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Smart Meter Opt-Out Options In California

A plan to let San Diego Gas & Electric customers who don't want the new wireless smart meters at their homes to keep the older analog models was given final approval by the California Public Utilities Commission today.

The opt-out plan was requested by the San Diego-based Utility Consumers Action Network, and also applies to Southern California Edison customers. Tentative approval of the arrangement was given last month by an administrative law judge. Opponents of the smart meters express concerns over perceived health risks and privacy issues.

"As we move toward a more advanced electricity grid, smart meters will offer customers real benefits," commission President Michael Peevey said. "However, if a customer does not want to have a smart meter, our decision today gives them that option."

SDG&E customers who choose the analog model will have to pay $75 up front and an extra $10 monthly. Consumers in the "California Alternate Rates for Energy" program would be charged $10 initially and $5 more per month.

Those charges will cover the SDG&E's extra costs for carrying both types of meters, and can be adjusted in the future when the utility's cost-recovery requirements are determined.

The commission also approved 19 measurements for determining the effectiveness of smart grid technology being rolled out by the utilities, including the number of smart meter malfunctions during power outages, increases in the number of consumer complaints over accuracy of the new devices, and the number of smart meters replaced annually before the end of their expected useful life.

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