Sunday, June 24 , 2018, 7:49 am | Overcast 63º


Public Utilities Commission Suspends SCE’s Smart Meter Opt-Out Fees

Move is in response to protest letter filed by the Consumers Power Alliance

[Noozhawk’s note: Click here for a response from Southern California Edison.]

In response to a protest pleading filed May 24 by the legal team representing the Consumers Power Alliance, a statewide coalition headquartered in Santa Barbara, the California Public Utilities Commission has issued a suspension notice effective June 4 for up to 120 days for staff review of the Southern California Edison advice letter implementing its Smart Meter Opt-Out Plan.

According to CPA’s lead attorney, Jim Tobin, “As long as the advice letter remains suspended, SCE has no authorization to implement the fees, rates or other terms and conditions contained in the advice letter.”

The Consumers Power Alliance May 24 protest was largely focused on a request by the Southern California Gas Company to charge fees for opting out, when SCE had already been authorized to charge opt-out fees. The protest argued that Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric customers, the other two investor-owned utilities governed by the PUC, only have to pay one opt-out fee for gas and electricity.

If the gas company’s request were granted, SCE customers would be forced to pay double, which the CPA alleged is “unjust, unreasonable and discriminatory.” In addition, the CPA protested SCE’s opt-out practices and procedures and cited numerous violations of the spirit of the April 19 opt-out decision.

At this time, the CPA does not know how the staff review will impact opt-out fees for SCE and the gas company or the opt-out practices by SCE protested by the CPA. However, opt-outs are proceeding without pause and the SCE is continuing to install smart meters. As of June 4, the only difference is that customers cannot be billed for fees until the suspension is lifted.

SCE Opt-Outs

SCE customers in Santa Barbara and throughout the state are receiving opt-out letters. They may come certified mail or “critical mail.”

SCE opt-outs have varying default deadlines, depending on where you live. If you were on delay install, you must return the form by the deadline noted in the letter or you will be smart-metered when the installers come back to town — since the SCE will assume you are no longer interested in opting-out if you don’t respond. Due to this short-term default program, it is recommended that customers make a copy of the signed form and return it immediately.

In addition, customers may call 800.810.2369 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Although opt-out plans allow customers to have their smart meter removed at any time for any or no reason, it may take time to get it removed, and you may have to wait for an analog meter.

— Irene Kopel is a board member for the Consumers Power Alliance.


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