Posted: Friday, March 7, 2014 4:00 am
Naomi Prioleau email@example.com
When Kevin Schmidt’s wife Monica began to feel dizzy in the mornings while putting on her makeup, he initially brushed it off.
He didn’t think much of it until he noticed they had a new meter from AEP SWEPCO electric company, without any type of notification.
“I noticed we had a new meter and had heard about it in the past and that there were various problems with it with people,” he said. “I didn’t know the SmartMeter was installed but it was producing radio magnetic frequencies and that alarmed me.”
On its website, AEP Texas confirms the use of radio frequency communications with the SmartMeter, but said it was comparable to how baby monitors emit the same frequencies and that it is FCC approved.
By AEP Texas’ definition, a SmartMeter is a “digital electric meter equipped with wireless communications technology.” The meters were designed to help customers manage their use of energy easier, save money and reduce impact on the environment.
Schmidt said another factor that upset him with the meters was that they could tell how customers were using their electricity and the fact that he couldn’t do anything about it.
“This specific type of meter collects data, usage and the time of day,” he said. “I got more upset that there was no option to have it in the home.”
AEP Texas began installing the meters in 2010 and it is expected to be complete this year with the number of SmartMeters installed totaling nearly 1,000,000.
Schmidt has had Mayor Ed Smith and Representative Chris Paddie contact SWEPCO about the situation to no avail. The Schmidts also have given the electric company a 30-day notice asking to remove it and replace it with a safe analog meter but nothing came of it. They then sent AEP SWEPCO a default notice that an electrician would be replacing the meter with an analog one.
After coming home earlier this week and discovering their electricity was shut off, Schmidt said he plans on suing the company.
“We hired a licensed qualified electrician who replaced our meter after SWEPCO refused to answer our letters,” he said. “Without any notice to us, they cut off our electricity yesterday afternoon and for the safety, health and privacy of your family, you don’t want that meter.”
Some SmartMeters in other cities and states have been the cause of fires due to overheating; however, none have been reported in Marshall.
“I don’t think anyone wants people knowing when you are up at night washing dishes,” he added. “It’s just a shame that if you want to stand up and say you don’t want be surveilled they can shut your power off.”