'Smart Meters' coming to all PSO customers, some aren't happy

The war of words on the Internet is a bitter one

By the time they're done, the Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) will have installed well over a half million "smart meters" in the state, and the process has just begun in Tulsa.

Some people voice strong objections, citing safety and health concerns.

But the utility says customers have no choice in the matter, and dismiss the concerns as fear mongering.

Luci Morgan is a Tulsa resident who says she doesn't want a smart meter installed.

"There's a lot of parts to this, and when you peel back the layers of the onion, there's a lot of interesting things going on," she told KRMG.

Specifically, she fears that the devices - referred to by the industry as Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) - emit a potentially carcinogenic level of radio waves.

She says the devices could potentially catch fire, and that PSO plans to sell its data to third parties.

Data, she claims, which can specifically determine what devices are being used in the home, and when.

But PSO spokesman Stan Whiteford dismisses those concerns, saying they're based on false information posted on the Internet.

"There are a number of rumors and things on the Internet to spread fear," Whiteford said, and points to the company's FAQ page for the company's perspective on those issues.

Questioned directly by KRMG, he did address Morgan's concerns one by one.

He said the radio waves transmitted by the meters (a brief burst every 15 minutes) use the 900 MHz frequency, as do most cell phones, baby monitors, and other wireless devices.

Typically, he said, fires associcated with AMI technology have been traced back to the sockets, not the devices -- the same sockets used by the current analog meters.

As for mining the data, Whiteford answered with a flat "no" when asked if the device could extrapolate specific usage from the data it collects, e.g. whether you're using a toaster or a blow dryer.

And what data it does collect, which he says is exactly the same data current meters collect, can not be sold to anyone because that's a crime under Oklahoma law.

Rather, he believes the data will be valuable for customers themselves, who can track their own usage and find ways to cut down on power usage.

It will also help identify outages, and the precise locations and numbers involved in those outages, giving the utility better response times.

KRMG found the two leading websites which advocate for and against AMI:

Listen

news

weather

traffic

mobile apps

Everything you love about krmg.com and more! Tap on any of the buttons below to download our app.

amazon alexa

Enable our Skill today to listen live at home on your Alexa Devices!