With BWP’s smart meter opt-out deadline just around the corner (Sunday, May 20th), let’s go ahead and call BWP’s “opt out” meter what it really is: a sham meter. That’s right. BWP’s smart meter “option” is a smart meter with the RF removed. It’s also a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
A smart meter is a smart meter, and a smart meter with the RF removed does not address concerns about privacy and energy usage monitoring, as well as public safety problems, and problems with the smart meter’s switching power mode supply that can create “dirty electricity” spikes in your home wiring that can make you sick.
In fact, Vermont’s legislators recently approved legislation offering residents to be able to refuse the wireless smart meter and not be charged any opt-out fees.
In contrast, BWP’s opt out fees are $75 up front, and a $10 monthly fee. Lifeline households will pay $5 to $10 a month.
“Charging fees for opting out is pretty outrageous,” said Charles Acquard, executive director of National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, which represents 44 consumer groups in 40 states.
BWP’s charging fees to have a smart meter instead of a smart meter is also outrageous.
The other problem with BWP’s opt-out program is the one-time-only May 20th deadline approved by our City Council members (now Mayor) Dave Golonski, Emily Gabel-Luddy and Gary Bric (dissenting votes were cast by former Mayor Jess Talamantes and Dr. David Gordon).
Were you informed about the opt-out deadline? Were you informed about the “delay installation” list that allowed you to hold onto your existing or analog meter for several months?
We’ve heard from BWP customers telling us that they were never informed about the May 20th deadline, and the same goes for the delay-installation program. BWP”s Opt Out information is not even found on BWP’s Smart Meter webpage.
How can BWP customers opt out by the May 20th deadline date if they don’t know that there is a deadline, or how to opt out?
Even if BWP customers are ultimately informed of the deadline, that doesn’t make it fair or right. We don’t live in a totalitarian country, and yet our city’s smart meter deadline essentially traps you in your own home, unable to move to another home and have any options, violating our freedom of movement and civil liberties. It also prevents those who would want to move into Burbank from having any options.
Meanwhile, millions of Californians in neighboring SCE territory, SDG&E territory down south, and PG&E territory up north are getting the analog option. But not those in BWP territory. Is that fair or discriminatory? Is BWP’s opt out program basically telling you that if you don’t like our smart meters then you should move out of town?
It’s not like we have a choice of utilities here. BWP is a monopoly.
Lastly, many residents have questioned whether BWP’s smart meter program is legal. Well, BWP’s $60 million smart grid program has been partially funded with a $20 million federal stimulus grant (our tax dollars). However, federal legislation about smart meters (see page 370-371 of the U.S. Policy Energy Act of 2005) specifically states (we have bold-faced certain words below for you to take note):
“Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this paragraph, each electric utility shall offer each of its customer classes, and provide individual customers upon customer request, a time-based rate schedule under which the rate charged by the electric utility varies during different time periods and reflects the variance, if any, in the utility’s costs of generating and purchasing electricity at the wholesale level. The time-based rate schedule shall enable the electric consumer to manage energy use and cost through advanced metering and communications technology…
‘‘(C) Each electric utility subject to subparagraph (A) shall provide each customer requesting a time-based rate with a time-based meter capable of enabling the utility and customer to offer and receive such rate, respectively.”
It’s quite obvious here: Federal law/legislation requires utilities to make time-of-use rates optional or available, “upon customer request” and does not mention that smart meters should be mandatory or forced upon the customer.
BWP’s smart meters thus should thus not be mandatory or forced upon us.
Another worrisome action by our City? Current Mayor Dave Golonski said, during the smart meter opt out discussions, that he sees no problem with time-based (also called “time of use” or TOU) rate schedules. TOU rates charge residents more for using energy during certain times of the day, unfairly penalizing those who do not leave their homes from 9 to 5 — including stay-at-home parents and caretakers, those who work in their home, retirees, seniors, disabled, those on home medical support systems, and the unemployed. That’s just one of the reasons why federal legislation made this optional, and consumer groups say they should be optional, not mandatory.
Given the way BWP has implemented its mandatory smart meter program, its “delay installation” program that it failed to inform its customers about, and its sham smart meter “opt out” program with the one-time only May 20th deadine, what do you think will happen next?
Will BWP will push for mandatory time-of-use rates? Will our Mayor and City Council approve such a forced program on BWP customers even though it goes against federal legislation saying that such rates should only be voluntary?
If you want to oppose BWP’s smart meter program, its opt out program, deadline and fees, and potential mandatory time of use rates, then write, e-mail and call BWP and our Mayor, City Council Members, and City Manager. Then at our next local election, don’t forget to cast you vote according to which elected official did or didn’t support your concerns.
To read more about Burbank’s flawed “opt out program,” and what you can do about it, go to our Burbank Smart Meter “Opt-Out” Page.