Written by Walter Pierce

             Eugene opted out.

Lafayette residents who fear that “smart meters” will sap their vitality, scramble their brains or otherwise render them incapable of living rich, fulfilling, private lives will have to pay a smidgen over $12 per month to keep one foot in the 20th century.

Lafayette Utility Systems is recommending that customers who opt out of the program pay $12.20 per month for the luxury of having a human manually read their water and electric meters. LUS began converting to so-called smart meters — meters that transmit utility-usage data remotely and consequently don’t require monthly visits from meter readers — in an effort to spy on, sorry, an effort to promote efficiency. Proponents say the new meters will also detect abnormalities in usage that can signal leaking water pipes or dangerous electrical situations, helping customers reduce their utility bills and not die. The meters are being installed through a Smart Grid Investment Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Smart meters came under attack from the Tin Foil Brigade as soon as they were announced, and in February the City-Parish Council approved an ordinance letting customers opt out of having the meters installed at their homes and businesses. According to an LUS memorandum sent to council members earlier this month, about 430 LUS customers opted out. That’s fewer than one percent of LUS customers. So there’s that.

The council on Tuesday will vote on an introductory ordinance that sets the opt-out fee at $12.20 per month beginning with the start of the fiscal year on Nov. 1. The ordinance also stipulates that the monthly opt-out fee is more or less an estimate of what it will cost the public utility to keep meter readers on the payroll and that the fee can be adjusted after LUS gets a true cost history of the opt-out program.

The annual cost to opt out of the smart meter program comes to $146.40, which is just enough the cover the price of Team Leader’s Floor Warden Emergency Unit survival kit. Something to think about, what with the Zombie Apocalypse and all.

At $129.95, the kit includes:

 The Team Leader® Floor Warden Emergency Unit survival kit
features the write stuff: a golf pencil, a grease pencil and chalk!

* Extra Large Backpack
* 21 oz Water Bottle
* Knee Pads - XL
*  Chemical Goggles Vented Anti Fog
* Red “Danger” Caution Tape 3”x 300”
* Barricade Tape 300” (Caution)
* Flashlight - uses “D” size batteries
* Alkaline D size Batteries (Pair)
* Hard hat - White
* 14 N 1 Pocket Tool
*  Brass Whistle w/ Lanyard
* Utility knife
* Flat fold n95 dust mask - single
* Heavy Duty Work Gloves
* Duct Tape 60 Yds x 2”
* Mighty Mega Mite Bull Horn
* “C” Size Batteries (Pair)
* Clipboard
* Golf Pencil
* Single Sheet Protector
* Safety Vest P-HI7 w/ Clear Legend
* 15” Pry Bar
*  White Rope-1/4 x 50” Nylon
* Distress Banner (15”x36”) with Poly Bag
* The Sound Horn
* AM/FM Radio w/ Battery & Light
* Adult Poncho
* Mayday Large Solar Blanket 84” x 52”
* Light Stick - 12 Hour Green
* Light Stick (Yellow) 30 Min High Intensity
* Lumber Crayon
* Grease Pencil
* Chalk
* 10” Adjustable Wrench

First Aid Kit Contains:
* Blood Stopper Trauma Dressing
* 2 - 1”x10 Yds Surgical Tape
* 4 - Single Pair of Nitrile Gloves
* 2 - Ice Pak (Small) 5”x6”
* 5x9 Combine Dressing Surgical
* Hydrogen Peroxide 2oz Bottle
* 4 - 3 x 3 Sterile Gauze Pads
* 3 - 4 x 4 Sterile Gauze Pads
* 64 Page First Aid Guide
* CPR Mouthpiece - Pro Valve

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