PECO: Billions of investment at risk with Pennsylvania court’s rejection of smart meter mandate
Smart meters are widely considered to be safe, but energy companies often make accommodations for customers who do not want RF exposure.
The Commonwealth Court concluded that a group of customers fighting to have the meters removed from their property had not proven they faced a health risk — but the court did accept arguments that state law doesn’t require them to take the meters.
“Most utilities have a way for customers to opt out of a smart meter and some charge them for the extra cost,” according to Jordan Nachbar, spokesperson for the Smart Electric Power Alliance. “During their smart meter rollouts, many utilities post studies to combat some of the misinformation.”
Arizona Public Service, Xcel Energy Minnesota, Orange and Rockland Utilities, Hawaiian Electric and others have devised systems to allow customers to decline the meters, according to a 2019 report by Navigant Research. The firm is now known as Guidehouse.
“Vocal customers have raised privacy and health concerns related to smart meters and their communications networks,” the report found, “and some regulators have mandated opt-out programs to placate those concerns.” The development of opt-out programs “has been addressed in a myriad of ways by electric utilities across the nation.”
“It’s typically a very small number of customers” that take advantage of the opt-out, according to Guidehouse Senior Research Analyst Michael Kelly. The number of customers is usually below 5%, he said in an email.