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Smart electric meters are coming to region

Pacific Power is currently installing smart meters throughout Oregon. I remember reading that the city of Ashland was not going to allow smart meters. Is this true? How can Ashland stop Pacific Power? What about the rest of us who may not want a smart meter?

— Al Z., via email

First of all, Al, Ashland runs its own utility system, so it's not part of Pacific Power.

Ashland does have an ongoing program of installing smart meters that send out a radio signal to a meter reader. So far, 5,000 meters out of the 12,000 in Ashland have the radio signal capability to determine electric usage. However, the meters are not connected to the internet or to Wi-Fi.

In case you're interested, a cellphone generates 5,000 microwatts when held against your ear, and a smart meter puts out 40 microwatts from 3 feet away, according to the California Council on Science and Technology.

Ashland is apparently ahead of the curve when it comes to radio meters.

Pacific Power will begin installing radio meters in June and early July in Southern Oregon, planning to replace some 85,000 meters in Jackson County and 50,000 in Josephine County, according to Monte Mendenhall, spokesman for the utility company.

"They haven't been installed yet in Southern Oregon," he said.

We're guessing that you don't want one of these new meters, Al, and Pacific Power has the ability to opt out of the program.

You can go online to www.pacificpower.net/ya/smart-meters/faq0.html to read more about opting out, though we should warn you that there will be a fee charged on a monthly basis if you decided to opt out. You can also call 1-866-869-8520 to get more information about the fee and the opt-out feature.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.