Paying to Not Have Smart Meter - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Paying to Not Have Smart Meter

Posted: Updated:
A smart meter A smart meter
Elizabeth Chalker Elizabeth Chalker

Do you have a smart meter on the side of your house? Many people love them, but others are afraid of them and don't want them, and now FPL is telling customers, if you don't let us install the new smart meters, we are going to charge you more each month on your power bill. Can they do that? It's why people across South Florida are calling Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

WSVN -- Florida Power and Light loves the smart meters, which allow a customer to see how much electricity they are using at any time of the day and electronically sends that same information to the power company. But in South Florida, some people blame them for causing fires in their homes.

Woman: "It caught fire and fried my beautiful new kitchen."

Some customers believe that the radio frequency sent from the smart meters is dangerous to their health, and across the country groups have tried to block them from being installed on their homes. Others like Elizabeth Chalker are terrified of the electronic signals the smart meters send out.

Elizabeth Chalker: "Genetic deficiencies with immune system dysfunction. It's a lot of stuff to deal with."

Elizabeth is so sensitive to light, she had to wear sunglasses during our interview, and when a smart meter was installed at her home, she got worse.

Elizabeth Chalker: "The migraines were getting worse, the neurological twitching stuff like that, the insomnia, the bone pain that I have was getting a lot worse."

Elizabeth finally got FPL to replace the smart meter with the older meter.

Elizabeth Chalker: "And those added symptoms that I was having have dissipated."

Elizabeth felt better. Then she got this letter in the mail.

Elizabeth Chalker: "If we choose to have a standard meter that's not a smart meter, that they're going to charge a $95 enrollment fee and an extra $13 a month."

Many people who got that letter requiring them to pay a $95 fee plus $13 a month to not have a smart meter have contacted Help Me Howard in e-mails and phone calls.

Caller: "And I don't think it's fair."

Elizabeth called FPL, explaining the smart meter made her illness worse.

Elizabeth Chalker: "My options are to leave the standard meter I have right now and pay a penalty for protecting my health, or to put the thing that was negatively affecting my health back on my house and knowingly just hurt my health."

Well, Howard, we've all heard of being charged extra for a new product, but can a public utility charge extra for not accepting the newer device?

Howard Finkelstein: "You don't have to allow the utility to attach one to your home, but the Florida Public Service Commission has temporarily ruled that if a customer refuses the smart meter, they have to pay not only an opt out fee, but a monthly fee to offset what FPL says is the additional cost of the old-style meters."

Before cost, let's address safety. FPL says studies have shown the radio frequency that comes from a smart meter is safe.

David McDermitt, FPL: "And they use the same frequency as any number of household equipment or household devices that you use, including a cordless phone, a cell phone."

As for why they charge more to people who don't want to keep the old meter, FPL says, because it costs them more.

David McDermitt: "We now have to retain a group of meter readers that have to cover our 27,000-square-mile service area on a monthly basis, to go out manually read the meters, manually record and report that information to our billing system."

But Howard says, if you don't want to pay more to keep an old meter, you still have a chance.

Howard Finkelstein: "The Public Service Commission is going to conduct hearings in the next few months to determine whether they should finalize the plan to force customers to pay extra if they don't want a smart meter. If you don't, and don't want to pay a monthly fee, call the Public Service Commission and lodge a complaint."

Are the smart meters completely safe? Elizabeth says, do your own research.

Elizabeth Chalker: "Educate yourself and don't just go on by what FPL and somebody says. Look at both sides."

Most people trust smart meters; some don't. If you don't and want the Public Service Commission to block FPL from charging more to not use them, or you want to find out more about smart meters, the link to do both is at the end of this Help Me Howard.

Purchased a problem that has you feeling powerless? Want us to take charge? Contact us. We don't meter our smartness, but we will do our best to shine a light on a solution.

With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Public Service Complaint Form
http://www.psc.state.fl.us/consumers/complaints/index2.aspx

FPL information about smart meters
http://www.fpl.com/energysmart/pdf/facts_about_smart_meters.pdf

http://www.fpl.com/energysmart/pdf/rf.pdf

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:

E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

  • Out for JusticeMore>>

  • Heather Riggio

    Heather Riggio

    Friday, August 8 2014 11:45 PM EDT2014-08-09 03:45:59 GMT
    Heather RiggioHeather Riggio
    She was only 19 years old and made a mistake that many young people do: She started hanging around with the wrong crowd. The next thing her family knew, she was gone. What happened to her? Here is tonight's Out for Justice with Patrick Fraser.
    She was only 19 years old and made a mistake that many young people do: She started hanging around with the wrong crowd. The next thing her family knew, she was gone. What happened to her? Here is tonight's Out for Justice with Patrick Fraser.
  • Alfred McCormick

