Lawsuit Challenges ‘Smart’ Meters and Refusal Fees

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Court GavelElk Grove, California, resident Mark Graham has filed a lawsuit against the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) regarding its smart meter program.

The primary basis for the lawsuit is an allegation that the SMUD Board of Directors only approved a time-based metering and communication standard where each customer would have the choice to accept a smart meter as a “time-based meter.”

Instead, SMUD essentially removed electromechanical meters from all 620,000 customers and replaced them with smart meters.  For those customers who did not want exposure to the tremendous risks [1] involved with smart metering, SMUD arbitrarily imposed fees to penalize those customers for objecting to the additional risks.

“I shouldn’t have to pay for something that wasn’t even properly approved in the first place,” Graham said in a phone interview with the Sacramento Bee. [2]

SMUD currently charges $127 to make a change from a smart meter to an analog meter and $14 a month to retain the analog meter.  Graham is primarily asking for a return of the fees he has had to pay over the past couple of years as well as for SMUD to “cease and desist from charging Plaintiff the monthly opt out charge of $14.”

Note that in 2014, this website posted an article with audio showing how representatives of a SMUD committee discussed a proposed opt-out policy where they laughed and joked how the upfront costs associated with refusing smart meters “will convince them they can really afford a lot of tin foil hats” instead of pursuing the opt-out [3].  This behavior and attitude towards customers and the fellow citizens they serve is reprehensible.

The final outcome of the lawsuit may well hinge on what formal resolutions or approvals were made for the smart meter program by the SMUD Board of Directors.

Nevertheless, the lawsuit does remind us of how smart meter programs across the country have been implemented without transparency or necessary public debate.  Initially envisioned by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as a means to offer customers time-based rates upon request [4], smart metering has morphed into a near universal means for industrial profiteering and government sanctioned surveillance under the guise of somehow promoting sustainability.

References and Notes

[1] SkyVision Solutions has previously summarized risks associated with smart meter deployments as:

  • The financial burden imposed by smart meters where most consumers will suffer a “net loss.”
  • Privacy invasions due to granular collection of energy usage data which represents a “gold mine” to others.
  • Potential health risks and actual adverse health effects caused by the additional electrosmog created by the smart meters and their associated infrastructure.
  • The increased risk of household fires due to smart meter safety issues and ‘catastrophic failures’ that are expected with smart meters as opposed to traditional usage meters.
  • Societal implications of smart grid and smart meter cybersecurity threats which can result in catastrophic events affecting widespread areas of the electric grid.

[2] “Customer’s lawsuit challenges SMUD’s use of smart meters.” February 4, 2016, The Sacramento Bee, at http://www.sacbee.com/news/business/article58433618.html

[3] “California Municipal Utility (“SMUD”) Is a Public Nuisance,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, March 2014, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2014/03/11/california-municipal-utility-is-a-public-nuisance/

[4] Quotations from the Energy Policy Act of 2005:

SEC. 1252. SMART METERING: 

(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 111(d) of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 2621(d)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

‘‘(14) TIME-BASED METERING AND COMMUNICATIONS.—

(A) 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.” [emphasis added]

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About SkyVision Solutions

Raising public awareness and finding solutions for smart grid issues related to invasions of privacy, data security, cyber threats, health and societal impacts, as well as hazards related to radiofrequency (RF) radiation emissions from all wireless devices, including smart meters.
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One Response to Lawsuit Challenges ‘Smart’ Meters and Refusal Fees

  1. 1vimana1 says:

    Good on you,
    Mr Mark Graham, I hope you win your Court case against the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) regarding its smart meter program. … They of S.M.U.D are I allege Modern Day Pirates and Thieves of the lowest water. I allege they all need Dragging into the highest Court in the land for a well-overdue Court Trial.

    I believe that they are certainly guilty of these most heinous crimes of firstly wrecking more and more people/s health and welfare with the forcing of these actually Far from Smart Microwave Poisonous A.M.I broadcasting and receiving machines on their Electricity Customers, whom they of robbed of their Health and Welfare and have also raped more and more money off their Electricity Customers.

    After the now well overdue Court Trial and when proven GUILTY of these most Heinous Crimes … their ilk needs to be FLUNG into PRISON for a minimum of Fifty Years to be served in full with no remission for good behaviour whilst in Gaol or Prison.

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