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[April 18, 2012]
Public Meeting Scheduled On OG&E Smart Grid Technology
Apr 18, 2012 (Times Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Area residents concerned about Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co.'s conversion to a smart grid electric system will have an opportunity to meet with officials from OG&E and the Arkansas Public Service Commission over the project.
A town hall meeting on the smart grid system will be held at 6 p.m. April 30 at the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, 612 Garrison Ave.
Arkansas state Sen. Jake Files, R-Fort Smith, said he arranged the meeting with PSC officials at the request of citizens who were interested in "opting out" of OG&E's grid system. Files said he learned such an option does not exist in the OG&E network.
"We wanted to allow a PSC representative to hear the concerns of the people and we wanted to allow OG&E officials the chance to explain the system, tell people what is going to happen and address some of their concerns," Files said. "We want to allow both sides to be heard." He said PSC Executive Director John Bethel has agreed to attend the meeting.
OG&E is installing meters and related equipment to extend the smart grid into the Fort Smith region of its system. Work began in March to upgrade or switch out meters for some 68,000 customers in the Fort Smith area. Brian Alford, OG&E managing director of corporate communications and community relations, said Tuesday about 24,000 installations had been completed. Contractors for the company are converting or installing 1,000 to 1,500 new meters a day, he said.
The company is in the midst of a three-year program, which it expects to complete in 2014.
OG&E says the changeout will establish a secure wireless connection between OG&E and each of the 800,000 meters on its system.
Information about customer service will be instantly communicated to the company, enabling the company to "read" meters remotely, rather than sending crews of readers to each location every month.
The system will alert the company to respond to peak power demands and to detect power outages.
The company says reduced operating costs will translate to customer savings in the form of stabilized rates. Customers will be able to monitor their electricity use and use the smart grid system to realize even better savings, according to OG&E.
Opponents of the system cite numerous issues of lost privacy, increased customer cost and health concerns involving exposure to radio frequency and electromagnetic frequency waves. They also complain that OG&E has attempted to hurry installation of the system without adequate public notice or input.
___ (c)2012 Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.) Visit Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.) at www.swtimes.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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