Your April 13 article “Full Speed Ahead: Smart Meters Coming to WNC” [Xpress] presented a very distorted perspective on smart meters, and I’m deeply concerned that it will create controversy where one doesn’t need to exist. It’s incredibly sad when a technology that holds so much promise for helping to solve our very urgent energy/climate problems is introduced to the public in this way. If there has ever been a time for humans to check their tendency toward conspiracy theory thinking, we are living in it.
Smart meters are a necessary step if our electricity grid is going to accommodate distributed storage (residential batteries like the Tesla power wall). They also offer endless opportunities for apps and other data-driven efficiency strategies that we haven’t dreamed of yet. There’s also a reduction in fossil fuel use when meter readers don’t have to drive to homes anymore.
The [radio frequencies] issue is so minor that it’s important to put it into context. If you (or your neighbors) are using a cellphone or have a wireless network, you’re getting much more exposure already. And if this were a lurking public health problem, I would expect we’d already have obvious cluster health effects in people who experience high exposures in their jobs.
Yes, human health is something we need to be concerned about. But we should start by focusing on things that have known, documented, very serious and real health effects — like pollution from using fossil fuels for energy. Smart meters will reduce this pollution while also saving money for rate payers.
The privacy issue is real and will require care on Duke [Energy’s] part to handle appropriately. Fortunately, they have every incentive to do so to avoid a public relations nightmare.
I’ve asked Duke to consider my home as a pilot participant in this program and will be thrilled to participate if that happens. It deserves to be portrayed in a more positive light.
— Amy Musser, Ph.D.
Editor’s note: Amy Musser is co-owner of Vandemusser Design, an Asheville energy-efficiency consulting and certification company that helps clients build energy-efficient and net-zero energy homes.