protest, and demand the removal of these dangerous devices from your home and/or business without delay.

Radiating the entire city of Lawrence just isn't worth it.

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newtongirl 2 years, 12 months ago

That website seems more concerned about billing and privacy issues than radiation. The one scientific paper they did reference in regards to radiation was about telecom radiation - from phones and wifi. There's no scientific evidence referenced that has studied smart meters. But in the FAQ section for radiation, whoever wrote it (whether he's really qualified or not) did admit that smart meters run on the same frequency as cell phones.

So I hope you don't have a cell phone and your internet access you're using to read this is not wifi. Even if you don't, towers and wifi are everywhere. So really, the only way to get away from this scary RF radiation is to move into the woods and get off the grid.

I don't claim to know everything - or hardly anything - about radiation. I do know that a vast majority of us don't really know anything about radiation on a real scientific level. We hear the word "radiation" and just think bad things and picture scenes in movies. I do know that I don't like making decisions without knowing anything, and the lack of evidence on this website leaves me still not knowing anything.

And look at one of the questions in the FAQ regarding privacy: Q: I’ve seen a video describing how “smart” meters will make it possible for anyone to hack in and know all about my private life. Is this true?

This made me laugh. Even the answer to this question was a bunch of hot air that amounted to "we don't know". This is such a hype website.

pooter 2 years, 12 months ago

Sorry about that but you can remove the 25's LJW places in the web address to get past the filter to view the .pdf.

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Kat Christian 2 years, 12 months ago

Remember years ago - do you recall the incident where there were houses build in and around electrical wire grids (I don't know what they are called but they look like giant robots holding clothes lines) in any case they found that the people living near these wires developed cancers at an alarming rate more so than people who lived farther away from these towers. If in this meters is emiting they exact frequencies these towers are then YES I would have to say the people who have these in their homes are in trouble and should probably have their family check often for signs of cancer. Good Luck.

Loretta Ybarra 2 years, 12 months ago

When you call to get the meter installed, they give you so little information, it's made to sound like a great idea. Not only was my bill higher than I'd seen during a summer month, the cycling events are poorly explained. Westar takes over your service and has the right to turn your service on and off for 15 minute increments for up to 4 hours at a time. You may opt out of the program twice a month, but be guranteed any day over 100 degrees is a cycling day. My house reached 86 degrees on the last event. As an asthma sufferer, we left the house util the cycle ended. Once home, we had to turn the temp way down to cool our house down enough to sleep. The program is ill explained and applicants poorly screened. Questions regarding health conditions and the elderly should be mandatory. We still received notices of cycling events long after we had this removed. Obviously, they are not well tracked and a waste of more money Westar so desperately needed for their program by yet again raising our rates.

So_tired_of_the_whiners 2 years, 12 months ago

That is the Wattsaver program and you can opt out at anytime. This article is about smart meters...

Kat Christian 2 years, 12 months ago

Yes and I'm one of them who does not agree with the use of these meters. They tried to push these back East but only caused consumers to be overcharged. This article states that this meter is BEST FOR THE CONSUMER, but people read between the lines. This is Westar's way of making more money while cutting jobs in the process. They generalized the statement about billing problems - but you will see the problems will happen more then you think. I don't trust them. I don't want the meter so keep it.

true_patriot 2 years, 11 months ago

If you have any information on that phenomenon back east I'd be curious to read it. Once ours got put in our monthly bills shot up despite milder weather and lower usage habits this year than last. We called and were told the new meters are more accurate and I've now talked to several people that also have seen their bills shoot up, which would negate the argument that it's just a matter of accuracy (inaccuracy would be more random).

I don't think the accuracy thing is relevant anyway - the KCC is giving Westar rate increases (there is a huge rate increase request pending right now) which factors in what people are paying. If what people are paying is generally going up by just installing a new meter, then that is a de facto rate increase and the KCC allowed official rates should be lowered accordingly.

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