HEADLINES: The PUC has agreed to explore options for consumers with regards to the new Advanced Metering, aka Smart Meters.
What role does the PUC play in regards to the Smart Meter implementation? To be honest, that is a big topic, of which I am not an expert. But, for the purpose of this discussion, it should suffice the reader to know that the PUC of Texas is in existence in part to protect the Texas consumer. I know many of you, as well as myself feel that if they had already been doing their job, Texans would not have had to clamor so loudly simply to protect their health and privacy.
[Please take time to read to the end, or at least scroll down to the bottom to get the recommended action points to take at this junction.]
Many of you may have heard the news- (Finally!) The PUC seems to be coming to the “table” concerning how to answer the public outcry resulting from the “mandatory installations” of smart meters in some areas in Texas. Personally, I could hardly believe my ears! I knew from the start this would be a tough battle to win…and I was reminded of that fact frequently by ‘naysayers’! I know many of you, like myself, have felt the frustration of the ‘David and Goliath’ situation we have found ourselves in as a result of Oncor (or other TDU, depending on your location in Texas), having either slap a ‘Smart Meter’on our house without our informed consent, or knowing that iinstallation would be coming any day now, and there was very little that could be done to stop it [short of a stand-off in the front yard]. We do not know exactly what caused the PUC to finally acknowledge there may be some legitimacy to public concern. But, one thing is for sure, prior to the filing of Devvy Kidd’s Formal Complaint n February 23, 2012, it was like talking to a wall to call either Oncor or the PUC!
Here we are three years after the deployment of the first smart meters were installed in the DFW area in 2009, an approximately 3.5 million installed so far in the Oncor territory that reaches from DFW to the West Texas area. Finally, the PUC seems to be listening, after years of complaints, probably logging into the thousands. No doubt, the Texas PUC has received a variety of consumer complaints, ranging from outrageously high bills to a variety of other concerns about ‘invasion of privacy’ to health concerns, or even actual symptoms that the customer began experiencing after the introduction of a ‘smart meter’ on their home.
The burning question you and I both want to know, “What is the PUC of Texas going to do about the situation we are currently in?” Sources I have heard from, albeit a little on the vague side, say that an Opt-Out is under consideration, but very little details have surfaced to date. Admittedly, I am pleased that the PUC is coming to the table. Let’s say they give us an “Opt-Out” option, but at what price? What are the terms? Is it acceptable that they give us a choice to Opt-Out, but follow suit with California and Maine, and implement a onetime charge followed by a monthly fee for the privilege of maintaining your health and privacy? We as taxpayers are already paying for the entire cost for the meters and deployment thereof, as the utility is always able to pass on any operation cost to the consumers. Rather, I agree with Devvy Kidd, who is the brave lady that on February 23, 2012 filed her Formal Complaint before the PUC of Texas. In her complaint, she has asked that with any work out there be no financial penalty to ‘opt out’. (Read about her complaint here.)
Should we still push for the Total Ban of these Smart Meters not simply accept the Option to “opt-out”?
Although I have been raised to be thankful whenever someone does something for me, and not to be ungrateful, I feel that in this situation that for the benefit of all Texans, we should stand strong for a complete ban of these meters. Why?
Some may question, “Why should we push for a total ban? I can be happy as long as it is not on MY house?” Where would we be if the PUC were to make as a condition of giving us an Opt-Out, that there won’t be any future opportunity to create a total BAN for these smart meters? Unfortunately, this is a very real possibility. They might make this a condition for giving us an Opt Out, so they can continue their desired path, knowing that over time, as people move from one home to another, then, eventually every home will have the meters simply through attrition, and they have accomplished their mission.
On the contrary, now is the perfect time for us as consumers to require that the PUC finally take a very close look at all of the various issues that have been discovered to be problematic since the meters have been brought to market. If the advanced meters (aka smart meters) have, or even potentially have as many negative issues as they are purported to have, then the public at large should be protected from them. It would not be out of the realm of reasonableness for us to expect a moratorium on the smart meters while more testing and research is performed. Whenever a product comes to market, such as the Advanced Meter, there typically are many thresholds of safety and testing the device will go through to protect the public in the area of health, safety and security. However, as a result of additional ARRA (Stimulus) funding, there has been additional infusion of funds that has gone directly into implementing the smart meters according to the PUC Chairman Donna Nelson. Therefore it should be no surprise that the advanced meters were ‘fast-tracked’ (a nice term for ‘rushed’) to market. As a consequence, based on all the research that I have done about the various flaws of the smart meters, it seems to point to the probability that neither adequate research, testing, nor precaution was employed prior to their purchase and installation. The PUC needs to ADMIT the truth, that these “Advanced Meters” were not ready for prime time, and that their deployment was indeed pre-mature, perhaps even reckless at worst. This acknowledgement, in fact needs to include the DOE (Dept. of Energy), the Electricity Industry and all of its Institutions, along with the body that should be governing all the above regarding public safety. Furthermore, I submit, all the Public Utility Commission’s (which go by various similar names, but have the same commission) of the participating states throughout the US should also be held responsible for the lack of readiness of the smart meters. Will these ‘governing bodies’ police themselves? Not without public pressure. Therefore it is incumbent upon those of us who have uncovered the faults and dangers of these “so-called” Smart Meters to hold the PUC to accountability.
- Join your voice to ours – leave your comments below.
- We need to insist that the PUC stop further installations of the smart meters while further research as well as any negotiations are in progress.
- We also need to demand that further research be done that can show that the meters are safe in every regard before continuing on with their implementation.
- Write/call/fax the PUC (of your state, if not in Texas), with your findings, or concerns, as well as your State and Federal Legislators.
- There is additional help in doing this by looking at the “Take Action” tab at the top of this page, on the Menu.