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Marshfield to start installing "smart meters" soon

MARSHFIELD, WI (WSAU) - Installation of controversial “smart meters” has started in Marshfield, but interim utility director Bob Trussoni says there may soon be an “opt-out” option available for residents who think the new technology presents health and privacy concerns.

According to Trussoni, “We’ve had a handful of them (residents) that have asked for it, and what we’re doing is keeping a list as we go along so we know how many people are interested in that. Then, at some point we will approach the Public Service Commission and ask them for an ‘opt-out’ rate. But we need to know how many people are going to do it so we know how much extra that’s going to cost. Then our intent is that the cost would be distributed among those people that want the ‘opt-out’ rate. So there will be an extra charge if they don’t want the meter.”The new meters use radio frequency technology to read and monitor both water and electric utility usage, and Trussoni says they’ll facilitate the early discovery of service problems while saving on money and manpower. Those opposing installation of the smart meters say utility service is a basic necessity, and it shouldn’t come with risks that they believe are present with the new technology. The project is expected to cost Marshfield Utilities a total of around $2.4 million-dollars, and it will take 3 years to fully install the meters throughout the city.