Claremore Daily Progress

October 11, 2013

Citizens raise questions about smart meters

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE —

The Claremore City Council voted Monday to obtain bids for a new smart meter electric and water system.
Prior to the vote, the council gave citizens an opportunity to weigh in on the project.
“We are not making a decision here tonight,” said Mayor Mickey Perry. “We are going to vote to go out for bids to see what is there.”
John Fleak was the first of the city residents to speak.
“Why does everything involve the city saving money not the citizens?  Why not put the smart meters on city buildings first and see if there is a savings?” Fleak said.
Fleak believes there is a health risk associated with the meters and asked the council if citizens would be able to opt out of new meter installation. 
Gene Daniel shared a similar concern, questioning the need for a new system.
“Now we are being told the water meters are reading low,” Daniel said. “You recalibrate and get them in the accuracy you want. You don’t replace them because the bill is not as high as you like it to be.”
Daniel requested the council include citizen participation in the process to increase transparency.
There is no viable data or tests with information on the long-term affects on humans, Mary Ann Linton said. 
“Most tests were done on dummies and I don’t want to be one,” she said.
The concern is the possibility of electro omission from the devices.
Gerald Carlburg spoke about the scientific studies of the effects of electromagnetic fields in an effort to clarify the issue.
Information on both sides of the issue was presented to the council for review.
Councilman Mark Lepak explained the reality of these types of devices in our society today is that they are very common and in the public domain.
Lepak said an example is small cell technology and low powered antennas to provide better cellular service and meet customer’s expectations in the market place.
This is a very common type of technology, Lepak said.
“The city is aware of various studies which raise different degrees of health issues. It is our purpose to serve the citizens of Claremore. We would not willingly or knowingly install devices that would create health concerns,” City Manager Jim Thomas said. “We love our citizens.” 
The council voted to solicit a Request For Proposals on smart grid service for a term of 10 years and once the bids are received the documents will be reviewed for any potential problems with the system.
“I think this is worth exploring. I am not discounting anyone’s comments,” Thomas said. “Right now we have a very expensive electrical system that is serving a big population and when there is a problem this tool is one of many tools that will help us isolate the problem.”
City officials said the smart meters present benefits to consumers as well as the city.
Each user would have access to detailed information about their billing and tools to improve energy efficiency.