Would you pay $75 to drop smart meter?

Would you pay $75 to drop smart meter?

State regulators are allowing San Diego Gas & Electric Co. customers to opt out of having digital “smart meters” calculate their power use, but the fees to do so upset one letter-writer. Photo by John McCutchen/U-T San Diego
State regulators are allowing San Diego Gas & Electric Co. customers to opt out of having digital “smart meters” calculate their power use, but the fees to do so upset one letter-writer. Photo by John McCutchen/U-T San Diego

Share Photo

State regulators are allowing San Diego Gas & Electric Co. customers to opt out of having digital “smart meters” calculate their power use, but the fees to do so upset one letter-writer. Photo by John McCutchen/U-T San Diego

 California regulators are ready to deliver a bill to utility customers who want to get rid of “smart” meters that transmit data continuously about household consumption of electricity and natural gas.

After years of deliberations, utility regulators said this week that they are prepared to lock in a $75 fee for people who don’t want a smart meter at their home, with additional $10 monthly payments. The California Public Utilities Commission will vote on the fee Dec. 18.

Some utility customers have health concerns about the effects of wireless signals, while others oppose sharing detailed information about electricity and natural gas use. Regulators across the country are grappling with similar complaints.

“It is not fair for individuals to have to pay to not be irradiated,” said Susan Brinchman, who represents a tiny-but-vocal group of San Diego-area utility customers opposed to smart meters. “We’re not going to let go of this at all. We want these things banned,” said Brinchman, director of the Center for Electrosmog Prevention.

California utilities and regulators, meanwhile, see smart meters as a crucial component of efforts to make the modern power grid more efficient and rein in air pollution linked to respiratory problems and climate change.

Given the green light by state regulators in 2007, San Diego Gas & Electric has equipped its entire territory with smart meters, swapping out more than 1.4 million electric meters and adding advanced communications to 900,000 natural gas meters. Out of those customers, about 2,570 have had analog meters reinstalled at a cost of about $1.5 million.

Smart meters have only just begun to fulfill their touted technological promise, as customers monitor their own energy use remotely by smart phone, and use the data to conserve energy and save money.

SDG&E says the proposed $75 fee and $10 monthly payments do not come close to covering its costs to reinstall the old technology.

Full Article at:  http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/dec/05/smart-meter-opt-out-fees/