Texans Can Soon Dump Smart Meters.. For A PriceAdan Salazar
November 4, 2013
In a half-victory for health and privacy advocates in the state of Texas, transmission and distribution utilities are asking for public comment on proposed fees associated with a smart meter opt-out program, a program that went into effect last Friday for Austin residents.
Smart meters blamed for an array of privacy and health concerns / image: Wikimedia Commons.
According to an October press release, the state’s five Transmission and Distribution Utility (TDU) services applied with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) to provide smart meter de-installation services in exchange for money, in some cases lots of it.
It’s likely no coincidence this came after smart meters were already installed on 97 percent of the state‘s competitive market customers.Opt-out Fees
Those who opt out will be responsible for “all costs associated with non-standard meter use,” the news release states. “Charges will include a one-time fee and a recurring monthly fee.”
Fees depend on where you live and who your TDU is. “If you’re in the competitive market of Texas (most of the state other than Austin, San Antonio and El Paso) choosing to opt out means you can be subject to a one-time or recurring fee, or both, totaling hundreds of dollars,” Terrence Henry writes for StateImpact.
On November 1, [url=http://www.austinenergy.com/customer care/billing/AM/smartMeterOptOut.htm]Austin Energy[/url] made official a $75 Smart Meter Opt Out Exchange Fee, in addition to a monthly charge of $10 to cover the cost of manual reading. According to financial information firm SNL Financial, this is actually a bargain.
“If you’re under American Electric Power in Central Texas, it could cost you more than $200 to stick with an old analog meter if a smart meter hasn’t already been installed at your house. To come and replace a smart meter with an analog one will cost you even more, more than $300, plus $18 a month. If you’re an AEP customer in North Texas, it could cost you $356 to replace your smart meter with an old analog one, plus a recurring $35 monthly fee,” reports StateImpact.
Austin Energy began their opt-out program Nov. 1.
And those still aren’t the eye-gouger fees. For those unfortunate enough to live in the Oncor TDU, which services the Dallas-Fort Worth expanse and parts of west Texas, the proposed fee is “$400 to have an analog meter instead of a smart meter installed; if you already have a smart meter, Oncor could charge you as much as $842, plus a monthly fee around $25.”Privacy and Health Concerns
For years, smart meters have been blamed for an array of concerns ranging from debilitating health effects to the potential invasion of privacy.
Activists attest smart meter radio frequency radiation can harm humans as well as pets, causing adverse reactions, including “headaches, sleep problems, ear ringing, focus difficulties, fatigue, heart palpitations, nausea and statistically abnormal recurrences of cancer,” according to Josh del Sol, the director of the film Take Back Your Power. The PUC, on the other hand, says those fears are “unwarranted,” and that the RF signal emitted is “at least ten times below the FCC standard and is considered safe for everyday exposure.”
In terms of privacy, smart meters prevent meter readers from coming on to your property, but they basically invite the entire electric company, as well as anyone else interested, into your home; think back to CIA Director David Petraeus saying they’ll soon be able to clandestinely spy on “targets of interest” through smart appliances wired into an “internet of things.”
Not to mention electrical hazards; some smart meters have been known to spontaneously combust.You’ll Have to Pay to Un-install Something You Never Wanted
StateImpact credits a grassroots uprising of activists and Infowars readers as the reason the PUC bent to the will of the people; but really, it just makes good business sense.
Energy consumers already paid to have the meters installed; now companies stand to make more money off those wishing to opt out.
“They’re banking on the fact that most Texans have no idea what a ‘smart’ meter is other than being given some door hanger informing them this great new meter they just installed is going to do wonders and save them all kinds of money,” columnist Devvy Kidd wrote last December. “Because the majority of people in this state have no information about how dangerous they are to humans, animals and the environment, as well as privacy issues, the TDSPs and power companies are betting the number of people requesting an opt out will be tiny.”
While this is clearly a further attempt to siphon even more of the public’s money into energy provider coffers, it is simultaneously a victory for smart meter activists who previously had no opt-out option.
The PUC is accepting comments on the potential fees on their website.