Memphis City Council seeks compromise on smart meter program
The Memphis City Council wants Memphis Light, Gas & Water (MLGW) to make it easier for customers to opt out of new smart meters.
The Memphis City Council introduced a resolution during its MLGW committee on Tuesday, Jan. 5, that asks the MLGW Board of Commissioners to adopt several policy changes prior to beginning smart meter installation, including streamlining the opt-out process and creating an awareness campaign about the program.
Council member Janis Fullilove said constituents have told her they have gone to MLGW and been told they cannot opt out of a smart meter. Fullilove said residents have also been told they cannot opt out over the phone because they must show proof of residency.
The current process notifies customers 30 days before MLGW installs a new smart meter at their home, during which time they can opt out, if they so chose.
“If [customers] are trying to opt out years in advance, we keep those letters on record, but they don’t have anything to opt out of yet, because we are not at their neighborhood,” said MLGW President and CEO Jerry Collins.
The resolution, sponsored by Councilman Berlin Boyd, Edmund Ford Jr. and Fullilove, asks MLGW to allow customers to opt out any time via phone, the internet, in-person or by mail. The resolution also suggests notifying customers of the wireless two-way communication between the device and MLGW.
Ford called the resolution’s suggestions a compromise between the council, MLGW and local opposition to smart meters, coming from both the MLGW Union and a group called Get Smart Memphis. The opposition group says the devices have negative health affects and can allow third parties access to consumer information.
“I do believe in choice,” Ford said. “Don’t take my choice away. We’re not going to agree 100 percent, but I think this is the best compromise we have in place.”
The resolution also suggests the opt-out process should come at no cost to the consumer, and customers who have already installed a smart meter should have the option of removing it at no cost.