Smart meter opt-out programs may be needed to “defuse” opposition, Chartwell report says
Electric utilities across North America may need to gauge public sentiment and offer opt-out programs to opponents of digital smart meters, according to an Atlanta-based research firm that works with the industry.
“To defuse opposition from smart meter foes and allow utility companies to move forward with grid modernization plans, utility leaders may have to consider creating smart meter opt-out programs regardless of the validity of opponents’ concerns about health, safety and privacy,” a January 24 news release on Chartwell’s website states.
This is the basic finding in Chartwell’s new industry report, Smart Meter Opt-Out Programs 2012.
“Some utilities may be forced into creating such programs,” the release states. “In May, Central Maine Power was subject to the first regulatory ruling by the Maine Public Utilities Commission that required a smart meter opt-out program. The California Public Utilities Commission could become the second regulatory body to require an opt-out program for Pacific Gas & Electric, with a decision date of Feb. 1.”
So far, B.C. Hydro has refused to allow an opt-out of the program initiated in 2010 by the B.C. Liberal government to install 1.8 million meters in homes and businesses provincewide. This despite the fact, at the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual convention in Vancouver last summer, municipalities passed a motion asking for a provincewide moratorium, pending greater study of potential health risks and privacy concerns.
On January 19, the Kansas-based American Academy of Environmental Medicine issued a letter stating that there was sufficient public health risk and they “have an obligation to urge precaution”.
The letter also asks for an immediate moratorium on smart meters, along with public hearings, and that utilities “provide immediate relief to those requesting it and restore the analog meters”.