SmartMeter customers pay out to opt out

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 (KTSF by Jessie Liang)

On February 1, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved the opt-out plan of SmartMeters that allows PG&E’s customers to choose either a new SmartMeter or a traditional analog meter. But the opt-out customers have to pay fees in order to maintain a second meter-reading cost.

PG&E has installed about 9 million Smartmeters in Northern California service area and estimated about 145,000 customers would opt out of SmartMeters. The CPUC’s final decision requires customers who opt-out of the program have to pay an initial setup charge plus a monthly fee. Greg Snapper, spokesman for PG&E says, “Now with the opt-out, we have to annually read those analog meters. We have to have a representative to come to visit the house. That requires an upfront fee of $75, and ongoing monthly charge of $10.”

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 The low-income customers will pay a $10 initial setup charge and $5 a month. Opponents criticize the charges for the opt-out  as  illegitimate. Snapper says that the company needs extra money to maintain two programs, analog meters and SmartMeters. PG&E doesn’t want  SmartMeter customers to share the cost for analog meter customers.

What is residents’ reaction to the opt-out charges for SmartMeters? One woman says she won’t opt out because it will be costly to pay a one-time fee of $75 and $10 a month. Another person says that her home has installed the SmartMeter. She doesn’t want to opt out because it helps to save energy. 

People opposed to SmartMeters claim the meter’s electromagnetic signals  causes   health issues including headaches and trouble sleeping. In 2011,  the  California Council on Science and Technology ‘s  report revealed the radiation from the meters is less than the radiation from cellphones and microwave ovens or other common household appliances. In addition, it claimed  the actual radiation complies with Federal Communications Commission guidelines.

PG&E customers who want to opt-out of the SmartMeter program can submit their request online at www.pge.com/smartmeteroptout or call 1-866-743-0263. They can also visit PG&E local offices in person to submit their request.

(Copyright 2012 KTSF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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