“Smart meters” could face uphill battle in Josephine County

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. – Leaders in Josephine County could hamper Pacific Power’s “smart meter” rollout.

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 electrical power provider started installing smart meters in Josephine County last fall.

The announcement was almost immediately met with concern from community members. Some of them took issue to alleged radiation emissions, other were worried about privacy.

Pacific Power said the effects from 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.”

According to Pacific Power, customers who choose to opt out will be charged $36 a month. Customers who request the removal of an existing smart meter will be charged a one-time fee of $169, with a $36 a month fee.

On October 5, 2018, Josephine County commissioners announced they were considering an ordinance to put limits Pacific Power’s plans in their county.

According to the Board of Josephine County Commissioners, the proposed ordinance would do the following:

  • Prohibit public utilities from requiring persons who decline to accept Smart Meters to pay opt-out fees;
  • Require public utilities to honor requests to replace Smart Meters with non-radio frequency meters provided the customer makes the request 90 days after the effective date of the ordinance;
  • Require public utilities to work to institute alternative reading or reporting methods for customers who request such services.

The ordinance is scheduled for a reading on October 17 at 9:00 a.m. A second reading is tentatively scheduled for October 31.

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