McDuffie Introduces Bill Allowing Electric Utility Customers to Opt-Out of the Smart Meter Program

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For Immediate Release:
May 15, 2013

Washington, DC – Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie (D – Ward 5), Chair of the Committee on Government Operations, along with Councilmember Yvette Alexander (D – Ward 7), filed legislation today to provide electric utility customers with an opportunity to opt-out of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure Program – also known as  “smart meters.”

In 2009, the Council of the District of Columbia passed the “Advance Metering Infrastructure and Cost Recovery Act” which authorized power companies to implement smart meter programs for all customers.  Smart Meters are capable of measuring, recording, storing, and reporting detailed power usage for customers.  Typically, smart meters send information on power use to the power company using electromagnetic frequencies, eliminating the need for meter readers. Many residents have enjoyed the convenience of not having a company meter reader enter their property, and the ability to receive detailed information on their daily power use. However, others have raised serious privacy, safety, and health concerns related to the use of smart meters.

“I heard from many residents both during the Committee’s oversight hearings and through many phone calls to my office about their concerns with the smart meter program,” said Councilmember McDuffie. “There is a lot of debate about the safety of smart meters; however, I believe this is about giving customers a choice. My legislation provides District residents with an alternative by requiring power companies to offer an opt-out of the smart meter program.”

Recently, the Public Service Commission (PSC) held that they lacked the statutory authority to allow customers to opt-out. This legislation would require an opt-out provision be put in place, and vest the PSC with the authority to determine the type and cost of available opt-out options.

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