SMART meters will start being rolled out in Ballarat in the coming weeks – but not everybody is thrilled about it.
Delacombe and Sebastopol homes are due to start having the controversial smart meters installed as early as next week.
It is expected the suburbs of Ballarat North, Invermay, Smythes Creek, Buninyong and Brown Hill will be fitted by Christmas.
Ballarat is one of the last areas in the state to receive the compulsory roll-out and, as has been the case in a number of other towns and cities, there is expected to be some resistance from residents.
Areas including Daylesford, Horsham, Frankston and Bairnsdale have all fought against the meters, with some local councils even fighting for them not to be deemed compulsory.
Ever since the concept of the smart meters was introduced there have been issues raised about possible health effects, privacy concerns, higher bills and installation safety.
One of the Ballarat residents leading the resistance against smart meters is Christine Crawford.
Mrs Crawford has been opposed to smart meters for years.
At her Cardigan Village home she has padlocked her power box to prevent Powercor installing the new meters and has even put up a sign to warn against prosecution if people trespass on her land.
“We just flat-out don’t want it,” she said.
“There are concerns about radiation, especially when these things are running 24 hours a day.
“As we saw in the media there is also the worry about our privacy. We don’t want people knowing if we are home or not.”
In Daylesford a group has also been fighting the compulsory installation of smart meters.
At a Hepburn Shire Council meeting last week Councillor Bill McLenaghan put forward a motion to request the government to not make the meters mandatory.
It was knocked back by the council, but as Central Highlands Group Against Smart Meters founder Joanne McCombe said, it was an issue that people knew nothing about six months ago.
“We want to create the awareness that a lot of people don’t want these on their house and that you should not have to if you don’t want to,” she said.
The debate about the safety of the devices has split scientists and experts, although independent research conducted for the government shows the impact is minimal.
A fact sheet by the Department of Primary Industries claims the safety standards are more than acceptable.
“Results show that radio frequency electromagnetic exposures from single meters and groups of meters are well below the safe levels set by ARPANSA,” said the report.
Another report also claimed the privacy of people who had smart meters would be ensured and that there was no cause for alarm.
Although the smart meters are destined to be installed by the end of the year, it seems a certainty the debate over their existence will continue to rage well after the installation of the controversial devices.