Friday, Nov. 4, 2011 | 5:01 p.m.
Customers of NV Energy will have a chance next month to air their gripes or support for the controversial smart meter program. The meters already have been installed in more than 500,000 homes in Las Vegas.
Last month, the state Public Utilities Commission voted to open an investigation after hearing complaints from users.
It has now set Dec. 6 for a workshop, and the company and residents will have a chance to present their sides of the issue.
NV Energy began installing the meters earlier this year in the Las Vegas area, and its sister company, Sierra Pacific Power Co. of Reno, plans to start putting them in homes and businesses next month in Northern Nevada.
Consumers who want to participate in the workshop must submit written comments by noon Nov. 18. NV Energy must file written comments by noon Dec. 2.
Customers have complained the meters are harmful to health. Critics maintain the units transmit electromagnetic radiation that can be harmful to some people.
The utility says the radio frequency signal is transmitted an average of five seconds a day. By comparison, cell phones transmit constantly and at close range, NV Energy says.
Smart meters transmit electric-use data directly to the billing department of the utility. They also allow customers to view their daily power use and patterns.
The workshop will be at the commission’s office at 9075 West Diablo Drive, Suite 250, in Las Vegas and will be conducted via teleconference at the commission’s Carson City office.
In recommending the investigation, Commissioner Rebecca Wagner said she wanted to see if customers could refuse to have smart meters installed and to look into health and privacy issues.