Citing health concerns, some NC utility customers say no to smart meters
Duke Energy to propose extra fee to NC customers who refuse to take a smart meter at home
Some believe radio frequencies cause neurological damage, cancer and other serious side effects
Utilities and regulators around the country are facing opposition to smart meters
Duke Energy’s plan to roll out two-way smart meters to 3.2 million customers in North Carolina in the coming years is generating static from a vociferous minority of customers who say they are highly sensitive to radio frequencies and want nothing to do with the program.
Charlotte-based Duke is planning to propose an opt-out fee in June for these customers who complain of headaches, ear-ringing, dizziness and nausea from exposure to wireless frequencies. But they might have to pay a steep price for the privilege, based on a similar request Duke has filed in Ohio.
Duke initially suggested charging Ohio residential customers $1,073.10 for customers who want to have an old-fashioned utility meter at their home, then revised the one-time charge to $426.04. The utility also wants to charge Ohio households $40.63 a month for meter readings.
Duke Energy Carolinas plans to submit a proposed opt-out rate to the N.C. Utilities Commission in June. Duke has installed 495,000 advanced meters in the state and bypassed 312 customers who objected to the new two-way meters. The company’s Raleigh-based utility subsidiary, Duke Energy Progress, has about 65,000 customers on smart meters at this time. The commission, which regulates utility rates and tariffs, has not indicated if it plans to schedule a public hearing to address the issue, which is generating considerable buzz among concerned customers.