It’s been more than a year since the City of Ottawa decided to replace the mechanical utility meters with smart meters, and some residents are posting fliers stating the smart meters pose a health threat.

Smart meters use wireless technology to transmit utility usage to the utility department — replacing the standard mechanical meter. Utilities director Dennis Tharp said the decision to change to smart meters was well researched and it was time to progress to updated technology.

“It’s called automatic metering infrastructure (AMI),” Tharp said. “We have been installing those for about a year and a half. We currently have about 1,200 between water and electric. We had substantial discussion about this for about a year before we starting putting them out. It’s new technology and all of us know that life doesn’t stand still. We were ready to replace meters and it would have been remiss on our part to go back with electromechanical right now simply because by the time we got that done, we probably wouldn’t have been able to get parts for them.”

Fliers circulated in Ottawa claim that the smart meters are a health hazard due to the frequency causing headaches, ringing in the ears or heart palpitations. It also claims the new technology is inaccurate and that personal data could be compromised.

Tharp said with any new technology there will be people who are against it, but he said it was the right time to make the switch.

“I think everybody understands, that no matter what happens — and we can throw all kinds of examples of things that are bad for us or things that we shouldn’t do, whether it be things that we eat or what we breathe — somebody’s going to say it is bad for us,” he said. “Apparently we have some people that are putting that information out there, and everybody is entitled to their opinion. What we know is what we put on our website. It was put there to dispel those myths.”

A video was posted on the city’s website on Tuesday that addresses the issues of accuracy, health, data, safety to property and privacy.

Tharp said smart meters are not new technology. He said AMI infrastructure has been used in other areas for nearly a decade.

“We made the decision that both financially and from a parts standpoint, it made sense to go to this electronic technology,” he said. “There’s always someone that’s going to refute the information, and honestly I’m surprised we have not seen it before this. We did our best from the outset to get information out there and let people know what we were doing.”

The video about smart meters can be found at https://www.ottawaks.gov/single-post/2018/06/26/MYTHS-VS-FACTS-THE-TRUTH-ABOUT-SMART-METERS.