Many customers of Green Mountain Power received notice recently that they were being switched to a new metering system, GMPConnects, also known as smart grid technology.

The letter that went to customers earlier this month notes that the new metering will provide constant feedback between your home or business and GMP so that the company can better monitor power quality and interruptions.

Customers are notified that they may opt out of the program, but doing so will require paying extra because now the meter reader will still have to come to the home or business.

A call to GMP for more information about the program yielded the information that the smart grid would be able to let customers know how much any particular appliance was using, but not immediately.

Only in the future, as new appliances are built with specific chips in them that talk to the smart meter outside the house or office, will anyone know how much power their fridge, washer, dryer, freezer or dishwasher are using.

The cost of opting out is $10 a month – every month, 12 times a year – even though Green Mountain Power currently sends a person to read the meter only every other month.

What about the jobs of the people who read the meter? They are secure for now; there may be some loss of jobs in the future but not right away. Kind of like the appliances – in the future.

Also in the future, according to the literature, is “access in the future to new innovative electric rate programs providing the opportunity for associated cost savings.” Nothing specific is explained.

The Vermont Public Service Board has approved this program; be prepared. The only thing left to be determined is what fee low-income households will pay should those customers choose to opt out of the smart meter technology. That is still before the public service board.

Hard to determine if this is really necessary technology. Privacy rights activists are concerned that it amounts to unreasonable monitoring. Health concerns about the impacts of the meters have been raised.

Do we need new meters to tell us when the power is out? Or can we just call GMP on our cell phones or landlines and let them know?