Friendly Neighborhood Residents Speak About Recent EWEB Proposal

Friendly Neighborhood Residents Speak About Recent EWEB Proposal

Local residents of the Friendly Area Neighborhood discuss both the positive and negative aspects of EWEB’s new “Smart Meters”. 

BY Charlie Kaufman

Eugene Water and Electric Board is currently in the process of conducting their Smart Meter Pilot Project that will replace mechanical electric meters in the Friendly Area Neighborhood of Eugene with a new technology.  Residents of the community have different thoughts on the subject as potential health risks from the “smart meters” may pose a threat.

“It’s controversial in terms of questions about the health ramifications,” said Friendly Neighborhood resident Deborah Simmons. “I see the benefits as being that we would get good feedback of our use and we would be able to view the time of day and know when we could turn things off and turn things on to improve the power supply. I see that as being a positive. The negative side of the health seems to be a little bit unclear as to what it is and when you include wireless routers and cell phone towers and everything else I’m not sure that it really adds significantly. We know that there are health risks related to cell phones but people use them all the time.”

Deborah Simmons with her husband

The main concern for Friendly Area residents is the amount of transmission exposure from the meters.  John Femal, the community education coordinator at EWEB, says that the transmission exposure is nothing to fear.

“Wi-Fi, baby monitors, radios, all members in this electro-magnetic spectrum are used from radio frequency waves,” Femal said. “You don’t sleep on your smart meter, but you sleep next to your phone.  The amount of exposure is unbelievably small.”

The pilot project for these smart meters involves a 12-month testing period that began last year with 100 customers willing to test the product.  Many companies such as Portland General Electric have made the switch to the smart meters and the city currently has around 150,000 meters.

“I guess if there’s a possibility that it’s going to emit radioactive particles, they should probably test it out but I think I’m in favor of it for the most part,” explained Kevin Poehner, an employee at Capella Market in the Friendly Neighborhood. “The old system is kind of busted where the dude has to walk around and creep in my backyard and read the meter and do all that stuff. Long term it’s got a lot of potential but right now I understand it’s got some problems.”

Capella Market is located in the Friendly Neighborhood and provides residents with excellent food and a social environment to discuss their communities issues.

The mixed reactions in regards to the new smart meters that EWEB intends to incorporate are evident everywhere. Both the positive and negative aspects of this new technology will be weighed heavily in the near future as a decision is made on implanting these new devices.  As of right now, the residents of Eugene’s Friendly Neighborhood will continue to weigh the pros and cons until a decision is reached.

About Charlie Kaufman

My name is Charlie Kaufman and I am a journalism student at the University of Oregon. I hope to focus on investigative journalism with an emphasis on sports. In the future I would like to be working with ESPN or CBS sports making sports documentary pieces that go into the lives of athletes rather than just focus on what they can do with their athletic ability. I also really enjoy science and informative documentary, where an individual can watch an hour or so film and get a full understanding of a new subject.
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