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Residents voice concerns over Smart Meter installations

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013 6:15 p.m. CST

BROOKFIELD – Several residents had their questions about the upcoming installation of new ComEd Smart Meters answered by a ComEd spokesman at the Brookfield Village Board meeting Monday evening.

The energy company is planning on installing new electricity readers in many of its Brookfield customers’ homes starting Sept. 22 and continuing for three weeks, Michael McMahon, a ComEd spokesman said.

One resident asked about reports last week that some smart Smart Meters caught fire when they were installed.

McMahon acknowledged that among the thousands of installations there were three cases of overheating. He said in each case independent investigators determined that the cause came from aging power connectors in the customer’s house itself. McMahon said ComEd staff are now trained to call an electrician to fix any potential problem before installing the Smart Meter.

Another resident said he’d read that there were instances of California residents with Smart Meters becoming sick as a result of radiation exposure from the new radio inside the meter that relays electricity use information to ComEd. The man said the device gave off more radiation than a cell phone and was on all day.

“Let’s correct a couple of things to start with,” McMahon said. “The total ‘on’ time for a Smart Meter is less than five minutes a day, it is not continuous.”

McMahon said the device stores information and broadcasts information back to ComEd about four times per day. In addition, McMahon said the radiation signal from the Smart Meter to a person standing three feet away from it is 120 times less powerful than a cellphone held to the ear.

The new digital meters will replace the old analog meters that have been used for decades. 

Among the benefits of the new meters touted by ComEd is the ability of customers to participate in what is called Dynamic Pricing Policy.

McMahan said currently most people on traditional meters are on a flat rate plan where they pay the same price for electricity day or night. However, the price of electricity actually fluctuates nationwide on an hourly basis. 

Residents whose Smart Meters will be installed later this month should have already received or should be about to receive a door hanger with installation information. Information on the installation has been posted on the village of Brookfield’s website for the past few weeks.

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