by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions
Back about ten years ago, Illinois passed legislation for a “Smart Grid Advanced Metering Infrastructure Deployment Plan.” This legislation required ComEd to deploy advanced metering (“smart meters”) for all of its electric customers.
As opposition to smart meters grew for a variety of reasons, the utility company developed a program to allow customers to defer installation at a cost of $21.53 per month for manual reading of the meter. The ultimate goal was to coax all customers to eventually accept a smart meter or potentially face disconnection at some point down the road. In past filings with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), the “sunset date” for the deferral program was to be June 30, 2022.
Non-AMI Metering to Be Allowed Beyond June 30, 2022
There are about 5,000 customers within the ComEd service territory in Illinois that have continued to refuse smart meters and presumably are paying $21.53 per month for the privilege of maintaining an analog meter to measure electrical usage.
ComEd has received approval from the ICC to continue allowing those customers to keep their old meters indefinitely. It has been a matter of legal interpretation that a 100% compliance standard was not practical in terms of meeting the requirement that “all” customers receive a smart meter. Thus, ComEd has been judged to be in “compliance” with the statutory language of implementing an advanced metering infrastructure plan. Quoting from the ICC Order:
“Accordingly, ComEd believes that its best course of action is:
(1) to recognize that at the conclusion of the AMI meter deployment period there will remain a relatively small number of Rider NAM [Non-AMI Metering] participants;
(2) to accommodate customers’ participation in Rider NAM beyond the end of AMI deployment;
(3) to cap the number of such participants in order to preserve AMI mesh network performance;
(4) to continue to collect reasonable charges (as they may be updated from time to time) from the refusing customers as provided for in the tariff; and
(5) to continue to inform customers of the benefits of AMI, encourage acceptance of AMI meters, and phase out Rider NAM through the voluntary acceptance of AMI Meters.
ComEd’s planned approach is superior to ComEd being compelled to undertake burdensome and costly new or expanded efforts in an effort to move to a ‘perfect score’ of 100%. …
Requiring ComEd to engage in expanded or additional efforts to achieve AMI meter deployments at all the remaining locations by July 2022 would not be reasonable or beneficial from practical perspectives for customers or the utility. In so stating, the Commission is not finding or suggesting that customers can or should reject AMI meters.
Accordingly, the Commission concludes that ComEd will have achieved full compliance … if it has implemented the AMI Plan, as revised, without material deficiencies, through the end of the implementation period.”
Not Really a Formal Opt-Out Program
So going forward, what we have here is not really a formal opt-out program for smart meters at ComEd, but customers who have refused them up to this point can breathe a little easier that they will not be forced to convert to a smart meter after June 30, 2022.
In some of the documentation ComEd has available at the company website, I can see that ComEd has placed a “Participant Cap” on non-AMI metering at 5,500 customers within its service territory. This potentially allows for about 500 additional customers to seek non-AMI metering, but I see no real mechanism for this to happen other than pestering customer service personnel until they finally relent to your request and your understanding that you would pay something like an additional $21.53 per month going forward.
References and Background Information
1. Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) Order pertaining to ComEd Customer Smart Meter Refusals, available at: https://skyvisionsolutions.files.wordpress.com/2022/03/icc-order-on-smart-meter-refusals-nov-2020.pdf
2. “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/
3. “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/