I support the Board decision to cover the costs of maintaining old meters by charging those who refused the standard meter. The membership overwhelmingly voted that they agree in the recent ballot election.
Smart meters are key to our smart grid, which will lower rates, help the environment, improve service response time and help members see what appliances or devices are consuming the most energy (especially with the In-Home Displays). Those who refuse the standard meter are keeping rates higher than they need to be, and keeping us dependent on oil longer. But they are not being asked to cover those costs – we all are paying for that. Instead, KIUC is simply charging them their hard costs – the actual costs of reading and maintaining their old non-standard meters.
Before smart meters, KIUC paid about $800,000 a year for meter readers to travel the island for monthly meter reading – over 100,000 miles per year of gas-guzzling, pollution-creating driving. If everyone had smart meters that would be zero today, saving us all money and helping the environment. Instead, because they still have to travel throughout the island to reach the 3,000 nonstandard meters, that cost is now $345,000. The reason that number isn’t $80,000 (10% of the previous cost) is because driving to Haena to read 10 meters is the same mileage and almost the same time as driving to Haena to read 50 meters.
Out of 18 electric cooperatives who took part in the smart meter upgrade at the same time KIUC did, only KIUC allows people to opt out of having a smart meter. All the others simply said “to get electricity, you must have a smart meter.” KIUC provided choice. But with choices come responsibilities. When the choices of a small group of KIUC members cost extra, they should pay for their choice. It’s that simple.
Here are a couple of articles that say it better than I can:
Smart Meters, one last time by Kauai resident Luke Evslin
Musings: One and Only Question by Kauai resident Joan Conrow
Here are some links showing the other power companies that allow opt-out are charging the costs of maintaining old meters to those who refuse the standard meter.