Smart Meter Update Winter 2017

opt-outSUMA-NW advocates and others were unable to halt the Seattle City Light (SCL) “smart” meter deployment in 2016. In 2017 we must focus on getting as many customers to opt-out as possible.

Opt-Out: Submit your opt-out application prior to the start of the meter exchange period, which is currently scheduled by SCL to begin July, 2017, to avoid paying the meter exchange fee. You still have to pay the one-time administrative fee.

Opt-Out application is currently available here, but SUMA-NW finds the Opt-Out Policy completely inadequate:

  • No analog meter option, even though Larry Weis, CEO of SCL, stated to SUMA-NW that analogs would be kept available. Smart meters, including non-communicating digital meters, increased fire hazards and harmful transients.
  • $124.43 upfront administrative fee, $49.77 for people who have qualified for Utility Discount Program (UPD). You will also have to pay for the service you now get for free at $15.87 per billing cycle ($6.35 per billing cycle for UPD) to have your meter read.
  • It is clearly stated in the Opt-Out Policy that the meter base is the responsibility of the property owner. Installations of meters without inspecting and repairing the meter base prior to installation  (the utility may not offer that service) could be dangerous for everyone. We believe that SCL should guarantee in writing that the base is safe and that an inspection has occurred by qualified staff. The reported fires throughout the US are due to increased arcing by digital meters. See Brian Thiesen’s excellent YouTube about fires involving AMI “smart” meters, AMR meters, and digital meters (non- communicating digital meters are safer if installed properly).
  • Renters must have the property owner’s permission in writing.
  • Property owners of multiple-unit buildings cannot opt-out individual units or common area metering.
  • Customers with solar panels who participate in net metering are not eligible to opt-out.

The installations are expected to begin in mid-year 2017. Contact Seattle City Light  (or call Advanced Metering desk at 206-727-8777) to find out when you are scheduled for installation.

Multiple-unit buildings such as condominiums and apartments must get their collectives to agree to opt-out for their entire building. SUMA-NW will be available, as our schedule permits, to come to any gatherings or meetings to explain the “smart” meter issues.

SCL claims that opting out will exclude you from alleged “smart” meter benefits. In reality there are no benefits with this current technology and it has failed to do anything except benefit the wireless industry, power utilities, and third-party marketers. It provides no environmental benefits or energy savings.

The opt-out form will ask you why you are opting out. You do not have to say why if you wish to keep those reasons private. You can simply say for personal reasons. Be aware that SCL now refers to “smart” meters as “standard” meters. This may be SCL’s attempt to normalize a flawed technology policy and hamper people’s own research into the negative aspects of “smart” meters.

We have voiced our concerns about smart meters since early 2014. The Seattle City Council (SCC) believed the greenwashing of this failed technology policy. The council never bothered to comment on the opt-out policy, and never acknowledged that it was not a solution to the serious concerns that are becoming apparent worldwide with the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (“smart” meters). They were told by SCL that not many people sign up to opt-out. If over 50% of people don’t qualify, it is obvious why that is the case.

We still need people to voice their outrage at wasting millions of dollars on “smart” meters (standard meters) with all their inherent risks and no benefits.  If nothing else, we can be the highest opt-out utility territory in the US.

Write Letters: We encourage people to write letters to SCL, CEO of SCL: Larry Weis, and the SCC Energy and Environment Committee*  to voice your concerns and complaints.

Some suggestions for what to include in your letter:

  • Demand for proof of meter base inspection (see #3 of strategies below)
  • Opt-Out policy complaints
  • Other points from previous letter campaigns

SCL_Advanced_Metering@seattle.gov                                         Larry.Weis@seattle.gov                                                                                        Kshama Sawant*: 206-684-8016, kshama.sawant@seattle.gov               Lorena Gonzalez*: 206-684-8802, Lorena.Gonzalez@seattle.gov                Debora Juarez *: 206-684-8807, Debora.Juarez@seattle.gov

SUMA-NW is investigating other strategies including:

  1. Conditional Acceptance has been discussed, but the reality of this option is that it is unenforceable and often dismissed as baseless by utilities. SUMA-NW currently cannot recommend this option until we have completed our research; it does not stop the installation. In theory, Conditional Acceptance uses contract law to demand that the utility guarantee/insure your safety and constitutional rights. Our understanding is that the Utility’s refusal to sign a Conditional Acceptance agreement would allow you to take further legal actions if any of the concerns raised are realized after installation. Jerry Day is the promoter of this strategy; for more information go to his website freedomtaker.com, (scroll toward bottom of page to Downloadable Documents). We also recommend that people sign up for newsletters from TakeBackYourPower.net .
  2. Notice of Liability – is another type of contract strategy with stronger language and intentions that has been initiated by numerous groups around the US and Canada. To learn more about this method, please visit the Take Back Your Power website, specifically here.
  3. Demand Proof of Pre-installation Inspection Affidavit – Demand that Seattle City Light provides a signed document that the meter base has been inspected by a qualified technician prior to installation of the new digital meters, whether it is a wireless meter or an opt-out meter, and the technician has determined that the meter base is safe for installation of the meter. Read more about the hot-socket issues, which can dangerously increase the risk of fire.