Entergy installing new technology across La., some choose to opt out

Updated: Mar. 16, 2019 at 8:38 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A new technology is coming to your neighborhood. By 2021, nearly everyone in Louisiana will have “smart meters” that collect data on your electricity and gas usage.

Toni Green-Brown, public affairs manager for Entergy New Orleans, said the company started installing the new meters last month (Feb. 4) and plan on wrapping up by the end of 2020.

"It's going great so far," said Entergy New Orleans Public Affairs Manager Toni Green-Brown.

Green-Brown said they’re expected to be installed in parishes across the state by 2021.

“Many of the utilities in the U.S. have installed advanced meters, so we want to bring the same benefits to our customers and so they will have interval data on the electric meter and their gas meter,” Green-Brown explained.

She said once they’re up and running, customers will be able to see their electricity usage every 15 minutes and their gas usage every hour. According to Green-Brown, that will allow folks to cut costs.

“You know, ‘I have the water heater set to 140. Maybe if I turn it down some, I’ll see what that does to the bill,’ and so, it gives them information to help them decide how to make their bill a little cheaper,” she said.

What’s more, since Entergy is able to communicate with the meters directly, it can detect power failures and more rapidly connect or disconnect power, according to Eric Skrmetta, a Louisiana public service commissioner.

“We will be able to have the companies dispatch repair crews exactly to the location where they’re out. Before, that’s not exactly how the system worked we were in a position where we would have to rely more on telephone communication,” Skrmetta said.

Yet, not everyone is buying in to the new system.

“I consider opting out, loving your neighbor as yourself,” New Orleans resident Grace Hall said.

Hall said she paid to keep her old meter.

“I think there are health concerns, privacy concerns, there are so many concerns that are not being addressed. They’re just rushing this through,” Hall said.

Green-Brown said both the World Health Organization and the Food and Drug Administration gave the O.K. on the use of these meters.

"They use the same radio frequency as some of your household appliances, like your microwaves and your baby monitors and your TV's and even less than your cell phone," Green-Brown said.

Hall remains unconvinced.

Louisiana public service commissioner Lambert Boissiere said he supports advanced meters but understands, not everyone wants one.

“I want the public to have as much control as possible," Boissiere said. “People, for whatever reason, may or may not be comfortable with the new technology, may have other regions they don’t wish to have a smart meter at this time. So, I wanted to make it as easy as possible for those people to opt out of the smart meters.”

The Louisiana Public Service Commission gave Entergy Louisiana the okay to install advanced meters, while the New Orleans City Council approved the move for Entergy New Orleans.

Beginning in January, your bill included a small amount to recover costs for the upgrade.

If you’re a New Orleans resident, you can learn more about advanced meters here http://energyfutureneworleans.com/#meter-status. If you don’t live in the city, click here. http://energyfuturelouisiana.com/

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