REC

National Archives and Records Administration / U.S. Department of Agriculture

When a storm knocks out power for a few hours, it's an inconvenience; if the outage lasts much longer it becomes a crisis.  However, not so long ago electricity was far from ubiquitous in Iowa.

Iowan Kieth Wirt was 10 years old when electricity came to his family’s farm in Panora. Like most households, the first appliance the Wirts purchased was a refrigerator, and soon after indoor plumbing.

Iowa’s rural electric cooperatives are aggressively pursuing a new technology for measuring  electricity consumption  at homes and farms.    With so-called  smart meters , the REC’s  can tell how much power you’ve used without going anywhere near your house.   Health and privacy concerns have led some rural residents to look to the legislature for help.