64°F
weather icon Clear

PUC to hear NV Energy smart meters concerns

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada is set to begin hearing consumer complaints about NV Energy’s new smart meters.

And if public comments are any indication, that discussion, scheduled for Tuesday, will revolve around worries over health and cybersecurity.

NV Energy is swapping out 1.45 million conventional meters statewide with digital meters, which use radio-frequency identification chips similar to those in cellphones and Wi-Fi routers, to send power-use information directly to the utility. The company, which claims the NV Energize program would save $35 million a year in operating costs, has installed nearly 600,000 smart meters across Southern Nevada.

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada approved the meter rollout in July 2010 after hearings into NV Energize. The commission studied evidence on the plan’s customer-privacy and cybersecurity measures, as well as radio-frequency output, costs and budget risks. NV Energy is using $138 million in federal stimulus money to help cover the $301 million program’s expense.

But the commission decided in October to give ratepayers another chance to comment in writing on the meters after some expressed concern about electromagnetic waves and potential security breaches.

By Friday, about 130 consumers had submitted written statements opposing the meters, including at least two dozen who filed the same pre-written "moratorium petition." The petition called the meters’ radio-frequency waves a cancer-causing agent and said the devices are a fire danger, and asked that customers who don’t want the meters be allowed to keep their conventional meter. About 1,400 ratepayers have asked to at least postpone smart-meter installation.

Other consumers blamed smart meters for health problems including ringing of the ears, skin cancer, hair loss, wrinkles, strokes, brain-cell death and Alzheimer’s disease. Some said they were concerned about smart meters’ vulnerability to hacking and identity theft.

The Bureau of Consumer Protection, which represents ratepayers, also commented. The agency’s concerns revolved around ratepayer privacy, how NV Energy would use information about power consumption and whether the utility would sell those details to third parties.

NV Energy filed a 383-page response on Friday afternoon. The filing notes that radio-frequency waves from smart meters are lower than naturally occurring levels released by the Earth or the human body. Emissions from microwave ovens are 120 times greater, while levels from cell phones are as much as 5,000 times greater, the filing said. Smart-meter emissions also "fall significantly below" Federal Communications Commission standards and do not pose a major health risk, the statement said.

NV Energy also pointed out that the commission’s 2010 hearing into smart meters found that the devices’ technology is reliable and accurate. In accuracy tests by the University of Nevada, Reno the failure rate on installed meters is less than 0.23 percent.

On the consumer-protection side, NV Energy said it’s one of a handful of utilities nationwide that has included meter encryption for a more secure network. The company added that it developed the first smart-meter cybersecurity plan formally approved by the U.S. Department of Energy. Plus; it uses customer information only for its own billing purposes; and does not give customer details to third parties, per the commission’s Consumer Bill of Rights.

The commission will discuss the filings at 10 a.m. Tuesday in its offices at 9075 W. Diablo Drive, Suite 250. The public is welcome to attend, but the commission will accept only written comments from workshop participants.

The commission has a Web page with information about smart meters. Visit puc.nv.gov and click on the "Smart Meters" option in the menu on the left.

To submit comments for the workshop, deliver a written statement in person or via mail to the commission. Consumers can also file statements electronically by going to the commission’s website, clicking on "Administration" and choosing the "Electronic Filing System" option.

Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at jrobison@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
How much do Las Vegas casino CEOs make?
Las Vegas gaming CEOs made anywhere between $1 million and $24 million last year, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ((Las Vegas Review-Journal)
30-year-old Rio needs a little TLC
Nearly 30 years after the Rio opened, the red and blue jewel that helped catapult Las Vegas to a new level with its buffet and nightclub has lost its status along with its shine.
The latest on the Drew Las Vegas - VIDEO
Eli Segall recounts his tour of the Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinball Hall of Fame to move near south Strip
Operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame have been approved to build a new, larger arcade near the south edge of the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard near Russel Road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
National Hardware Show underway Las Vegas
The National Hardware Show kicked off Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Caesars for sale?
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been swept up in takeover speculation since the company’s share price tumbled last year amid disappointing earnings and concerns over a recession. Amid the decline, hedge funds scooped up shares. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn began buying shares of Caesars as early as January. Icahn acquired nearly 18 percent by mid-March. In February Icahn called on the Caesars board to study a sale as a way to boost shareholder value.
Las Vegas home prices
Las Vegas home prices grew fastest among major markets in February for the ninth straight month. But amid affordability concerns, the growth rate has slowed down. Southern Nevada prices in February were up 9.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. The last time Las Vegas' price growth fell below 10% was in September 2017, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported.
Free Parking Coming To Wynn
Free parking will come to the Wynn and Encore resorts on May 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Founding Venetian employees talk about 20 years at the Strip resort
The Venetian, which opened May 3, 1999, is celebrating 20 years on the Las Vegas Strip. Seven original employees talk about opening the luxury resort and working there for two decades. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Circa aiming for December 2020 opening
The 1.25-million-square-foot property will have 44-stories and 777-rooms. It will also have a separate nine-story, 1,201-space parking garage.
Boxabl official explains the building concept
Boxabl business development manager Galiano Tiramani shows off a room built by his company. (Blake Apgar/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TI/Mirage Tram reopens
The tram that shuttles guests between TI and Mirage reopened this week after being closed for much of 2018.
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST