Who's walking through your backyard? FirstEnergy installing smart meters in Summit County communities

Krista S. Kano
Akron Beacon Journal

Munroe Falls residents have been calling City Hall with concerns about strangers walking through their backyards, but city officials say that it's just FirstEnergy installing smart meters. 

According to the company's website, Ohio Edison, Toledo Edison and The Illuminating Co. are working on a three-year investment to "modernize the electric distribution system in Ohio with advanced automation equipment, real-time voltage controls and the installation of 700,000 smart meters."

Through August, smart meters also will be installed in Akron, Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Macedonia, Mogadore, Northfield, Norton, Peninsula, Silver Lake, Stow, Tallmadge and Twinsburg.

Smart meters will cost less than $3 per month for a typical residential customer and will appear as part of the "customer charge," which also includes costs for billing, equipment and maintenance. This charge was approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, company spokesperson Lauren Siburkis said. 

"Our smart meter technology offers a variety of benefits to customers. They reduce the number of estimated bills through automated readings, help us more quickly respond to power outages, and help customers learn more about their energy use," she said. 

Wellington Energy is the installation vender, and installers should be carrying proper identification. In addition to mailings, customers should receive an automated phone call 24-48 hours prior to installation and a call from the installer on the day of the appointment. 

Customers can decline smart readers, but would then be charged a monthly fee of $28.29 for someone to manually read the meter. There also is a one-time upfront charge of $41.72 to remove the smart meter and install a non-communicating meter. If you opt out before the smart meter is installed, the upfront charge does not apply. 

For more information, visit https://www.firstenergycorp.com/help/smart-meters/oh-smartmeter.html

Akron Beacon Journal reporter Betty Lin-Fisher contributed to this report. Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-635-7546, kkano@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.