by Brian Rudnick

PECO is replacing the existing electric meters in the neighborhood with new remote controlled smart meters using Radio Frequency (RF) transmission. Installer Peter Paige stopped by one morning, as scheduled, to make the 15 to 20 minute switch-out at our house.

This is the process: Wearing fire resistant clothing, Paige first dons personal protective equipment: a hood, helmet and goggles to guard against a flash which might occur should he touch a live spot inside the box. He credits the protective gear with saving him on more than one occasion!

Paige then records the old meter number and reading and the new meter number and reading on a multifunctional, handheld electronic device. Then pulling off the old meter, the lights in our utility room and house go out. With a helmet-mounted lamp lighting the box, he tests the voltage. Trilling sounds indicate it’s OK. He snaps in the new meter and attaches a seal; its thin gauge wire can be cut but if it is discovered so, will indicate tampering.

With the handheld, Paige then takes photos of the old meter. Melting, burning or char on the plastic back of the old meter will indicate an electrical problem that a special PECO team will follow up on. And lastly he beams a red light at the meter to activate it.

And it’s on to the next job. Paige says his appointment team can do up to 15 or 20 or more on a good day.

The smart meter allows PECO to turn it off in case of either emergency or delinquency. The new meter also has a sensor that detects overheating, surges or other improper conditions, can signal PECO and can shut itself down. Soon, a website will be available for customers to monitor and analyze their electric usage and achieve savings.

A “New Metering Technology” handout Paige provides explains that the new meters are being installed in accordance with the requirements of Pennsylvania Act 129 of 2008. In addition to the quick detection and correction of problems, the new technology is expected to provide the basis for new products and services. The handout also addresses consumer concerns about the level of Radio Frequency (RF) emitted by the meter and potential concerns about the privacy and security of the information captured.

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  • PhillyGuy36

    Be sure to disconnect all electronic devices prior to the switchover. I believe some of my devices were damaged by a voltage surge when the power restarted.

    • Bob

      Your “theory” of a surge is not a valid one. There is nothing in this procedure that can cause a surge, from a scientific standpoint.

  • Cindy

    As part of a ‘mesh network’ these meters will pulse a radio frequency signal up to 19,000 times per day, 24/7, as they collect your data, communicate with other meters on other homes, and transmit data to a collector box on a pole near some of our homes.

    The World Health Organization classifies rf as a possible carcinogen.
    The FCC standards for rf only take into account the heating effects of microwave radiation, and those standards were determined in 1996. The FCC is currently taking comments regarding the need to update these standards.

    In a recent radio show, when asked about the dangers of the rf signal on the people in their homes, the spokesperson for PECO says…”but the meter is positioned on the outside of your home…
    typically on a corner of a home, where you’re not standing next to it”

    These meters are costly, around $400 each, plus installation costs, compared to the old reliable analog meter that can be purchased for $40.
    These meters are also very vulnerable to being hacked into and can be shut down remotely. As part of this new technology, software start-ups are creating systems to handle the tremendous amount of data that will have to be collected and stored for each of our accounts. This data will be kept in a database for a long time, similar to what the NSA is doing now.

    Many of us in PA (and in many other states) are against these meters being forced on us. PECO says there is no opt-out, yet there is no legal basis for requiring that we have these meters on our homes w/o our consent.

    • redrocklass

      It’s actually 190,000 times per day – that 19,000 must have been a typo.

      • Cindy

        Thank you. I changed it. I wrote that from memory, and 19K seemed quite high enough, but yes, it’s 190K!

    • Bob

      Nothing about chemtrails or Obama’s birth certificate? I’m very disappointed.

  • California Gal

    So, these PECO installers are pulling the meters off “live”, without turning off the power? How stupid. No wonder they’re dressed for fire. And they can fit more meters in if they don’t go through the extra steps, though that time is probably eaten up in having to gear up for each install.
    This exposes the installers to hazards, but then PECO, in hiring non-electricians, doesn’t care and doesn’t tell them. I wonder if PECO took out “dead peasant” life insurance on all the contractors?
    If perchance there is arcing when they’re pulling off the meters, hopefully there are no gas leaks around or dry brush nearby. Amazing.

  • sinnersswing

    wont be long they be divvying up energy . just in case your late on peco . . . .

  • sinnersswing

    the meter is easily replaceable like a socket or fuse .

    and they dont like competition

  • sinnersswing

    “”And it’s on to the next job. Paige says his appointment team can do up to 15 or 20 or more on a good day.”” Peco worker

    Any able body could change out double what peco is doing . “”On a good day “”