A CPS Energy employee checks a meter. Photo courtesy of CPS Energy.
A CPS Energy employee checks a meter. Photo courtesy of CPS Energy.

Alamo Heights Mayor Louis Cooper expressed relief that CPS Energy is waiting until later in 2015 to bring the energy utility’s Smart Grid Initiative to the City of Beauty and Charm, where a small but vocal group of citizens have organized to slow down or stop the project.

CPS’ new smart meters were the subject of substantial concern and criticism by more than a dozen citizens at the Heights Sept. 22 City Council meeting. In fact, Cooper preempted the anticipated protests by announcing at the meeting’s outset that the City Council was sending a letter to CPS Energy for a one-year delay in the project to give city officials time to study the concerned citizen’s health, safety and privacy concerns. A letter sent by CPS Energy back to Cooper doesn’t give city officials the full year requested, but it does give them at least six months until the second quarter of 2015.

Cooper said the delay in installing the plan’s new smart meters will give the Alamo Heights City Council more time to review the documentation assembled by the concerned citizens, some of which has been sent to the Rivard Report and is under review. We have not seen any peer-reviewed scientific studies that demonstrate any evidence that smart meters or any other devices that rely on low-frequency signals for transmitting data can cause cancer or are linked to serious health concerns if used as directed.

In his Sept. 25 letter to Cooper, CPS Energy Vice President of External Relations Rudy Garza wrote that utility officials would work with Alamo Heights to resolve such concerns.

“Over the next several months, our team is committed to continue our education/information efforts within your community,” Garza wrote. “After review of our information schedule, and in consideration of the discussion which occurred at City Council on Monday evening, we thought you should know that we do not plan to begin meter installations in Alamo Heights until the second quarter of 2015.”

Garza wrote that CPS would notify city officials 30 days in advance of “any meter installations beginning in your community.”

The Smart Grid Initiative will mean faster service restoration following outages, and the addition of future programs and services, such as new payment options, and the ability of customers to better manage their energy usage.

For CPS Energy, the SGI means new efficiencies in customer service, faster connection of service and an opportunity to eliminate billing estimates and meter reader errors.

“I really appreciate the fact that CPS responded in such a timely manner and appreciate that they’re giving us and those concerned citizens that have expressed interest, more time to further review the documentation, dig in deeper into these smart meters and answer questions they have,” Cooper said.

“We are very grateful to CPS to give us that time,” he said. “They heard and were nice enough to come to our meeting, listen to our citizens, hear their request and then immediately respond to the requests of the council and send the letter.”

Alamo Heights City Council next meets on Oct. 6, although smart meters are not on the agenda.

*Featured/top image: A CPS Energy employee checks a meter. Photo courtesy of CPS Energy.

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Katherine Nickas

Katherine Nickas was born in San Antonio near Fort Sam Houston but grew up in southern Indiana. In 2007, she began working for Indiana AgriNews where she covered topics ranging from corn and soybean production...