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Spanish Springs is first in the area to get smart meters
by Jill Lufrano
Jan 18, 2012 | 1909 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Byrne - Smart meters such as this one are being installed in northern Nevada, with residents in Spanish Springs being the first to receive the devices on Tuesday.
Tribune/John Byrne - Smart meters such as this one are being installed in northern Nevada, with residents in Spanish Springs being the first to receive the devices on Tuesday.
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SPANISH SPRINGS — NV Energy technicians were busy installing new smart meters in the Spanish Springs area Tuesday as part of a statewide system upgrade.

Some 300 properties were expected to receive the meters by the end of the day, a spokeswoman said.

“Spanish Springs is the first area to get them,” said NV Energy spokeswoman Faye Andersen.

It was unclear if area residents received notice about the smart meter installations since no one at NV Energy was available for comment about the program Tuesday.

Last week during a news conference, Gary Smith, director of customer energy solutions, said the NV Energize smart meter program would save about $35 million annually in operating costs, savings that will eventually be passed down to ratepayers.

Cyndy Brown, a member of the Spanish Springs Advisory Board, said she worried the installation would cost her additional money on power usage and could affect local jobs.

“From what I am understanding, there will be jobs lost in meter reading, and also I am hearing they are also going to cost us more money in our power bills,” Brown said. “A third point, from what I’ve heard, if we use too much power, they can cut us off.”

Though Brown hadn’t spoken directly to officials at NV Energy recently, she had learned of the program’s effects on the Las Vegas population after smart meter installation, she said.

“It doesn’t seem like a good thing to me,” she said. “I don’t want people to lose their jobs. It’s already happening in Vegas and they’re already losing jobs down there.”

NV Energy officials did say last week that positions for meter readers are being eliminated, but the company is looking to move the employees into installation or technology support roles.

The $300 million project will replace some 1.4 million traditional meters statewide. It is supported by $138 million in federal stimulus funding. NV Energy expects to outfit nearly every property in the state with the new technology by the end of the year.

Smart meters digitally catalog energy use and consumption without the need for onsite readings. The meters take readings every 15 minutes and consumers can track their day-to-day, hour-to-hour consumption. Customers can review their usage online. They also can track their day-to-day billing and receive email notices chronicling their usage.

The smart meters do not currently have the ability to turn off appliances in a home without a homeowner’s permission, according to literature on NV Energy’s website. However, “in the future, NV Energy may offer voluntary programs that include Home Area Network Devices for inside the home that give customers the ability to control certain appliances,” according to the website.

The meters also “do not” increase energy bills, according to the utility company.

“Smart meters have been tested and proven to record energy usage accurately and do not cause higher bills. In most cases, higher bills can be attributed to changes in weather, timing of rates, older equipment malfunctions and human error,” the company reports.

Customers can opt out of the program or postpone installment of smart meters at their home or business. A meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. today to address the viability of a formal opt-out program. The workshop will be held at the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada office, 1150 E. Williams St. in Carson City. For more information, visit www.puc.nv.gov.
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