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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Spire Energy is working to replace some old natural gas meters with smart meters.

The utility says the new meters can help conserve energy, which customers want after seeing hikes in gas bills. Spire tells FOX4 it’s only replacing the meters for customers who qualify under the Missouri Public Service Commission’s safety program, where meters are replaced after 10 years or more.

There is some opposition against the switch, with online groups calling the new smart meters an unnecessary cost that is eventually billed to customers.

The new meters are more efficient, more accurate, and have better safety measures built into them, according to Spire.

The smart meters operate on radio signals, but will eventually be able to send a household’s gas usage to Spire by using a cell phone signal.

When it comes to those added safety enhancements in the smart meters, Spire says it could immediately shut off gas if a leak was reported. Right now it takes more time to handle dangerous gas leaks.

Technicians also won’t have to go out to read meters.

Spire is not requiring anyone to upgrade to a smart meter, but customers who refuse will pay for the decision.

Anyone who opts out of getting a new smart meter will be charged $100 set-up fee and then billed $30 a month for a technician to go out and read the meter.