Thursday, April 19, 2012 – California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) votes on Smart-Meter ”Opt-Out” rule-making.
CPUC APPROVES ANALOG METER OPTIONS FOR EDISON CUSTOMERS WHO DO NOT WISH TO HAVE A WIRELESS SMART METER
The California Public Utilities Commission(CPUC) Thursday modified Southern California Edison’s (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) advanced metering programs to include an option for those residential customers who do not wish to have a wireless Smart Meter installed at their location.
Edison customers choosing to decline an electric Smart Meter may retain the meter currently installed at their location or receive the meter form (i.e., an analog meter or a non-analog, non-smart digital meter) that had been at their location prior to the installation of a wireless electric Smart Meter.
SDG&E customers who do not want a wireless Smart Meter installed at their location can choose to have an analog electric and/or gas meter.
Opponents of the smart meters expressed concerns over perceived health risks and privacy issues.
“As we move toward a more advanced electricity grid, smart meters will offer customers real benefits,” CPUC commission President Michael Peevey said. “However, if a customer does not want to have a smart meter, our decision today gives them that option.”
Erwin Furukawa, senior vice president of customer service at Edison, said the company supports the commission’s decision allowing customers to opt out of the program.
“Customer choice is something that is important to us, and we’re glad that the CPUC was able to come to a timely decision to accommodate all our customers,” he said.
Starting May 9, Edison customers can opt out by calling 800-810-2369.
Customers already on a delay list can call the number to opt out and keep their current meters. Customers who already have a smart meter can have it exchanged for another model that was previously in place, according to the company.
Customers participating in the opt-out option will be assessed an initial fee of $75 and a monthly charge of $10 thereafter. Customers enrolled in the CPUC’s low income program (California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE)) electing to opt-out will be assessed an initial fee of $10 and a monthly charge of $5.
The initial fee and monthly charge approved Thursday are interim to allow residential customers to begin selecting the opt-out option immediately. The fees are subject to adjustment upon conclusion of a second phase of this proceeding where issues concerning the actual costs associated with offering an analog opt-out option will be addressed.
The September 21, 2011, Assigned Commissioner’s Ruling directing utilities to establish a delay list is no longer in effect and all customers on a delay list will be transitioned to a wireless Smart Meter unless they elect to participate in their utility’s opt-out option.
The proposal voted on for SCE is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/PD/161688.pdf. The proposal voted on for SDG&E is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/164057.pdf.
For more information on the CPUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.
EdNote: The terms ”smart meter”, or “wireless meter” are basically the same. It does not require a utility ”meter reader” to go onto your property to physically “read the meter”. That assumes, of course that the meter is not blocked by other buildings or similar obstructions, can be “read” from the “street”. These meters have the ability to communicate via “radio”. Each has a built-in 2-way radio. They operate in the 902 MHz and 2.4 GHz bands. Power output of the transmitter is typically one (1) watt in the 902 MHz band and much less in the 2.4 GHz band frequencies authorized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Cell phones, for example, transmit up to 3-Watts of RF power and are operated while attached to the user’s brain cavity for hours on end. On demand by the utility, the radio will transmit various meter functions, such as how much electricity was used since the last time it was “read”, among other electrical functions. This “data” is transmitted to a nearby “receiver” located on a utility pole (or other utility equipment) and is then re-transmitted to the utility company for processing.