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Council Meeting About Smart Meters Heats Up

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(Memphis) Monday’s town hall meeting over smart meters got heated quick.

"Do you have a smart meter? councilman Myron Lowery asked IBEW’s Bill Hawkins.

Hawkins admitted having a smart meter on his Olive Branch home, even though he has been a strong opponent about MLGW putting them in Memphis.

"I think you should have told members of the union that," Lowery said.

Hawkins said he had no choice because his company wouldn’t remove it.

The next fiery debate started over MLGW’s president. He didn't come to the meeting after claiming his staff was harassed at the last one. Lowery said someone even threw a punch at him.

“For him not to show up is a cowardly thing to do,” Janis Fullilove said.

Most in this group were against smart meters, citing safety issues and cost.

But their biggest issue is privacy.

“Every smart meter that is installed will be an entry point for hacking,” Yvonne Burton said.

Councilman Joe Brown even compared smart meters to communism.

“There is such thing as an invasion of privacy,” he said.

So far MLGW says there have been no reports of hacking in their pilot program. There are 1,000 meters right now in Memphis.

Anthony Durden volunteered to get one.

"I’m very concerned about energy conservation and energy consumption so it was really a no-brainer for me to join,” Durden said.

Durden hasn’t had any trouble from his meter. By watching his usage his bill actually dropped.

“Really just changing lifestyle just a little bit,” he said.” It’s not like I’m up at two in the morning washing clothes.”

He is on the "time of use rate" program, which MLGW says you will have to "opt in” to have it.

That means that your bill will depend on how much you use at a particular time of day.

In Durden’s case, he lowers his consumption when the rate it high.

MLGW says  the rates will break down like this:

Summer On-Peak kWh per month $0.13164
Summer Off Peak kWh per month $0.04490
Winter On Peak kWh per month $0.07626
Winter Off Peak kWh per month $0.04490
Transition kWh per month $0.04490

If you don’t want to participate in this part of the smart meter program you don’t have to.

In fact, you don’t have to participate at all. MLGW says you can opt out of having a smart meter at your house.

Council will vote on whether to approve the $10 million to fund the smart meter program soon.