Washington Electric Cooperative (WEC) will be the third Vermont electric utility to deploy smart meters, following Central Vermont Public Service and Green Mountain Power. The installation is proceeding despite the state legislature recently approving a bill prohibiting utilities from charging an opt-out fee until at least July 2013.
C-op general manager Avram Patt reports that WEC opted for meters that use the electrical wires to send data instead of radio frequency transmissions, which are still the source of controversy among some members of the public because of concerns over perceived health risks. Avram says the wired solution costs half as much as the RF technology and happens to be more effective in WEC’s rural terrain.
Vermont Electric Cooperative’s deployment also is of a wired system similar to what WEC intends to use when installation begins in June. Burlington Electric, on the other hand, is using wireless technology.
Vermont’s deployment is part of the Obama administration’s $3.5 billion effort to modernize the United States’ electric grid infrastructure, Vermont has received $69 million for the roll-out of smart meter technology throughout the state. WEC manager Patt considers the meter a vital tool even if they have been used as a political football at times.