Pacific Power installing smart meters in Jackson County

Jackson County, Ore. — Pacific Power customers in Jackson County who don’t have one already will be getting a smart meter soon.

A smart meter is a digital electric meter that communicates with pacific power through a wireless network.

That means the company would be notified automatically if you experienced a power outage.

But some are concerned the meters may potentially impact their health.

“A smart meter is basically like the meters that a lot of our customers have now, except it operates by transmitting your energy-use information wirelessly,” Pacific Power’s Christina Kruger said.

For the rest of the summer, Pacific Power will be installing smart meters to each customer’s home in Jackson County.

The smart meter communicates energy usage and outage information to Pacific Power, by using a secure wireless network.

“We’re going to have information about whether or not our customers are experiencing an outage so we can restore their service more quickly,” Kruger said.

Those in favor of the smart meters say it’s more affordable, convenient, and efficient.

But there are a select few who are concerned about the potential health impacts.

“I’m an electrical contractor. I’ve dealt with multiple clients who have ems sensitivities, and it’s real,” Ashland resident Scott Ploss said.

Ems stands for electrical magnetic frequencies.

Ashland resident Scott Ploss says the smart meters release those frequencies, and he believes it could cause problems like sleep disturbances, dizziness, and other cognitive issues.

Ploss is worried about Pacific Power burying information, and not fully looking into the effects of non-ionizing radiation.

However, Pacific Power claims the company is a late adopter of the technology in order to make sure it’s safe for customers.

“Based on the information we’ve gathered, we found that if you were to stand in front of one of our meters 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, that would be less radio frequency exposure than a 15-minute cell phone call,” Kruger said.

It is possible to opt out of the smart meter.

Oregon customers would be charged a one-time $137 dollar meter exchange fee, then a monthly meter reading fee of $36 dollars.

And if customers change their mind within six months of the notification, Pacific Power would install a smart meter and refund the 137 meter exchange fee.

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