Am I being monitored?  Am I being watched?

Some in Montana are asking this with concern over the smart meters installed.  Upgraded with high technology, these Automated Meter Readers may be able to transmit data on your electric usage to the power company.  And that is enough to unnerve homeowners and renters.

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A representative from NorthWestern Energy briefly tried to reassure listeners.

 A nice listener asked for this audio and she responded:

"Will there be a downside to not having the smart meters installed?
Thought the guest’s answer to whether NWE could control homeowners’ power supply was a little noncommittal.  “No, we’re Montanans and South Dakotans” isn’t very assuring.  I remember things our previous Montana governor did.  Our “real” 5th generation Senator is terrible.  Those are just a couple examples of “we are Montanans so we wouldn’t do anything bad” sounds very weak and suspect."

Do We Have Options? Maybe.

I appreciate the nice lady's response and respect her concern.

1) Opt-out: I hear it's quite a process on the phone with an automated answering system and an employee, but in the end you get your wish.

2) Live with It: Right now all it's doing is monitoring your usage and will report an outage.  If it does restrict your electricity, then you have a real problem.  Otherwise, and let's be honest, your phone is doing better surveillance on you.

a Cropped Household Ceiling Fan.
Credit: stoffies. TSM Media Center

3) Conserve Energy: Back in the 70s, Americans during the Energy Crisis shut off lights and opened the refrigerator only as needed to save energy.  Just watch your use.  The smart meter should love you for that.  And you save money.

4) Solar Panels and/or Windmill: Cut the cord and live off grid.  If you keep the power line, is it still federal law requiring the power company to buy back surplus electricity?

Credit: Annie Spratt, Unsplash
Credit: Annie Spratt, Unsplash

5) Rip the D&#% Meter Off your Property: Please disconnect your service before exercising this option.  Your property is yours, but the meter belongs to the power company.  If this thing is really bugging you, call the company and insist you will no longer tolerate the meter and the utility.  You may want to have Option 4 ready, or install a fireplace and include lots of wood.

My point is, gentle Montanan, you are a free individual who can make a decision.  But as King Solomon said in five words, "There is no Free Lunch."

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