GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Pacific Power will keep charging people who refuse to use a smart meter, the utility company said in a statement.
The new digital meters—installed free of charge—can help shorten outages and provide usage data to increase efficiency, Pacific Power said. Customers can even track their usage hour-by-hour in order to make any adjustments to reduce their power usage. This data will be available via a secure website.
The smart meter rollout in Josephine County was met with concern from community members. Some of them took an issue with alleged radiation emissions, others were worried about privacy.
Pacific Power said the effects of electromagnetic radiation are minimal, and the benefits of the meters will be great for the community overall. However, some people don’t think the tradeoff is worth it, and they’re taking issue with the company’s fees if they choose not to install one, calling the “opt-out” charge akin to extortion.”
Pacific Power said customers who choose to opt out would be charged an estimated $36 a month. Customers who request the removal of an existing smart meter will be charged a one-time fee of $169.
In October of 2018, Josephine County commissioners passed an ordinance to put limits Pacific Power’s plans in their county and take the teeth out of the opt-out charge.
However, the Oregon Public Utility Commission is in control of utility fees.
On February 21, Pacific Power announced until a resolution is reached, they’ll be forced to disregard the Josephine County ordinance, as they’re under “legal obligation to charge the approved opt-out tariffs determined by the Public Utility Commission…”
Pacific Power stated, “We urge customers in Josephine County who have opted out of the upgrade to continue to pay applicable fees, in order to stay current on their account and avoid disconnection for non-payment and additional fees to reconnect.”
Customers can contact Pacific Power by calling 866-869-8520 with any questions.