Important Action Alert on “Smart” Meters in Sedona

Important Action Alert on “Smart” Meters in Sedona
Information & Perspective by Warren Woodward
Sedona, Arizona ~ March 8, 2017

Anyone & everyone who has a residential or commercial APS account in Sedona needs to contact the Sedona City Council ASAP and demand that the Council represent you by NOT signing the APS rate case Settlement Agreement.

I’ll tell you why momentarily but first let me briefly explain what the Settlement Agreement is.

The Settlement Agreement does not mean APS’s rate case is settled. There are still hearings to be conducted. A recommendation to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) commissioners from the Administrative Law Judge assigned to the case has to be issued, and ultimately the ACC commissioners have to vote. All that will take a few months.

Part of the rate case process are private, no-press-allowed “settlement discussion” meetings of APS, ACC Staff and Intervenors such as myself and the City of Sedona. I’ve lost track of how many meetings I’ve been to in Phoenix. Ostensibly the meetings are to settle as many issues as possible before going to hearings so as to streamline the process. In reality the meetings are a non-transparent way to avoid due process.

I signed a gag order so I cannot say specifically what transpired at the meetings. But I think it’s obvious that I would not be sending this Action Alert if the points I raised repeatedly regarding “smart” meters were dealt with properly. It’s a topic for another day but the very nature of the “settlement discussion” meetings is that there is no due process. Facts and evidence do not matter. “Divide and Conquer” is in place automatically because Intervenors are at the meetings to represent only their narrow interests. In short, the “settlement discussion” process is unjust and just plain awful, but somehow it is legal.

Intervenors are now being asked to sign the Settlement Agreement. Those who do not sign, such as myself, will have the opportunity to continue to hash out their various issues through the hearings. But the Settlement Agreement still carries weight, especially since a majority of Intervenors will be signing it.

The City of Sedona’s signature on the Settlement Agreement will also carry weight because Sedona, with 40% of APS’s Sedona customers having refused “smart” meters, is the place of most resistance to “smart” meters in Arizona.

Do not let the City misrepresent you by signing the Settlement Agreement!

Here’s what City would be signing:

  • Commercial account holders would no longer be able to refuse a “smart” meter.
  • Solar account holders would no longer be able to refuse a “smart” meter.
  • No more analog meters for customers who refuse, only non-transmitting digital meters.
  • $5 a month charge for meter reading. No set-up fee for customers who have already refused, but new refusals will have a $50 set-up fee.

Here are some reasons why those proposals are all wrong:

We customers who refuse “smart” meters have the cheaper metering system while at the same time we are subsidizing the grossly inefficient “smart” grid that we do not use or want. We should not have to pay twice.

Using APS’s own numbers that I have obtained through the rate case process, I will demonstrate just how grossly inefficient APS’s “smart” grid is.

APS has bragged of $3.8 million per year “saved” due to “smart” meters replacing trucks and humans. But what APS does not brag about is that it costs over $28 million per year to “save” that $3.8M, assuming a “smart” meter service life of 6 years.

It’s worth noting here that APS, ACC staff and any party signing the Settlement Agreement will also be agreeing to a 20 year “smart” meter service life. To date, no documentation has been provided by APS, ACC Staff or anyone else for a 20 year service life. I am the only one to have provided documentation, and my documentation (Congressional testimony, the I.R.S. — which classifies a “smart” meter as a computer — and APS’s own historical record of meter replacement) shows a 6 year life. (See my testimony here for that plus other arguments: http://docket.images.azcc.gov/0000175878.pdf )

“Smart” meter installed price = $132.22 per meter
$132.22 x 1.25M customers = $165,275,000
$165,275,000 divided by 6 years = $27,545,833.33
$27,545,833.33 + $600,000/yr. cellular cost to move data = $28,145,833.33

So, it costs over $28M per year to “save” $3.8M per year.

APS is running a scam of epic proportions! I have said it for years: People who refuse “smart” meters do not cost APS money. It’s the “smart” grid that’s costing us all, and forever since it will never break even much less save any money.

Let’s give APS and ACC Staff the benefit of the doubt and do the calculation for an impossible 20 year “smart” meter service life.

“Smart” meter installed price = $132.22 per meter
$132.22 x 1.25M customers = $165,275,000
$165,275,000 divided by 20 years = $8,263,750
$8,263,750 + $600,000/yr. cellular cost to move data = $8,863,750

So, even allowing for an impossible 20 year “smart” meter service life, it costs $8.8M per year to “save” $3.8M per year.

Bear in mind that the numbers above do not include such additional costs as data storage, software licensing fees and increased cybersecurity costs which all total in the millions. APS has refused to divulge those numbers despite my asking them repeatedly. I am currently involved in a rate case legal dispute with APS over that. Point is, it costs even more than what’s calculated above to “save” $3.8M per year.

So to repeat, we who have refused APS’s financially unsustainable “smart” meter system owe APS nothing. We are due a refund of our subsidy of APS’s “smart” meter scam.

And scam it is. APS gets a guaranteed rate of return (proposed in the Settlement Agreement at 10%) on capital expenditures such as its “smart” grid. So the more APS spends, the more money APS makes.

“Smart” for APS. Really dumb for us.

Bottom line: Do you want the City of Sedona to sign an agreement enabling APS to rip us off, or do you want the City to join me in fighting the fees? You need to let the City know now.

Regarding commercial and solar customers, currently both commercial and solar customers can refuse “smart” meters. APS has supplied no good reason why that policy should change. Additionally, APS has 1,840 residential and 1,844 commercial customers who cannot have a “smart” meter even if they wanted one because they are in locations where the “smart” grid does not work. So, if 1,884 commercial customers can be served without a “smart” meter then that proves other commercial customers can be served without a “smart” meter also.

Commercial and solar customers in Sedona need to let the City know that the City is not representing them if the City signs the Settlement Agreement.

No more analog meters for customers who refuse “smart” meters makes no sense. It did make some sense when APS wanted mandatory Demand and Time Of Use rates for everyone. APS would have needed digital meters to keep track of Demand and TOU. But one result of the Settlement discussions is that those mandatory rates are now off the table. As such, there is no reason (except APS wanting to increase its expenses for the sake of a return on same) for APS to replace perfectly good, working meters that retail for $15 with meters that cost about $100.

If you want to keep your analog meter then the City will not be representing you by signing the Settlement Agreement. You need to let the City know, now.

I have not included a form letter for you to copy & paste and send to Council because I think it’s better if you put your demands in your own words. Make your email as long or short as you want but get something in now. Council will be deciding this coming Tuesday. Council desperately needs to hear from you. Don’t miss this opportunity.

Council emails:  jcurrivan@sedonaaz.gov, jmartinez@sedonaaz.gov, jthompson@sedonaaz.gov, jvernier@sedonaaz.gov, sjablow@sedonaaz.gov, smoriarty@sedonaaz.gov, tlamkin@sedonaaz.gov

Cc City Attorney:  rpickels@sedonaaz.gov

Cc City Manager:  jclifton@sedonaaz.gov

PS – Just because APS originally wanted $15 per month does not mean that $5 per month is an excellent compromise. Any payment to avoid harm or the threat of harm is extortion.

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