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City of Red Deer taking wait-and-see approach to smart meters

Red Deer is watching closely as Saskatchewan removes 105,000 electricity smart meters due to eight unexplained fires in the last two months.

The City of Red Deer has been looking at installing the automated meters that read power consumption in intervals via radio frequency and eliminate the need to have meter readers visit each meter.

Garfield Lee, senior electrical distribution engineer with the city’s Electric Light and Power Department, said the cause of the fires must be investigated and addressed before Red Deer makes a decision.

“We’re one of the very few utilities in Canada that does not have (smart meters),” Lee said on Tuesday.

“We’re looking at it, but we don’t know when and we don’t know for sure.”

The expense of installing the meters is a big concern for city council, Lee said.

Over the last couple of years, ATCO Gas has added automated meter reading devices to its meters.

“We’ve had no indications in any of our devices that we’re aware of in North America, or in our system, that have caused a similar issue as it has in Saskatchewan,” said Keith Carter, ATCO senior vice-president for the Edmonton region and technical services.

He said the device is not wired into a house like the electricity smart meter.

“We have the same gas meter as we always had. We just added a battery-operated device as a transmitter.”

“We’ve had no safety issues,” Carter said.

Lori Curran of Red Deer does not agree and encourages people to do the research and become informed.

She said the electromagnetic radiation from the transmission devices can be harmful.

“I believe it’s a danger to your health. You are being exposed to them all the time. I’d just rather stay away from it myself,” said Curran, who is a wholistic nutritionist and had the device at her home removed by ATCO in 2012.

Curran, who does not have a cellphone due to radiation concerns, said all radiation causes changes and its impact is cumulative.

Carter said the device sends out a very small signal.

“The radio frequency operates at a frequency that is less than a hand-held cellphone and the radio frequency technology people use in their houses already,” Carter said.

He said the device also makes it much safer for ATCO employees who otherwise would have to go into people’s backyards.

ATCO charges Curran extra because the metre has to be read by a meter reader.



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