Last week the State Legislators of Vermont voted to allow utility customers a no fee Smart Meter opt-out! Specifically, the bill says that customers must be allowed “to choose not to have a wireless smart meter installed, at no additional monthly or other charge”.
*From the proposed House of Representatives bill: Sec. 15. 30 V.S.A. § 2811 SMART METERS; CUSTOMER RIGHTS; REPORTS (b) Customer rights. Notwithstanding any law, order, or agreement to the contrary, an electric company may install a wireless smart meter on a customer’s premises, provided the company: (1) provides prior written notice to the customer indicating that the meter will use radio or other wireless means for two-way communication between the meter and the company and informing the customer of his or her rights under subdivisions (2) and (3) of this subsection;
(2) allows a customer to choose not to have a wireless smart meter installed, at no additional monthly or other charge; and (3) allows a customer to require removal of a previously installed wireless smart meter for any reason and at an agreed-upon time, without incurring any charge for such removal.
The legislation also calls for future reports related to smart meters to be submitted on: cost-savings associated with smart meters; whether any security breaches occurred because of the wireless technology; and the health effects of smart meters.
Meanwhile, the Vermont Public Service Board who regulate the Vermont utilities had already approved delaying opt-out charges until April 2013. The purpose of suspending the fees were to evaluate the real costs, instead of arbitrary numbers.
In California, the Public Utilities Commission approved arbitrary and punitive opt-out fees, and is forcing customers who do not want Smart Meters to agree to the charges- even though they’ve never evaluated the charges! Seems like Vermont has a few smarter people in charge.
Matt Levin, Outreach and Development Director for Vermonters for a Clean Environment stated they were “pleased the Legislature made such a strong statement on this issue”, however he also expressed caution as the Public Service Board and utilities will continue to evaluate the costs associated with opting out in upcoming proceedings and he said, “our enthusiasm is tempered by the realities and struggles of past experiences”.
However, there will be NO fees charged for at least one year and the legislature has banned the fees altogether. For now, Vermonters have been provided with relief and a victory! CONGRATULATIONS!