Smart Meter Opt-Out: Are We There Yet?

Picture1Janice Cookston

originally via
WeTexans.com

now available in CLC Archives
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UPDATE: While both pieces of opt-out legislation failed this past legislative session, the PUC has since created a rule that allows electric customers in areas with retail competition to choose a non-standard meter as long as the customer pays for all costs associated with non-standard meter use. Charges will include a one-time fee and a recurring monthly fee. Customers who want to comment on the proposed charges (which are different for each Transmission and Distribution Utility) must file their comments before the following deadlines based on their TDU:

AEP – November 26

Oncor – November 22

Texas-New Mexico Power – November 27

CenterPoint – November 26

See this News Release from the PUC for instructions on how to participate in this public comment period.

UPDATE: SB241 has been voted out of committee and now awaits a vote by the full senate. The language of SB241 has been changed to make the op-out free of charge to consumers. We stand in strong support of this legislation. It needs your help in order to be brought to a vote. Please call the following Senators and ask for their support:

Birdwell 512.463.0122

Campbell 512 463-0125

Davis 512.463.0110

Deull 512.463.0102

Duncan 512.463.0128

Ellis 512.463.0113

Fraser 512.463.0124

Huffman 512.463.0117

Nichols 512.463.0103

Rodriquez 512.463.0129

Selliger 512.463.0131

Uresti 512.463.0119

Zafferini 512.463.0121

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UPDATE: Public testimony will be taken on SB241 in committee on Tuesday, April 9, 2013. See hearing notice for details.

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It has been over a year since Rep. Dennis Bonnen wrote a letter to the Chairman Nelson of the Public Utilities Commission asking that the rules requiring mandatory installation of smart meters in Texas be changed “expeditiously” to reflect the permissive intent of his original legislation. While the PUC indicated in December that they would consider rule changes to allow for a smart meter opt-out mechanism for consumers, those changes are yet to materialize. Clearly, we Texans have a different definition of “expeditious” than does our PUC. In his letter, written in February of 2012, Rep. Bonnen requested immediate action from the PUC in order “that additional legislative action …not [be] required.” Well, you snooze you loose, PUC. Last week two bills were filled in the Texas Legislature to create a smart meter opt-out mechanism for Texans.

HB 1171, authored by Rep. David Simpson, allows “each customer scheduled to receive an advanced meter … to decline, without charge, to have the advanced meter installed; or allow each customer that is using an installed advanced meter to choose to have the meter removed, without charge.” Simpson’s bill also includes provisions making the distribution utility liable for any damage a smart meter may cause to a customers’ property and requiring all distribution utilities to inform their customers by mail of their right to opt-out of the use of advanced metering technology.

SB 241, authored by Sen. John Carona, states that for Texans who have not yet received a smart meter “the utility may charge the customer a reasonable fee for costs associated with the refusal of installation and with providing traditional metering services.” And for those who have a smart meter that they wished removed: “the utility shall remove the advanced meter; and may charge the customer a reasonable fee for costs associated with: removing the advanced meter;  installing a conventional meter; and providing traditional metering services.” Like, HB 1171, Sen. Carona’s bill requires notice by mail to all consumers informing them of their right to opt out, but unlike HB 1171, SB 241 does not include any language about liability of the utility for any damage caused by the meter. Additionally, this senate version of the bill requires that: “The amount of the fee for a customer who declines to have an advanced meter installed must be the same as that for a customer who chooses to remove an advanced meter. “

Here is a quick breakdown of the major tenets in the two bills:

[graphic missing]

 

While both bills create the opt-out mechanism for which we have been working, HB 1171 aligns closest to our recommendations (given in testimony before the PUC on August 21, 2012). HB 1171 has been referred to the House State Affairs Committee and SB241 is currently in Senate Business and Commerce Committee. Each bill currently only has one author. Please contact your legislator and ask them to support and/or sponsor these measures to create an opt-out for Texans.

For further reading on our work on this issue please refer to our blog post: Smart Meters: We Texans Are Pro-Choice. formerly wetexans.com

For resources on how to contact your legislator please download our free guide, How To: Influence State Law.

Related: http://wetexans.com/smart-meter-opt-out-are-we-there-yet/

See also: http://clibertyc.com/?s=we+texans+archives

 

About We Texans Archives
Special Thanks to Debra Medina and staff for outstanding research on sovereignty and property rights and property taxes. Hat Tip to all! Formerly WeTexans.com this content is archived and searchable here on Constitutional Liberty Coalition for reference only.

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