LIMA — A woman feuding with AEP over a new type of meter had her power turned off for a day this month.
Brenda Hawk has been in a dispute with American Electric Power since October over the installation of a meter at her home at 5295 Allentown Road. AEP wants to replace the traditional meter with one that sends a low-level radio frequency that can be read by equipment in an AEP car driving by, said Terri Flora, a spokeswoman for AEP. The technology is common and reduces the need for meter men walking through people's yards.
Last Friday, a sheriff’s deputy accompanied AEP workers to replace the meter, but Hawk said she did not want it swapped. The AEP worker then turned off power to her home, Allen County Chief Deputy Jim Everett said.
Hawk could not be reached for comment Thursday but told an online publication, TheBlaze, she has a pacemaker and was concerned the radio frequency would affect the operation of the device that helps her with a heart problem.
Hawk said online she is not allowed to have a microwave in her house due to her heart problem.
Flora said the meter transfers a low level of radio waves, less than a microwave.
“Much less,” she said. “The American Heart Association said these devices are safe for people with pacemakers.”
Flora said many customers prefer this technology, which makes it unnecessary for workers to be on a person's property.
AEP called the sheriff’s office after past run-ins with Hawk over tree trimming, Flora said.
The 57-year-old Hawk told the online publication it was illegal to turn off electricity during the winter. Flora said that is so — but only for non-payment.
“This was not about a payment issue. This was about an access issue. She had created a barrier to that meter,” Flora said.
Ohio law allows AEP to turn off electricity if a customer prevents AEP from maintaining or replacing a meter, Flora said.
AEP has been working with Hawk on the matter since October and will continue to try to work with her as well as provide her with information on the safety of the new meters, Flora said.