Dec 15, 2011 10:54 PM by Shawn Kline

Are LUS Smart Meters too smart?

"It can provide this information about what devices are going on or off in my home and when they are." Joseph Dugal says, "that's surveillance."

Dugal is a Lafayette Utilities System customer and he asks, are Smart Meters too smart?
That's one of the reasons he doesn't want one installed at his home.

For LUS, Smart Meters are more accurate and it takes out the middle-man; no more meter readers.
For customers, Dugal says the benefits are few and far between.

"All of the intimate personal details we assumed are our own because they happened between these four walls are now being communicated to utilities," Dugal said.

Smart Meters take the most accurate electric and water usage numbers and almost immediately sends that data back to LUS headquarters.
Dugal says the meters are so accurate they can even detect trace signatures of certain appliances.

"We'll only know the accumulated electricity usage by the customer." LUS's Andrew Duhon says, "we won't be able to tell when an individual device is being used like a toaster."

Duhon already has one of these Smart Meters set-up at LUS. He says it's not much different than your traditional meter and when these are installed next year, it may even save customers some cash.

"When we have high bill complaints, we'll be able to answer those questions with information immediately from the meter that day," Duhon said. "Not waiting a full month until the end of the bill period."

So what's this new meter going to cost? You've already paid for it. LUS spent about $22-million to fit the meters to just about every building in Lafayette.
If you don't want it, there's an opt-out plan on the table but that would cost an extra $12/month.

"if I'm paying $100 right now and that includes a meter reading." Dugal says, "so why am I going to have to pay $12/month more if the meter reading is already in there?"

The opt-out plan is up for vote at the next Lafayette City-Parish Council meeting.



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