Extension Likely Coming Soon for ComEd Customers ‘Deferring’ Smart Meter Installations

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

comed-ge-smart-meter-vs-analogWe have previously communicated through this website on how Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) customers are being mistreated by not having a permanent smart meter refusal option even though downstate Illinois customers of Ameren do have such an option [1].

Recently, a number of Chicago suburbs, including Burr Ridge, Lake Forest, and Lake Bluff, have formally requested that ComEd take action to work with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) and the Illinois General Assembly to amend its rules to allow for property owners to permanently refuse or “opt out” of its smart meter program [2].

In response to the increased public opposition to ComEd smart meters and its smart meter deferral program, ComEd completed a new filing with the ICC on August 29, 2016 [3].   This filing requests that the current sunset date for the smart meter deferral program be extended from December 31, 2019, to June 30, 2022The filing also commits ComEd “to investigate a possible permanent solution” for customers refusing smart meters.  As stated in the filing:

“With this filing, Commonwealth Edison Company (Company) proposes revisions to Rider NAM – Non AMI Metering (Rider NAM) and the General Terms and Conditions of its Schedule of Rates.  These proposed revisions provide an extension of the deferral period until the end of the statutory deployment period for dealing with the limited number of circumstances in which customers continue to refuse to voluntarily accept the installation of AMI metering or the continued operation of installed AMI metering at their premises.  The proposed revisions also provide for a practical opportunity to develop a permanent solution once that period concludes.

Specifically, the Company proposes that Rider NAM become inoperative on July 1, 2022.  Until July 1, 2022, the current types of charges, terms and conditions of the rider would remain in effect.  In addition, the proposed revisions to Rider NAM obligate the Company to file a petition with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) no later than June 30, 2020, seeking reevaluation of the rider and requesting that the ICC open a docketed proceeding to investigate a possible permanent solution applicable to service rendered beginning July 1, 2022.  The results of a study of the operation of the rider since its inception must accompany that filing.”

Based upon how the ComEd filing was administratively made as a minor revision to a current metering “rider,” the change will automatically become effective on October 13, 2016, unless the ICC objects.

Although the extension for the sunset date on smart meter deferrals may be thought of as “progress” for smart meter opponents, the filing allows ComEd to kick the can down the road until 2020 before beginning its investigation on finding a “permanent solution.”  Sufficient information is available today to make the necessary changes, and thus the current filing with the ICC can also be viewed as simply a delaying tactic.

In addition, the ComEd filing is suspiciously worded to hint at ultimately addressing consumer concerns with smart meters by still “utilizing AMI metering.”  I would call that double-talk, as shown here:

“The proposed revisions to Rider NAM and the Company’s General Terms and Conditions offer an extension of the deferral period while also providing for the initiation of an ICC proceeding to develop a permanent solution for the issue.  In the interim, the Company will be working with its AMI vendors to develop potential technological solutions utilizing AMI metering to address the concerns expressed by customers that continue to refuse AMI metering installations for their premises.”

The ComEd filing with the ICC also supports a false narrative that consumers need to be discouraged from refusing smart meters (rather than acknowledging the inherent risks related to the devices):

“The ICC approved Rider NAM in the NAM Order shortly after the commencement of the Company’s system-wide AMI metering deployment under the ICC approved AMI Plan.  Rider NAM was a response to concerns that customers refusing AMI metering could interfere with the ultimate success of the AMI Plan.”

“Rider NAM provides that customers can defer the installation of AMI metering at their premises if they bear costs pertaining to their deferral.  Rider NAM provides for separate charges applicable to such customers.  These charges serve to recover meter reading and associated costs incurred for this service from the cost causer, protect other customers from the resulting excess costs, and discourage customers from refusing AMI metering through an appropriate pricing signal.”

“The proposed process will allow the Company to continue to implement the ICC’s prior directive to undertake all reasonable efforts, including customer outreach and education, to get customers to accept AMI metering.”

I would suggest that ComEd officials are the ones needing “education” on the risks related to smart meters, not outreach and education for the customers.  Based upon a full review of the ComEd filing that requests an extension of the smart meter deferral period, it is difficult to accept it as a sincere effort to address consumer concerns with smart meter risks, whether they be related to health, privacy, cyber threats, fire hazards, or financial concerns.  In fact, ComEd officials seem to be more motivated by the desire to avoid strong-arm tactics mentioned in the filing, such as termination of service or having the county Sheriff forcing entry into homes:

“While termination of service or legal action to cause the county Sheriff to force entry are possible remedies, it is not clear that these are the most reasonable or ideal options under these specific circumstances.”

It is suggested that Illinois smart meter activists and local municipalities lobby for legislative changes that would implement a true, permanent smart meter (AMI metering) refusal option well ahead of 2022.

References and Notes for this Article

[1] “Illinois Commerce Commission Mistreats Consumers Refusing Smart Meters,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, October 2014, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2014/10/21/icc-mistreats-consumers-on-smart-meters/

[2] “Chicago Suburb Formally Requests Permanent Smart Meter Refusal Option from ComEd,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, July 2016, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2016/07/10/chicago-suburb-formally-requests-smart-meter-permanent-refusal-option/

In addition to the above article that mentions Burr Ridge and Lake Forest, Illinois, SkyVision Solutions is aware that Lake Bluff passed a resolution on August 22nd , consistent with the linked agenda (below); see the bottom of page 1 (agenda item 12):

http://www.lakebluff.org/government/agendas-and-minutes?format=raw&task=download&fid=1136

In addition, the Village of Hinsdale was also to take up the same issue on September 6, 2016; see agenda item 7a) at http://www.villageofhinsdale.org/document_center/VillageBoard/2016/VBOT%20090616.pdf; the agenda item was considered as a “first reading” with a plan to pass the resolution at the next scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees as explained in the video below:


.
[3] Supplemental Statement for ComEd Filing with the Illinois Commerce Commission, dated August 26, 2016; available at

https://skyvisionsolutions.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/comed-supplemental-statement-re-revised-rider-nam.pdf

also see:  ComEd Filing with ICC re Rider NAM

and http://www.comed.com/MyAccount/MyBillUsage/Pages/ProposedRevisions.aspx

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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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