Alliant Energy Smart Meter installation creates outrage in Slater

Andrew Gogerty, Contributing Writer

“The issue I have with Alliant Energy is that I thought you did a poor job of notifying people ahead of time. I didn’t see one thing in my mailings stating that Slater was going to be getting meters installed the last week of November. The notification was very poor.” —Slater Mayor John Kahler’

Citizens of Slater packed City Hall for its December meeting to express their displeasure with Alliant Energy and the recent installation of smart meters across the city of Slater and surrounding communities.

The four areas of concern noted by area residents, along with Mayor Kahler and a portion of the council, included concerns of privacy, safety, health, and poor communication on the part of Alliant Energy prior to the installation of the smart meters.

LuAnn Geddes, resident of nearby Kelley, gave a spirited speech to local Alliant account representatives who were on-hand to answer questions. Geddes explained concerns about morality and dishonesty on the part of Alliant Energy, violation of privacy, a potential increase in utility bills, EMF transmissions and their impact on neurological health, and concerns about Alliant Energy’s partnership with Google Analytics as a way of gathering and selling third-party information.

All of the installations have been finished across town. Most of them caught residents off guard and created mass confusion surrounding opt-out procedures.

“My question is, if we had the opportunity to opt out, when were we notified of that?” asked Councilman Ken May. “We weren’t notified at all before meters appeared on our property.”

Alliant representatives responded saying that notification “should have” happened, with their understanding that there were two mailings sent out, prior to installation. May, and many other citizens who were present, said they never received those notices.

“I have two offices (one in Huxley and one in Slater) and a home, and I never received a notice that meters were going to be changed out,” said May.

Slater Mayor John Kahler expressed his own list of concerns, including “penalties” proposed by Alliant Energy for opting out of the smart meter installation.

“I don’t like the fact that, if I want to opt-out of this (smart meter installation), they want to charge me fifteen dollars to read my own meter,” said Kahler.

Alliant Energy representatives stated that the new meters will continue to be read, physically, by company employees until the system is up and running. Alliant Energy anticipates late summer or early fall of 2019 for complete implementation of signal transmission of the meters.

Understanding that there is little which can be done at this point, the City of Slater plans to craft a letter to the Iowa Utility Board to complain about Alliant Energy’s procedures with the smart meter installation.

“We specifically requested that your company be here to talk to us before those meters got installed, and that never happened,” said councilman May. “There is obviously vocal opposition to them being installed. I think the Iowa Utilities Board is the only body that has any power to do anything at this point. They might pay a little attention to a city that has a complaint about how the whole thing was instituted. I make a motion that we send a letter.”