Environment

Louisville Gas & Electric customers opposed the utility’s plan to install smart meters on homes during a meeting Monday night.

LG&E is seeking permission from utility regulators to install about 1.3 million smart meters over the next four years.

The utility estimates the roll-out will cost approximately $350 million, amounting to an additional $2.60 per month for electric customers — however rate increases will have to be separately approved by the utility regulators.

LG&E says smart meters will save customers money and improve service, but the Attorney General’s office says the utility has overstated the benefits and underestimated the costs.

Customers raised concerns about the proposal during a meeting held by Kentucky’s Public Service Commission.

Less than a dozen people spoke at the meeting and no one spoke in favor of the proposal.

Engineer Greg Zahradnik said the current generation of meters are still reliable and the next generation are more likely to fail.

“Who here has a router at home? You know everyone, that’s what these are, what we’re doing is we are putting a router on there,” Zahradnik told commissioners at the meeting. “So how many times do we have to turn that off and on, how many times do you have to buy it, and how many times has that promised to last 10 or 20 years?”

Others at the meeting, including Mary Bryan, told utility regulators that renters and people from low-income households have less to gain from the switch.

“But so much is beyond the control of the people, like efficient appliances, so they will be paying without the benefit of seeing and adjusting their usage,” Bryan said.

Smart meters use radio transmitters to relay data in real-time back to utilities, like Wi-Fi for your energy meter. They also provide granular information about energy usage.

Under the current proposal, customers would be able to to opt-out of the smart meter program. To do that, customers will have to pay a monthly fee.

The Public Service Commission’s next public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for July 24 in Frankfort.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.