Keeping your analog meter

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People Who Protest Can Keep Analog Meters

  1. Fill out Opt-Out Application.
  2. Attach or include the analog meter demand letter (Letter Template edited as appropriate for you).
  3. Cc as many people in power as possible such as Seattle City Council members, key Seattle City Light staff, local city councils (i.e. Shoreline, Normandy Park, Lake Forest Park, …), and the Seattle City Attorney.
  4. Call Seattle City Light until you are definitely  added to the exemption list that indicates you want to retain your analog meter; this list is managed by Kelly Enright (Customer Care Director for AMI Deployment).
  5. Continue to call and email  until you have it in writing in an email or on paper.

 

There have been numerous successes to date of people keeping their analog meter and a few where the Landis+Gyr opt-out meter was removed and an analog meter returned to the property owner. You just need to be persistent. They are reluctant to agreeing with a real opt-out to their AMI program. They are not making it easy. People who rent need to work with the owners of their property. Condos and apartments are almost entirely excluded from opting out; the policy states there must be 4 units or less to qualify and everyone has to agree. We have one customer who is a renter at a 10 unit apartment complex that got all the agreements and a letter from the owner, they got a verbal agreement to allow them to opt-out, that was later reneged on by Seattle City Light. They are still fighting.


Opt-Out

Applications are available here. We recommend:

  1. Do not include personal health information in the reasons field, simply state “health concerns”; other reasons stated simply could be: violation of 4th Amendment, fire risks, privacy risks, cyber security threats to power grid, or just personal reasons.
  2. Send it via certified mail.
  3. Email a PDF copy to people in power.
  4. Note: some people are crossing out the application sentence that refers to the Opt-Out meter and writing in an Analog Meter.  Some people have added to the Reason for Opt-Out section of the Opt-Out application that they want to retain their analog meter or will accept a refurbished analog meter if necessary.

Letter Template


 

Key Seattle City Light Staff

Seattle City Council Members (* means they are on the Environment & Energy Committee)

Fax: 206-684-8587, ATTN: Seattle City Council Members

Other Useful People

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SolarFest 2016

FSolar Fest 2016 Sonjaun was had by all. Overall, SUMA-NW was well received at SolarFest this year. We made a presentation at 10AM, just as the fair started. We used a flip chart to make three take-away points:

 

  1. Smart Meters are NOT the Smart Grid
  2. Markets will lead the way NOT the Utilities
  3. Take Action for healthy, cost effective Solutions

The first point is the conflated WP_20160723_11_12_43_Prodefinition and greenwashing clarification. We left this chart up throughout the day and it was an eye-opener to most people. All along, people were surprised that being against so called “smart” meters did NOT mean we were against the actual “smart” GRID. This is very important information. Our booth emphasized the fire hazard today.

“Smart” Meters

“Smart” Grid

Centralized Revenue Control No New Meters required
Fire Hazard Distributed Renewable Energy Generation
Costly (Capital, rates, TOU) Sensors for outage detection
Loss of Privacy Electricity Supply/Demand Balancing
Health Risk Reduces use of Fossil Fuels
Grid Vulnerability by Hacking (9/30 substations) Creates Green Jobs
Negative Environmental impact
Automation = Job Loss

WP_20160723_11_19_02_ProThe second point was about Utilities versus the Markets. The Markets will be the driving force of rooftop solar energy and any renewable energy generation. The Utilities are stuck in a century old model that cannot change with the times. Seattle City Light for all its virtues as a carbon neutral, green energy provider are forced to focus on economies-of-scale, reducing costs by automating billing and other field services with “smart” meters. Demand for electricity, especially among residential customers, is going down just with conservation and energy efficiency programs. The Utility simply CANNOT afford to support decentralized, renewable energy. This is why incentives are being reduced and solar is NOT being promoted.

Utilities Market
Centralized Distributed
Fixed production Innovative
Inflexible Flexible
Need to control users Independence
Need to maintain or increase demand Installations of Solar up 94% since 2015
Economies of Scale Solar power becoming more affordable
Increasing rates built in Decreasing cost built in
Monopoly, no incentive to change Driving innovation and change
1 producer, many users Many producers, many users

WP_20160723_11_28_30_ProFinally, we talked solutions, what actions can we the public take to move the conversation towards progress, cost effective, renewable energy integration into the electricity grid. We started the conversation with these obvious ideas:

 

Solutions

Construction Codes
Incentive Policies
Community Organizing
Need Storage R&D

One person in our audience suggested creating special loan products that allowed people to pay the same monthly rate for electricity but to a loan provider, and the loan could be sold with the house. What a brilliant idea.

Solar Fest 2016-rs2Thanks to John Frink, Nancy Morris, Carolyn Mateos, and Sonia Hoglander for manning the booth. Thanks to Cher and David Ward for helping with equipment and materials.

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Solar Incentives for Washington

Current Incentives

The following is a summary of the main tax credits and incentives that are currently in place to make solar more affordable to those interested in installing a solar system in Washington. Click for a list of Washington utilities to find out more about your utility’s solar programs including net metering, if your utility participates in the state production incentive program, interconnection, and more.

