On Feb. 1, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) finalized terms to modify PG&E’s SmartMeter Program to provide an opt-out option, but it will cost you.
Under the plan, customers can opt out for a one-time fee of $75 and a monthly charge of $10. Customers enrolled in the CPUC’s low-income program who opt-out will be on the hook for a lesser $10 fee and a $5 monthly charge.
The new fee schedule is about half of what PG&E originally sought for opt-out customers.
PG&E’s SmartMeter Program integrates energy metering into a modern digital infrastructure. But public outcry over the new system—including complaints over privacy invasion and health risks—forced the company and its regulators to take a closer look at alternatives.
CPUC Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon said in a press release that the finalized opt-out policy is a “great example of how public initiative and participation can result in better regulatory policy.”
PG&E Spokesman Greg Snapper told New Times, “We believe in individual choice when it comes to meters in our customers’ homes and we support the [CPUC’s] decision.”
According to Snapper, the additional cost for opting out of the digital meters allows the utility to make up its costs for creating an infrastructure capable of reading both digital and analog components.
He said the company might increase rates for all customers because of the expense from allowing some people to keep analog meters. The utility has yet to request such a rate hike from the CPUC.
Customers who elected to delay the installation of the new meters will have their new meter installed unless they notify PG&E. Customers can opt-out by calling (866) 743-0263, or filling out an online form at pge.com.