Just over 2 months ago, I discussed health and privacy concerns relating to Smart Meters, which are being implemented in many areas of the United States, and worldwide. Many of the residents here in California’s Antelope Valley and surrounding areas requested to “opt-out” of Smart Meter installation, but were told they would be put on a “Delay List,” pending a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) decision regarding an opt-out provision. (For information regarding health and privacy concerns, please refer back to: Smart Meters: What the Power Company Won’t Tell You, my December 1st post.)
So far, the CPUC has not ruled on the Southern California Edison (SCE) opt-out provision, which would apply locally, but last Wednesday a decision was announced which will affect approximately 12 million Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) customers in northern and central California. Many believe that this ruling will serve as a “template” for future decisions involving Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).
The CPUC did in fact approve an opt-out provision for PG&E customers, but opting out will have a price. Customers who opt out will have to pay a one-time $75 fee, plus $10 monthly for the privilege of keeping their existing analog meters. (Low income customers would pay an initial fee of $10 and $5 monthly.) Needless to say, Smart Meter opponents are not happy, and I’m already hearing complaints from the local valley residents in anticipation of what’s coming down the pike. Indeed, why should we pay to “opt out” of something we never “opted in” for?
Apparently public concerns for health and privacy here do not have the same standing here as they do elsewhere in the world. In the United Kingdom, plans to install Smart Meters in every household by 2019 have been scaled-back. With about 400,000 installations in place so far, Charles Hendry, the energy minister, has responded to the “push back” by stating: “We believe people will benefit from having smart meters. But we will not make them obligatory.” According to the U.K.’s Department for Energy and Climate Change, the ambitious plan was shelved to avoid the program getting “bogged down” in lengthy legal disputes.
Perhaps a legal quagmire will be the result here in the U.S., but I suspect that we’ll see a hodge-podge approach, with a patchwork of policies; Smart Meters banned in some communities, and quietly accepted in others. Then there will be the so-called “fringe element”: those of us who choose to get off-the-grid altogether. Rest assured, regardless of which part of the patchwork you place your “nest” in, My Solar Backup Depot will be at your service.