GPA seeks educating community on Smart Meters - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GPA seeks educating community on Smart Meters

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Ahead of its public outreach campaign, the Guam Power Authority held its first village meter on its Smart Meter program, addressing concerns raised by residents and explaining the benefits it will have for customers. Hoping to educate on the facts and break the myths of the hysteria surrounding its Smart Grid program and Smart Meter project, the utility agency held its first village meeting Tuesday night at the Dededo Senior Center.

Consolidated Commission on Utilities chair Simon Sanchez says several of the benefits include improved customer service and cost savings on oil purchases. "Smart Grid is sweeping the globe, and it's going to be the technology that is going to be used for distributing power forever," he explained. "The days of the analog meters are going away."

Yet not everyone is so keen on the idea, as concerns have been raised over health and privacy issues. And as we've reported, a Tamuning resident even filed a lawsuit in the District Court against GPA over planned installation of the meters.

Sanchez admits Smart Meters send out a radio frequency, but clarifies that it is lower than that of microwaves or mobile phones. Nonetheless, he understands the concern and has asked GPA management to study those communities that have allowed for opting out on the Smart Meters and how it would work best for Guam. However, research has shown that for communities that have allowed for opting-out that a fee would be included. 

"It's not unusual that some people might want to opt-out for some reasons, and we're going to find a way to make that work so that everyone can be comfortable," he said.

He estimates fees ranged from $70 a year to about $10 a month, adding the opt-out rate globally is less than one percent of the total customer. Committee on Utilities chair Senator Tom Ada hopes an interim policy is implemented in the meantime, saying, "I personally believe that with the opt-out option, there will be a direct correlation between how well they conduct their public outreach so that people understand the benefits of the smart meters and the number of people that will be opting-out."

A large public outreach is set for November to include direct mailers, more village meetings and demonstrations islandwide. The CCU will meet on November 6 to further discuss an opt-out policy.

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