Duke Energy Florida along with its contracted partner, Scope Services, will transition West Volusia County residents from home energy meters to “smart meters” beginning Aug. 12th.

About 69,000 meters will be exchanged for the new technology.

All customers within the designated neighborhoods will receive a notification via a direct mail postcard about two weeks prior to the installation.

The postcard contains the contact information for the area’s designated contractor as well as Duke Energy’s website for any questions or appointment scheduling needs.

Customers do not need to be home to have the meter exchanged, however, if you would like to be home during the installation, call the number on the postcard to make an appointment.

Installations will take place Monday through Friday during normal business hours and a momentary interruption of service will occur. As a result, resetting your clocks may be necessary.

There will also be evening and weekend installations when needed.

“Smart meter” benefits stated on the Duke Energy website include being able to monitor and manage your daily usage, ability to start or stop service remotely without an appointment, easier payment methods and quicker repairs after an outage.

There will be usage alerts automatically sent via email to each resident. There will be “mid-cycle alerts,” which will be sent halfway through the billing cycle via email or text message outlining the actual cost with your appliance usage details. There will also be ‘budget alerts’ which is an optional alert sent via email when the bill is expected to reach a specific dollar amount set by the customer.

Only certified “smart meter” customers have the option to choose which day they want their bill to be due each month with the “Pick Your Due Date” enrollment option.

The controversial new technology has many residents uneasy, though.

A simple Google search will yield the results of the growing numbers of dissenters speaking of the dangers and potential adverse health impacts.

In addition to the health effects, there have been incidents of overbilling, fires, inaccuracy, cybersecurity and privacy loss.

All customers have the option to opt out of the “smart meter” program, but there will be fees.

According to the Duke Energy website,"If customers choose to opt out of having a smart meter installed, a $15.60 monthly fee will be charged to their energy bill (per meter) to cover the cost of manually reading the meter each month. There is also a one-time initial set-up fee of $96.34 (per meter) to replace the current mete with an opt out meter."

None of these charges are applied to those who agree to the installation of the “smart meter.”

The installation project Is scheduled to be completed by April.

To verify the date your postcard was sent or connect with your local contract or to set up an appointment, The Florida Smart Meter Helpline is available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays at (888)-254-4381.

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