Vermont Legislature Adopts Free Smart Meter Opt-Out
May 07, 2012
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.
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!
I have fantastic news to report! Senator Bob Hartwell’s bill, S.214, was passed by the House!
With No Monthly Opt Out Fee ever, it removes the financial obstacle that hindered many from doing so. Now there’s no downside to opting out. We can preserve our health, privacy and protect our environment from an invisible, insidious form of air pollution – microwave radiation. Vermont is the first state to remove the fee altogether.
Apparently the situation in the House last week was very fluid with a lot of last minute maneuvering around some controversial issues like the CVPS $21,000,000 windfall, but in the end it all worked to our advantage. In addition to the removal of the Opt Out fee, the bill as passed also requires the PSB and Health Commissioner to retain an independent expert to monitor health impacts going forward, report any security breaches and report any energy savings. (See bill below)
A huge thanks to everyone who helped and contributed their time and effort, we made a difference. At the outset we were definitely David against Goliath, the general attitude being, it’s a “done deal”. Kudos to our Senators, Representatives, health and science experts, lobbyists, citizens for all their concerted efforts and fighting spirit! It’s a victory for Vermonters over corporate bullying and greed. Commonsense and precaution prevailed.
Now we need to redouble our efforts to raise awareness and urge all our friends, neighbors, everyone to opt out. CVPS/GMP control 82% of rate-payer territory, so if you know people in regions to the north (east, west, south) it’s important to contact them and spread the word. If enough people refuse to have smeters, the “mesh network system” will be rendered inoperable. Sorry for the vampire analogy, but we need to drive a (silver) stake through the heart of this technology to kill it once and for all. The best way is through opting out en masse.
* * * Smart Meters * **
Sec. 15. 30 V.S.A. § 2811 is added to read:
§ 2811. SMART METERS; CUSTOMER RIGHTS; REPORTS
(a) Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the
(1) “Smart meter” means a wired smart meter or a wireless smart meter.
(2) “Wired smart meter” means an advanced metering infrastructure
device using a fixed wire for two-way communication between the device and
an electric company.
(3) “Wireless smart meter” means an advanced metering infrastructure
device using radio or other wireless means for two-way communication
between the device and an electric company.
(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.
(c) Reports. On January 1, 2014 and again on January 1, 2016, the
commissioner of public service shall publish a report on the savings realized
through the use of smart meters, as well as on the occurrence of any breaches
to a company’s cyber-security infrastructure. The reports shall be based on
electric company data requested by and provided to the commissioner of public
service and shall be in a form and in a manner the commissioner deems
necessary to accomplish the purposes of this subsection. The reports shall be
submitted to the senate committees on finance and on natural resources and
energy and the house committees on commerce and economic development
and on natural resources and energy.
(d) Health report.
(1) On or before January 15, 2013, the commissioner of health and the
commissioner of public service shall jointly submit a report to the senate
committee on finance and the house committee on commerce and economic
development. The report shall include: an update of the department of
health’s 2012 report entitled “Radio Frequency Radiation and Health: Smart
Meters”; a summary of the department’s activities monitoring the deployment
of wireless smart meters in Vermont, including a representative sample of
postdeployment radio frequency level testing; and recommendations relating to
evidence-based surveillance on the potential health effects of wireless smart
(2) The commissioner of public service, in consultation with the
commissioner of health, shall select and retain an independent expert, not an
employee of the state, to perform the research and writing of the report
identified in subdivision (1) of this subsection. The commissioner of public
service may allocate the costs of retaining the independent expert to electric
utilities in accordance with sections 20 and 21 of this title (particular
proceedings; personnel; assessment of costs).
Sec. 15a. INSTALLED WIRELESS SMART METERS
If an electric company has installed a wireless smart meter as defined in
30 V.S.A. § 2811(a)(3) prior to the effective date of this act, the company shall
provide notice of the installation to the applicable customers, and such notice
shall include a statement of customer rights as described under 30 V.S.A.