Ameren customers refusing to upgrade meters to pay more on monthly bill

DECATUR - Ameren Illinois has announced that customers who do not want to have a new electricity meter installed will see a $20 increase in their monthly bills.

According to Ameren Illinois, the new "smart meters" can be read remotely, and allows the company to pinpoint outage problems and fix the faster.  The company also says the additional $20 customers could see on their bill covers the cost of sending a person out to read the older analog meter.

The Illinois Commerce Commission agrees with Ameren Illinois, saying the company should be compensated for meters that require an employee to visit them.  The commission also approved a $70 onetime "exchange fee" for customers who make the switch to the "smart meter," but later change their minds.

Those who oppose the new meters say they pose a health risk through their communication signals and that the transmission of power usage is a breach of privacy.  However, Ameren rejects the health risk argument, and says the information being transferred is too general to be seen as an invasion of privacy,

Approximately 780,000 "smart meters" are expected to be installed in central Illinois, alongside 468,000 similarly-upgraded gas meters.
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