Last December the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) set a $5/mo “opt-out fee” for analog meters as well as a $50 initial fee for those customers who wisely do not want invasive smart meter technology attached to their homes.
The ACC decision was disputed by interveners and following “legal advice,” on Monday April 13, 2015, the ACC, in an unprecedented fashion, completely “abrogated and rescinded” the December 2014 decision.
Bottom line, Arizona Public Service (APS) customers may not be assessed any fee for refusing a smart meter until the issue is completely revisited “afresh.” If the APS wants to charge customers a fee for refusing smart meters, it will have to apply for such relief in a new rate case.
It is noteworthy, as of today, there has been no news coverage of the ACC decision reached on Monday. This is unlike the coverage in December where it was declared that the “state settles smart meter debate.” See link at:
http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/2014/12/12/state-settles-smart-meter-debate/20343257/ for prior news story.
Update: Late on Thursday, April 16, 2015, an Arizona news outlet did release a story entitled: “APS smart-meter fees rescinded.”
Also at issue is whether smart meters are “safe.” As reported at this website, a state study did not establish that Arizona smart meters were safe, only claiming that smart meters were “not likely to harm the health of the public.” In addition, in early December 2914, SkyVision Solutions submitted comments to the ACC outlining how the state study on smart meters conducted by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) was seriously flawed.
This is at least a temporary victory for the people of Arizona, and it shows how the efforts of a few people can make a difference, in this case, with special credit given to Warren Woodward of Sedona, Arizona. No doubt the utility company will again start the process to request customers pay a fee to avoid its so-called “smart” meters. This would be unfortunate. On the contrary, the utility should consider halting its deployment altogether. As pointed out here at this website on many occasions, the risks far outweigh the benefits.
It should probably be mentioned that the Warren Woodward appeal to the December ACC decision asserted the following:
“… this appeal will reveal the vast amount of errors and omissions in the Decision. These errors and omissions render as false the commissioners’ claim to have ‘fully considered these matters’. This appeal will also expose … that the commissioners … falsely claim they are ‘balancing the public interest’.”
It is apparent that the ACC commissioners fear legal repercussions of their actions from December 2014 and where they realize they have not yet fully considered the best interests of the consumer.
Update: Quoting Warren Woodward from the April 16th news story:
“Woodward said despite the decision, the regulators continue to avoid discussing specific concerns with the meters, focusing narrowly on fees to avoid them.
For example, regulators are not considering the health effects of the meters on neighboring homes when a customer opts out of using a smart meter, he said.
‘They just didn’t review a lot of things,’ he said. ‘There are issues where they won’t even go there’.”
Below is an audio excerpt of the ACC staff meeting where the December 2014 decision was completely rescinded. For those with an extra 5 minutes, it would be worth the time to understand the full context of the Arizona decision.