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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?