    Alfred McCormick

    Saturday, July 26 2014 1:00 AM EDT2014-07-26 05:00:26 GMT
    Minister Alfred McCormickMinister Alfred McCormick
    He was a man of God, but early one morning Minister Alfred McCormick was gunned down in the street like a criminal. Maybe because a crook thought he was a crook he was looking for. As Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight's Out For Justice, detectives are determined to find his killer, but they need your help.
    He was a man of God, but early one morning Minister Alfred McCormick was gunned down in the street like a criminal. Maybe because a crook thought he was a crook he was looking for. As Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight's Out For Justice, detectives are determined to find his killer, but they need your help.
  • Qualecia James

    Qualecia James

    Friday, July 11 2014 11:30 PM EDT2014-07-12 03:30:24 GMT
    Qualecia James (right) and her daughterQualecia James (right) and her daughter
    Last March, an afternoon out with friends ended in a barrage of bullets for a pregnant Miami Gardens mother. As Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight's Out for Justice, detectives made an arrest in the case last week, but their work is far from over, and they need your help to bring in the rest of the killers.
    Last March, an afternoon out with friends ended in a barrage of bullets for a pregnant Miami Gardens mother. As Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight's Out for Justice, detectives made an arrest in the case last week, but their work is far from over, and they need your help to bring in the rest of the killers.
  • Carmel on the CaseMore>>

  • Bad Romance: Criminal Casanova Arrested

    Bad Romance: Criminal Casanova Arrested

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 10:54 PM EDT2014-08-20 02:54:12 GMT
    Frank Amanti Frank Amanti
    Two women say they've been used by a seasoned South Florida felon known for breaking hearts and the law. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
    Two women say they've been used by a seasoned South Florida felon known for breaking hearts and the law. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
  • Escort service busted from within

    Escort service busted from within

    Wednesday, August 13 2014 10:34 AM EDT2014-08-13 14:34:17 GMT
    34-year-old Joshua Rubenstein and 58-year-old Doug Juiffre34-year-old Joshua Rubenstein and 58-year-old Doug Juiffre
    Two South Florida men are locked up tonight, arrested in connection with the operation of an escort service, and just one reporter was there from the beginning of a case that could be the first of its kind. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero with the exclusive.
    Two South Florida men are locked up tonight, arrested in connection with the operation of an escort service, and just one reporter was there from the beginning of a case that could be the first of its kind. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero with the exclusive.
  • Paver Projects at Trash Sites Raise Questions

    Paver Projects at Trash Sites Raise Questions

    Tuesday, August 5 2014 10:41 PM EDT2014-08-06 02:41:41 GMT
    It cost Miami-Dade County $768,062 to put these pavers in three of the county's 13 trash sites. It cost Miami-Dade County $768,062 to put these pavers in three of the county's 13 trash sites.
    WSVN -- Miami-Dade County is looking at deep cuts to balance the budget, so why was money spent to make dump sites look better? Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
    WSVN -- Miami-Dade County is looking at deep cuts to balance the budget, so why was money spent to make dump sites look better? Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
  • 7News InvestigationMore>>

  • Captain of Controversy

    Captain of Controversy

    Capt. Francesco SchettinoCapt. Francesco Schettino
    In Italy this week, the captain of the Costa Concordia began pre-trial hearings he hopes will convince a judge that the deadly shipwreck was an accident and not a crime. Earlier this year, investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero traveled to Italy for an exclusive interview with Captain Schettino and now has a special assignment report on what he will be telling the court.
    In Italy this week, the captain of the Costa Concordia began pre-trial hearings he hopes will convince a judge that the deadly shipwreck was an accident and not a crime. Earlier this year, investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero traveled to Italy for an exclusive interview with Captain Schettino and now has a special assignment report on what he will be telling the court.
  • Till Death Do Us Part

