October 20, 2014

Smart Meter concerns could prompt law change

Local utility companies across the state have started installing so-called ‘smart meters’ at homes, which allow them to streamline the billing process by collecting data wireless, rather than sending a worker around with a meter reader. The devices have raised some concerns about privacy though, since they could potentially be used to monitor other data about power and water usage.

Those concerns are prompting a state lawmaker to call for legislation that would allow customers to opt-out of having the new technology installed. State Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) says people should have the right to protect their privacy.

Thiesfelt says he’s concerned that hackers could access the system, and then use it to see if a home security system is on or follow electricity usage patterns. He says that information could make it clear when a person leaves for the day or when they go to bed at night.

AUDIO: Rep. Thiesfelt (:18)

Thiesfeldt says most people probably would not have anything to worry about, but a utility should not force a product on its customers if it could compromise their safety.

Utilities have defended the technology as an easier way for them to collect billing information and have frequently denied that the data could be used to spy on customers.

Rick Schuh, WHBY