I am no expert on the laws, but this is what I have learned about why we are being subjected to having these smart meters installed, and also what actions we can take at this time to protect ourselves through the legal system.
Federal law enacted in 2005 required the electric utility companies to provide time-based meters to customers requesting a time-based rate...i.e. smart meters.
Energy Policy Act of 2005
bottom of page 371
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.
and further down...
‘‘(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.
In 2008, Pennsylvania enacted Act 129, part of which states...
(2) Electric distribution companies shall furnish smart
meter technology as follows:
(i) Upon request from a customer that agrees to pay
the cost of the smart meter at the time of the request.
(ii) In new building construction.
(iii) In accordance with a depreciation schedule not
to exceed 15 years.
Although the federal law appears to require smart meter installation only for those customers requesting them,
Many states now allow for customers to opt-out of these technologies. Pennsylvania should, too!
In 2011-12 and again in 2013, Rep. Mike Reese introduced three bills that would protect our rights as energy consumers. These bills are sitting in committee, waiting for Rep. Robert W. Godshall (Consumer Affairs Chairman) to find it in his heart to allow these bills to move ahead on their path to becoming law. It is up to us to provide the impetus for this to happen.
Even if you are not objecting to this technology, or are not sure yet if you do, it is in our best interests to have our rights and privacy protected in this way.
At the moment, in June of 2013, the House of Representatives is focused on bills relating to budget concerns and will not review these bills until sessions resume in the fall. That gives us time to contact our representatives and get our voices heard.
The three bills are as follows...
HB 899 Repeal of Smart Meter Mandate
It reads, in part...
I am of the opinion that although smart meters may be a technology that has advantages, no government body should mandate their usage. Such a mandate jeopardizes common principles of supply and demand.
This legislation, one of three bills addressing smart meter technology that I intend to introduce, would simply remove language that requires energy companies to provide smart meters while still allowing companies to offer the technology should they choose.
HB 902 Consumer “Opt-Out” of Smart Meter Usage
It reads, in part...
I and other legislators have been contacted by constituents that have expressed their desire to not have smart meter technology at their homes or businesses. Their concerns range from securing sensitive and personal information to the health impacts of radio frequency (RF) waves. My perspective is one that questions if a government mandate was appropriate at all.
This legislation, one of three bills addressing smart meter technology that I intend to introduce, would provide consumers the ability to “opt-out” of having a smart meter and require the Pennsylvania Utility Commission to create a fair surcharge system that would be paid by these consumers. This is similar to laws recently passed in Maine, Nevada and California.
(I want to mention here that many object to the surcharge for opting out, and I will try to get more information on that. In the meantime, if this bothers you too, you might want to mention your objection to that aspect of the bill when you contact your representative.)
HB 906 Consumer Consent to Share Smart Meter Information
It reads, in part...
Part of this mandate is the requirement that, with customer consent, power companies provide direct meter access or meter data to third parties including electric generation suppliers and providers of conservation and load management services. While it makes sense for certain third parties to have access to data necessary to ensure that consumers are billed properly for the services they receive, I am concerned about this information being shared with government agencies without prior consent.
This legislation, one of three bills addressing smart meter technology that I intend to introduce, will ensure that customer consent is required before an electric distribution company may share customer meter data or provide meter access to a government agency.
Rep. Reese's office has suggested that we each contact our local state reps and ask them to co-sponser these bills when they return to work in the fall. Also, ask that they speak candidly to Rep. Godshall and insist that he push these bills through the committee (of which he is the chairman) for a vote on the house floor. With enough representatives backing these bills, it will send a clear message to Rep. Godshall that the people of Pennsylvania expect to be properly represented and protected by our elected representatives. A call to Rep. Godshall might also be something to do, but the most important thing would be to get as much support for these bills as possible.
You can find your local representative here...Find Your Legislator
And if you are so inclined...Rep. Godshall's information is here... link
Thank you. Please spread the word and share this with as many people as you can.
Post a comment as well when you do, so we can all know that people are taking action!
[added 7-2-13... I have found that there are also three bills in the Senate introduced by Sen. Donald C. White. They are SB816 SB817 SB818
Click the links to see them. More updates on this post to come soon. ]