    Till Death Do Us Part

    Thursday, November 7 2013 11:54 PM EST2013-11-08 04:54:26 GMT
    Alejandra Apraez said her wedding was ruined when the florist she hired did not show up. Alejandra Apraez said her wedding was ruined when the florist she hired did not show up.
    There is very little that will match a bride's wedding day -- a day, months, even years in the planning -- and one South Florida woman's wedding was ruined when the florist didn't show up. Why? A death ... but was there a death? Tonight, investigative reporter Patrick Fraser has the amazing story in a report we call "Till Death Do Us Part."
    There is very little that will match a bride's wedding day -- a day, months, even years in the planning -- and one South Florida woman's wedding was ruined when the florist didn't show up. Why? A death ... but was there a death? Tonight, investigative reporter Patrick Fraser has the amazing story in a report we call "Till Death Do Us Part."
  • Blackwater Fever

    Blackwater Fever

    It was a terrible form of malaria that killed two men. Turning their internal organs black. In south Florida we have almost wiped malaria out but now the concern -- it's spreading around us and could hit us. As...
    It was a terrible form of malaria that killed two men. Turning their internal organs black. In south Florida we have almost wiped malaria out but now the concern -- it's spreading around us and could hit us. As Patrick...
  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Miami family prays son will be released by ISIS

    Miami family prays son will be released by ISIS

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 8:10 PM EDT2014-08-21 00:10:49 GMT
    PINECREST, Fla. -- A South Florida family is praying that their son, who is allegedly being held by ISIS militants, will be safely released and returned home.
    PINECREST, Fla. -- A South Florida family is praying that their son, who is allegedly being held by ISIS militants, will be safely released and returned home.
  • 20-year-old left paralyzed after home invasion by teens

    20-year-old left paralyzed after home invasion by teens

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 7:02 PM EDT2014-08-20 23:02:50 GMT
    20-year-old Brian Perez20-year-old Brian Perez
    MIAMI -- The mother of a young man is sharing her sorrow and outrage after her son was shot in a barrage of bullets during a home invasion, and police believe those responsible are only 15 years old.
    MIAMI -- The mother of a young man is sharing her sorrow and outrage after her son was shot in a barrage of bullets during a home invasion, and police believe those responsible are only 15 years old.

  • Texas pitcher returns home to face childhood team

    Texas pitcher returns home to face childhood team

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 6:53 PM EDT2014-08-20 22:53:49 GMT
    Texas Rangers pitcher Nick MartinezTexas Rangers pitcher Nick Martinez
    MIAMI -- Nick Martinez, a former shortstop from local high school Belen Jesuit, made his Miami debut Wednesday afternoon when he took the mound against his childhood team.
    MIAMI -- Nick Martinez, a former shortstop from local high school Belen Jesuit, made his Miami debut Wednesday afternoon when he took the mound against his childhood team.
  • Help Me HowardMore>>

  • $3.3 Million Lien on House

    $3.3 Million Lien on House

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 11:39 AM EDT2014-08-19 15:39:17 GMT
    The duplex that Victoria Berquist inherited from her parents.The duplex that Victoria Berquist inherited from her parents.
    When her disabled parents died, she inherited their home and a $3.3 million lien they didn't know about. Why? Because they didn't plant some grass and a hedge. Now, is she stuck paying it? It's why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
    When her disabled parents died, she inherited their home and a $3.3 million lien they didn't know about. Why? Because they didn't plant some grass and a hedge. Now, is she stuck paying it? It's why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
  • Palms Cut Down

    Palms Cut Down

    Wednesday, August 13 2014 10:46 PM EDT2014-08-14 02:46:27 GMT
    You have probably seen it before. FPL sends its crews out to cut the limbs that are in the power lines, but how about this? Cutting down nine palm trees, some in the yard, not near a power line. Can they do this? It's why one South Florida homeowner called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
    You have probably seen it before. FPL sends its crews out to cut the limbs that are in the power lines, but how about this? Cutting down nine palm trees, some in the yard, not near a power line. Can they do this? It's why one South Florida homeowner called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
  • Dangerous Dogs

    Dangerous Dogs

    Monday, August 11 2014 11:12 PM EDT2014-08-12 03:12:10 GMT
    Your neighbor's dogs attack and kill your pet. Nothing happens. Then you watch as they attack and nearly kill your other dog, and you are told nothing can be done. Can dogs be allowed to kill other animals? It's why one woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
    Your neighbor's dogs attack and kill your pet. Nothing happens. Then you watch as they attack and nearly kill your other dog, and you are told nothing can be done. Can dogs be allowed to kill other animals? It's why one woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Powered by WorldNow

WSVN-TV
Sunbeam Television Corp
1401 79th Street Causeway
Miami, FL 33141

Switchboard: (305) 751-6692
Newsroom: (305) 795-2777

Can't find something?
Connect with us here:
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WSVN. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.