Local News

Council to hear about KPU’s new electric meters

The Ketchikan City Council will hear a presentation Thursday about Ketchikan Public Utilities Electric Division’s move to new electric meters.

KPU Electric Division Manager Andy Donato provided the slides for his presentation in the City Council’s meeting packet. Those slides start with a history lesson, noting that electric meters first were used in the mid-1880s. Those old-style meters are no longer made, according to Donato. New digital electronic meters are now the norm.

Donato says the new meters provide better accuracy, are more reliable, and have lower maintenance costs. The new meters can allow utility companies to manage a customer’s electric use through two-way communication, but Donato says KPU doesn’t use its meters that way.

He notes that there are critics of the new style of meters, who believe that the new technology is intrusive and potentially harmful to health. Regarding the health concerns, Donato says the radio frequency exposure from smart meters is lower than, for example, the natural radio frequency from the Earth, and much lower than the exposure from talking on a cell phone.

A group called Ketchikan for Meter Choice has formed, and has an online petition asking the local government to not require KPU customers to have the new meters on their homes. The group was formed by Amanda Mitchell, who also is spearheading the effort to stop the city from switching to chloramine water disinfection.

In an email sent Thursday to the Council and cc’d to KRBD, Mitchell writes that Donato’s presentation is based on inaccurate science. She has asked the city to host a forum to provide information about the issue.

There is no Council action related to electric meters on the agenda. Tonight’s Ketchikan City Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers, with public comment at the beginning of the meeting.

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