(NaturalNews) A new measure that has been passed out of a Texas Senate committee and is set to be debated by the full chamber would allow residents of the state to opt-out of having to use an automated electric meter.
The measure, SB241, would also require "a study on the health effects of advanced meters," according to the Texas legislative website, and prohibit disclosure of a residential electric customer's personal billing information.
"There are serious health concerns with regard to the use of advanced, automated, radiative electric meters vs. the standard analog non-radiative meters. See Bioinitiative.org," says, in part, a standardized letter Texas voters can send to their individual senator. "The advanced meters emit high frequency RF and Microwave radiation and many children and adults who are medically sensitive experience headaches, sleeplessness, and electrical skin sensations when exposed in their homes.
"Please allow Texans the choice and right to NOT be irradiated in their own homes and do not charge extra punitive fees for opting out. Additional fees would put an unfair burden on those of low income and would potentially prevent them out of opting out," the letter says.
Residents should have a choice
The measure was introduced by Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas. A summary of the bill on his website says the so-called "smart meters transmit real time information to electric providers and consumers without physical meter reading. Some consumers prefer not to have the smart meters for a variety of reasons including privacy concerns."
"On Thursday, May 2, the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce reconsidered the vote on SB 241. SB 241 allows consumers to opt-out of installation of advanced meters, or 'smart meters,' by electric utilities," Carona said in an email statement. "SB 241 passed the Committee with a vote of 5-2, and it will soon be eligible for consideration by the full Senate. I appreciate the grassroots effort supporting passage of this bill out of committee and want to thank all of you who spent your personal time working toward that goal," he continued. "Advancing the bill further will be an uphill battle, but I look forward to continuing to move SB 241 through the legislative process."
According to the Senate website, the measure is set for debate May 7.
A report by NBC Dallas/Fort Worth said the measure comes just a few months after one of the state's power companies, Oncor, finished installing millions of smart meters in the North Texas region.
"We started our rollout in 2009 and finished in 2012. And we've been trying to educate our customers ever since," said Jeamy Molina, a spokeswoman for Oncor. The company has installed about 3.2 million smart meters over that period of time.
Carona says his measure aims to address the scores of complaints and concerns he's heard from customers. They have ranged from fear of health problems from the signals the meters emit (to electronically send data to power companies), and private property rights.
Legislation is in response to growing concerns
"It's mainly people perceiving there is a health issue. And in terms of respecting individual rights, and the strong feeling people have that they should be able to control what is attached to their home, in this case, the meter, this legislation is in response to that," he told the local NBC affiliate.
In addition to its other provisions, residents who wished to have their smart meter removed would have to pay a fee.
"If you choose to opt out, you can do so. Now you have to pay a reasonable cost for doing so, because there is a cost where the meters have already been installed, and there is an ongoing cost to manually continue to read your meter as opposed to it being done electronically, which is one of the features of a smart meter," said Corona, adding he wasn't sure what the fee would be.
Terry Hadley, a spokesman for the Public Utility Commission in Austin, is already looking at how to implement an opt-out plan and what sort of fee would be appropriate.
If you want to voice your support for this legislation, the Texas state Senate directory is here