BR homeowners displeased with Entergy's installation of new tech devices in neighborhoods
BATON ROUGE - While technological advances bring welcomed convenience to daily life, the new tech gadgets that make such convenience possible often seem to go through an 'awkward phase' before evolving into a more attractive product.
For example, one of the world's first computers was about 1,800 square feet and weighed nearly 50 tons.
Another case of 'awkwardness' can be found in the world's first mobile phone, which, clocking in at about 88 pounds, was so large it was nearly immovable.
Some residents in Baton Rouge say there is a local example of this in a relatively new device that Entergy Louisiana rolled out in recent years.
According to The Advocate, the deployment of advanced metering technology from Entergy and the ensuing installation of white "access points" on street poles in local neighborhoods has been upsetting to quite a few homeowners.
Gehl Davis, the president of the White Oak Landing homeowner's association, expressed his feelings on the appearance of the devices, telling The Advocate, "They're pretty ugly."
The gadgets that homeowners like Davis feel are unsightly consist of two small boxes and an antenna.
Despite being "pretty ugly" to some, the devices come in handy for Entergy, allowing the company to remotely monitor a customer's gas or electric meter without having to send out a physical "meter reader."
The Advocate reports that in places with above-ground utilities, the access points largely blend in, perched alongside other technology on utility-owned infrastructure like wooden poles.
But, where utilities are underground, the devices are instead placed on street poles, and residents say they're impossible to overlook. Some say they wish they would've been notified of the installations ahead of time.
Ed Lagucki, the president of the Federation of Greater Baton Rouge Civic Associations, told The Advocate that residents in Shenandoah, White Oak Landing and The Lake at White Oak began contacting him last month about the unsightly installations, questioning their purpose and why they weren't given a heads-up.
He explained that the lack of communication reminded him of the contentious rollout of 5G technology in Baton Rouge. In that instance, AT&T gave homeowners no prior warning before constructing cell towers in the rights-of-way in front of their houses. The move sparked outrage among homeowners, who then turned to the Mayor's Office with their complaints.
The outcry motivated Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome to ask AT&T to put a stop to its construction in residential areas until a new ordinance was adopted.
"As with 5G, most people embrace the concepts of smart meter technology, but wanted to be better informed of and have a voice in this type of rollout," Lagucki said.
Entergy Louisiana, however, maintains that it has official approval to set up the metering devices.
David Frees, a spokesperson for the company, explained that the deployment and installation of advanced metering infrastructure is a multiyear effort that was reviewed and approved by the Louisiana Public Service Commission.
Implementation of the technological advance started in 2018 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
While Lagucki acknowledged that Entergy Louisiana effectively reached out to residents and communicated with them on the company's plans to install new smart meters, he added that it would have been nice if that same level of communication had been implemented prior to the installation of the access points.
Before installing the smart meters, Entergy sends out two notifications, by emails, text or mail, to homeowners, Frees says. But, the firm doesn't offer a similar notification for the access point installations.
Davis, mentioned earlier in this article, said he worries this installation process marks the beginning of a problem, and that soon White Oak Landing's light poles will be filled with antennas for a variety of gadgets.
He added that, in his opinion, Entergy ought to make the devices more appealing by painting them black. This way, Davis explained, the gadgets would blend in.
An Entergy representative reportedly told him the company would look into the accommodation of this request.
Despite this, Davis remains grimly resigned to the sight of the gadgets and what they might represent, saying, "I think we're going to get them whether we like it or not."
That said, just as phones and computers were eventually designed to be more compact and attractive, perhaps the design of Entergy's advanced metering technology will eventually evolve into a product that locals find more visually appealing.
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