NV Energy wants extra fee for refusing smart meter

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada's largest utility wants to charge an extra fee to customers who don't want new "smart" meters.

NV Energy officials have prepared a draft order to present to the state Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday to establish the alternative system for the estimated 10,000 customers who want to opt out of the new technology.

In southern Nevada, it would cost $98 to install the alternative meter, plus a monthly fee of $9, the Las Vegas Sun reported Friday (http://tinyurl.com/bzhh83j ). In northern Nevada, installation would cost $107, with a $10 monthly fee.

NV Energy has installed about 1.3 million smart meters, which can transmit meter-reading data directly from a home or business to the utility.

Some customers critical of the meters fear they might cause health hazards or invade their privacy. NV Energy said many have indicated they would be willing to pay the added cost.

California, Vermont and Maine are among other states that have allowed residents to opt out of the system.

Utilities began replacing old-style electricity meters across the country about seven years ago as part of an effort to better manage demand on an increasingly strained power grid.

Utility officials say they can use the real-time information to help prevent grid overloads during extreme temperatures. The devices would also promote conservation, such as cycling air conditioners on and off during peak demand periods.

The critics who emphasize privacy concerns cite a report issued by the U.S. Department of Energy in January that said many companies had not done enough to protect the smart meters from hackers. Some studies have also added to the health concerns. A branch of the World Health Organization last year called radio-frequency radiation from cellphones, utility meters and other devices a "possible carcinogen."

However, the Federal Communications Commission has rated the smart meters as safe, saying they are considered unlikely to cause bodily tissue heating or electric shock. The radio frequency radiation levels are much lower than those emitted by cellphones, supporters say.

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