CPUC Approves Smart Meter Opt-out

A hat tip to the OC Watchdog today on their reporting on the approval of SCE’s smart meter opt-out option. We have blogged several times about the Stop OC Smart Meters folks and their efforts to stop the installation of the SmartGrid technology SCE has begun using in Southern California. We were happy to receive our Smart Meter several weeks ago and have been analyzing our own electrical usage with the web tools provided. However, not everyone has been enamored with the idea of having what is, essentially, a cellphone blasting through their homes with RF radio waves. There have also been privacy concerns raised as well as other issues as to just how SCE plans to control the electrical usage in your house in the future with other so-called smart appliances hooked up to the grid.

From the Watchdog:

The California Public Utilities Commission today approved a smart meter opt-out option for customers of Southern California Edison who want to switch back or keep their current meters.

Smart meters are part of the new Edison SmartConnect grid. They connect to “a secure wireless network” that SCE says gives customers greater control to manage their usage – even from a cellphone, many miles from home. Smart meters are also read remotely, so employees don’t have to trek to the house to read the meter.  By the end of this year, 5 million smart meters are slated to be installed in Southern California.

A little over a month ago we talked about the controversies surrounding the new system and smart meters which led to customers asking for the opt-out option.  Some consumers are worried about radio frequency radiation from the new meters, some have challenged their accuracy and others say the meters are an invasion of privacy.  The PUC has received hundreds of complaints about the new meters.

Edison has downplayed those concerns, citing studies showing that the meters are safe and accurate.

But since our first post more Orange County residents have contacted us expressing similar concerns.

Ken Devore, director of Edison SmartConnect, said SCE has been willingly participating for months in CPUC’s proceedings. “We absolutely support customers having a choice,” Devore said.

Customers who chose the opt-out option will have to pay an initial fee of $75 and then a monthly fee of $10. Devore said that currently only 28,000 customers have indicated an interest in the opt-out option. In the March 30 proposal that we mentioned in our last piece, though, SCE estimated 61,000 would take the opt-out.

You can read the details at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/PD/161688.pdf.

Some customers and groups such as Stop OC Smart Meters who want to opt-out feel that they shouldn’t have to pay to keep their old meters.

“The fact of the matter is the previous form of meters are not the standard anymore,” Devore said. “The new standard is smart meters. The old meters require labor that smart meters don’t.”

That extra labor, maintenance, and additional costs incurred to regulate the old meters is SCE’s reasoning for charging customers. Devore and SCE believe it is only fair. The costs are subject to change and during phase two of SCE’s proceedings with the CPUC new rates may be applied to residents opting out.

So, now it appears you will have a choice. But, that choice will come at a price should you decide to keep your old meter. The only customers who are eligible, by the way, are those who placed themselves on the delay list or currently do not have a Smart Meter installed. For the rest of us, we can go to the website and review quite a bit of fascinating information about our electrical usage.

What do you think of SCE’s new opt-out plan? Do you think the fee is reasonable?

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6 thoughts on “CPUC Approves Smart Meter Opt-out

  1. SCE should have had the opt out option from the beginning of the program. But what is typical of the monopoly is they just tried to ram it down our throats. There really was no choice….if you weren’t home and they could access your meter then they just installed it. The representative who tried to install ours was rude and repeatedly gave false and misleading information trying to force me to let him install the smart meter. I had to be very firm and kick him off my private property. Most of my neighbors had no choice.

    As far as the fee goes…..since they claim keeping the regular meters costs them more then what I would like to see is how everyone who got a smart meter get a $75 + dollar credit up front and an additional $10 plus per month since SCE is supposedly saving so much money with the smart meters. Did they offer that in their proposal? Check you bill.

    And where is all the saving from the low cost of natural gas these days which is used to fire our power plants to my understanding?

    I will keep my privacy and I will be fighting the extra fees. This is not over by any stretch of the immagination.

    • I would love a $10 rebate every month but I think what they are saying is it costs more to maintain the older units as they still have to be read by hand and there are moving parts.

      Natural gas has not been low cost for almost ten years. Like other popular alternatives, gas prices went up when it started being used more even though there is no shortage.

      Thanks for the comment and for reading.

  2. A few things from the Stop OC Smart Meter gang:

    1. Correction to your article: Customers who already have a smart meter, but would like to opt out, CAN have their meter exchanged for the type (i.e., electro-mechanical analog meter or non-analog, non-smart digital meter) that was previously in place.

    2. OC Register’s Laura Barron-Lopez did an awesome job reporting on this story. Thank you, Laura! It’s nice to get some media attention on this issue.

    3. For Analog Metering customers already on the “Delay List”, calling the number below will enable them to enroll in the “opt-out” program and keep their current meters. SCE says to waiting until May 9th to start calling….but we say CALL NOW at (800) 810-2369.

    Note: When I called today the SCE representative said a strange comment regarding the CPUC decision making SCE sound like a victim in all this nonsense. She said, “They (the CPUC) were the ones that requested the SmartConnect meters to begin with.” Interesting…

    4. In regards to the “opt-out” fees, it seems a bit unfair to be charging customers for two metering systems when they only use one of them. As it stands now, 100% of all SCE customers are required to pay for the new $1.7 BILLION smart metering system through increased rates and fees. Those remaining on the analog metering system (the ‘Opt-Out-ers”) are now going to be assessed new rates and fees for a system that has been in place (and working just fine) for years in addition to paying for a system that will not be using.

    5. You cannot audit a Smart Meter bill. As a CPA, I look for documentation to support expenditures. When there is no starting point or ending point on a measuring device how can you trust it’s calculation? There are no dials to measure. No accountability. No transparency. When your electric bill goes up what evidence can you provide to say that you were not using electricity? You say you were out of town and turned off all the lights. They say that the lights were on all week and bill you accordingly. Now what? It’s their word over yours! It’s a scam.

    6. Those wishing to protect their privacy, 4th Amendment rights, health, safety, security and cost accountability are required to pay a fee. How do you define extortion in your line of work, Jeff?

    Thanks for your blog post!

  3. Hey, you know my line of work…. As I said in the above reply, the charge for the old meters is to maintain an obsolete system for what SCE figured would be about 60,000 homes out of 5 million. I may not agree with the fee but I understand their reasoning behind it.

    You actually can audit the smartmeter. It has the same metering as the old one, just in digital format. The website and all their documentation tell you just take the reading (it is one of four alternating displays) and subtract it from the previous reading (assuming you recorded one some period of time before).

    What I like about the new system is the ability to go onto the webiste and check hour by hour usage and tierage. I have no “smart” appliances so they can’t determine my exact usage. But, if they did, they would find we don’t do our laundry until late at night. That’s about it.

    Again, we come from two disparate views on the issue and I appreciate your commenting here and clarifying issues. Thank you for reading and taking an active part in this.

  4. Pingback: Southern California Edison supports CPUC decision for customer choice on Edison SmartConnect Meters | Orange County Breeze

  5. It’s interesting that the CPUC approved extra charges for those who want to opt out of Smart Meters, since CPUC approved rate increases for everyone to pay for Smart Meters. Also the payback time for Smart Meters is over 20 years, if ever, This is ne of the worst investments in history, and certainly the worst implementaton of technology to save money.

    They should go back to the drawing board on this one.

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