Nearly half of the over 30,000 water meters in Red Deer have been switched to smart meters.
In 2014 the city began installing Automatic Meter Reading technology, or smart meters, that use wireless technology similar to cordless phones to deliver data from a water meter inside a home or business to meter reading staff collecting data as they drive by.
The meters send a quick, low-level radio frequency signal triggered by a handheld device.
Alex Monkman, the city’s water superintendent, said so far about 13,000 smart meters have been installed.
“The technology is moving towards this for the industry. Soon we won’t be able to get a meter without one of these transmitters on it so we want to get ahead of the curve. It also adds efficiencies to our process. Instead of having someone go do individual reads on every house, it will be a quicker process for us,” Monkman said.
He said all the cities in Alberta have gone to this style of meter.
On Monday the Advocate spoke to a Red Deer resident who steadfastly refuses to have smart meters in her home because she has health concerns about exposure to electromagnetic radiation.
Monkman said the program has had very good reception from residents. Less than 20 people have said they don’t want a smart meter.
He said the city probably gets a couple calls a month from people with questions about the meters.
“We send the education package which includes the information from Alberta Health Services on the meters and that style of remote transmitter, as well as Health Canada.
He said some people are worried there is private information stored on the device.
“They’re concerned someone is going to hack the device and get the information. No private information is stored on the device. No addresses, no personal information. All that is stored at City Hall on our system.”
He said people can refuse to have a smart meter, but it will cost them a one time fee of $85 for staff to initially access the meter, and a $25 monthly fee to input information. A $65 fee to do a manual read will be charged if there is a problem with the meter, and that fee can be charged up to twice a year.
No one has been charged those fees yet, he said.