Federal Income Tax Credit

The Solar Investment Tax Credit (“ITC”) is a federal tax credit for solar systems placed on residential (under Section 25D) and commercial (under Section 48) properties. In December 2015, Congress acted to extend the 30% tax credit through 2019 with a step down in subsequent years: to 26% in 2020, to 22% in 2021, and thereafter it is 0 (zero) for home-owners and 10% for businesses.
The Wind Production Tax Credit declines on a different schedule than the tax credit for solar. Learn more about wind from American Wind Energy Association at http://www.awea.org/.

Sales Tax Exemption in Washington State

Solar PV systems of 10kW or less are exempt from sales tax. This exemption is available to both residential and commercial customers. This exemption will expire June 30, 2018. Click for more information.

Washington State Production Incentive

Passed unanimously by the Washington State Legislature in 2005, the Production Incentive was created using the following language.
“The legislature finds that the use of renewable energy resources generated from local sources such as solar and wind power benefit our state by reducing the load on the state’s electric energy grid, by providing nonpolluting sources of electricity generation, and by the creation of jobs for local industries that develop and sell renewable energy products and technologies.”
EXCERPT from RCW 82.16.110
By rewarding property owners for installing Made-in-WA solar systems at a higher rate, the hope was to launch clean renewable energy manufacturing in our state.
The Production Incentive is an annual payment based upon the total kilowatt hours (kWh) produced by a solar photovoltaic (PV), biogas, or wind system up to a maximum payment of $5000 annually.
Incentive rates are based upon a base rate of up to $.15/ kWh for equipment made out of state. The combination of a WA Made inverter with out of state solar panels earns up to $.18/ kWh. The combination of WA made panels with out of state inverter earns up to $.36 and when both the inverter and panels are Made in WA, the maximum incentive rate is $.54/ kWh for homes and businesses. Community Solar projects earn at a rate that is double the rate for an individual property owner (home or business owner).
The funding comes out of Public Utility Taxes that each utility would otherwise pay to the State. Utilities are charged with reading the meters and tracking the annual payments to customer generators.
Not only is there a cap of $5000 on the amount of funds any individual (or couple) can earn, there is also a cap of how much each utility can redirect out of their taxes they would be paying to the state. Each utility’s annual pool of funds available to pay the Production Incentive is capped at .5% of their taxable sales for the year.
The Production Incentive program expires June 30, 2020 and no payments will be made for kWh generated after that date.
To find out how the caps affect the incentive rates your utility is paying, you must contact your utility. It is different for each one. Some utilities simply closed their solar programs and are not allowing more people to join them. Others are reducing the payment to each participant and continuing to keep the doors open for new participants.
NOTE: During the 2016 Legislative Session in Olympia, HB 2346 was introduced to address the problem of declining incentives and to keep adoption of solar moving forward. HB 2346 passed the House but did not pass the Senate. It would have raised the cap allowing utilities to spend up to 2% of taxable sales on solar incentives. It also would have created a new incentive program at lower rates to help continue the amazing growth of solar in our state.
The Washington Production Incentive is the primary reason why the growth of solar in WA has been so strong in recent years. Click to view a chart showing the number of solar systems added each year from 2005 to 2015, courtesy of WSU Energy Office.
List of equipment approved for “Made in Washington” Renewable Energy Systems Cost Recovery Incentive payments. Click to view list.

Local Incentives

Snohomish County PUD, Chelan PUD and possibly others offer local incentives for home-owners and businesses who go solar. Inquire with your utility to find out if they offer any unique solar incentives. Here is a link to a comprehensive list of PUDs and utilities in Washington state.

Net Metering

Net metering allows system owners to receive credit for excess electricity produced by their system.  Net-metered systems that produce more electricity than needed are credited for the excess production at retail electric rates on the next month’s utility bill.  Credits carry forward month to month for a year period ending annually on April 30. Remaining credits are zeroed out on May 1 with no payment to the customer. Click for more information.

For businesses – MACRS Depreciation of Solar Energy property

The Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) is a method of depreciation for some tangible property for tax purposes. Qualifying solar energy equipment is eligible for a cost recovery period of five years. The market certainty provided by MACRS has been found to be a significant driver of private investment for the solar industry and other energy industries. For equipment on which an Investment Tax Credit (ITC) or a 1603 Treasury Program grant is claimed, the owner must reduce the project’s depreciable basis by one-half the value of the 30% ITC. This means the owner is able to deduct 85 percent of his or her tax basis. The amount of the project cost that is eligible for a Bonus Depreciation is based upon the year of installation.
Special thanks to NW SEED for its contribution to the information found on this page. 
Disclaimer: The information presented on the Solar Washington web site provides an unofficial overview of financial incentives and other policies. It does not constitute professional tax advice or other professional financial guidance, and it should not be used as the only source of information when making purchasing decisions, investment decisions or tax decisions, or when executing other binding agreements. Please refer to the individual contact provided in each summary  or linked information to verify that a specific financial incentive or other policy applies to your project.
While the Solar Washington staff strives to provide the best information possible, Solar Washington make no representations or warranties, either express or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of the information. Solar Washington disclaims all liability of any kind arising out of your use or misuse of the information contained or referenced on Solar Washington Web pages. Page Here
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Port Angeles Cancels “Smart” Meters

City Settles Smart Meter Conflict

City officials are quick to express appreciation to Mueller’s approach in resolving the issues regarding the city’s Advance Metering Infrastructure Project. “We are very pleased with the resolution of the issues surrounding settlement talks. We will not be moving forward with the Advanced Metering Infrastructure Project” said city manager; Dan McKeen. “This settlement agreement allows us the ability to move forward replacing many of the outdated, inaccurate water and electric meters” continued McKeen. Residents having analog meters attaining 99% accuracy may request to keep them in place.

Customers Choose Preferred Meter

Rate payers now have the option to select a digital meter if they prefer. Those who have the smart meters already installed will have it changed out for a non-radio frequency digital “dumb” meter. The difference is, these digital meters do not have a radio transmitter attached. The radio transmitter sends meter readings to a central location and removes the necessity for manual meter reading. It is the radio transmitter and its electro- magnetic pulsing that causes discomfort for those sensitive to the electro-magnetic fields inherent in the design of smart meters. The digital meter readout is much like a clock face. Anyone can read their digital meter and gauge their consumption. The new digital meters have no radio frequency transmitter. All installed smart meters with transmitters will be removed and replaced with digital meters without transmitters. The city will work with those residents who prefer an analog meter.

Lawsuit Avoided-Money Saved

The city, under the leadership of city attorney; Bill Bloor put together a legal team including attorneys whose specialty is municipal contracting issues. After a series of meetings with Mueller’s legal team the issues were ironed out to everyone’s satisfaction. “This avoids costly lawsuits which could drag on for years and hobble the city’s efforts to replace meters not functioning correctly” said Bloor.

City Receives Full Value For Money Spent

To date the city has paid approximately $1.7 million to Mueller. When the contract got bogged down the city contracted with West Monroe Partners to examine the issues and suggest corrective measures.

The settlement agreement covers these expenditures too. The city will get back full value for the smart meters already installed and those in stock in city warehouses.

Cash and Credits For Future Purchases

Part of the settlement includes the city being issued a credit for materials returned. This credit can be spent for non-radio equipped electric meters as well as water meters which the city will change out over the next few years as older inaccurate meters are identified and removed.

Transmitters in Water Meters Removed Too

Some of the water meters already installed have the radio transmitters. This module will be removed without the cost of changing out the entire water meter. The radio transmitters removed from water meters will be returned and a credit of approximately $70 each will accrue to the city. City staff will remove the module. All transmitter equipped water meters now in the city’s possession and not installed will be returned for cash.

Un-installed Smart Meters Returned

All electric smart meters in the city’s possession and not installed will be shipped back to Mueller’s for full refund. The city has sufficient digital meters in-stock to replace those requested by rate payers who do not want the radio frequency style smart meters. According to Craig Fulton; Public Works Director “In addition to the meters that were not installed, all currently installed smart meters will be removed and returned to Mueller for a refund, and replaced with meters without radios. This will take some time.” According to city manager; Dan McKeen, “It is always better to resolve these issues without litigation. Going to court could take two to three years and cost up to $500,000 in legal fees. Even then the outcome would be determined by others. With this agreement we remain in control of the outcome.”

Remaining Funds to Offset Future Rate Increases

The city’s initial approval for the program amounts to $4.5 million dollars spread over the three departments including electric, water and waste water. The money left over in the program will be split between these city departments to reduce the amount of scheduled rate increases.

Protestors Pleased

Edna Willadsen; a smart meter opponent from the beginning says, “Good job city council and all the employees who took part in turning around the smart meter program. I no longer need Tums and Advil to attend city council meetings.”

Judi Hangartner; originator of the “Smart Meter Awareness” group said, “I would like to thank the City staff and the Council members for listening to our great concerns regarding the radio frequency meters. This great news will help other cities look at what Port Angeles accomplished. Happy medium for both sides.”

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Videos: “The High Road to a True Smart Grid” Conference

Videos: “The High Road to a True Smart Grid” Conference

SchoechleBelow are presentations from a range of experts at a conference entitled The High Road to a True Smart Grid,  held at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on 28 January 2014.

The program cut through misunderstandings about the value of the ‘smart meters’ being rolled out across the country, and the misguided direction of electricity and energy policy in the U.S.  The panelists outlined a blueprint for a safer and smarter approach to both electricity generation and distribution in the United States—one that has all of our best interests, and the interests of planet Earth, at heart.

The conference featured an integrated interdisciplinary panel including Timothy Schoechle, PhD, author of the white paper “Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid” published by the National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy (NISLAPP).

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