Decision Delayed on PSO’s Smart Meter Opt-Out Plan

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission decided Wednesday to take under advisement the recommendation of a Commission Administrative Law Judge that PSO be allowed to charge a one-time fee plus monthly charges to customers who prefer to opt out of the utility’s smart meter program.

The judge made the recommendation in October 2015 and the commission had planned to consider the matter during the Wednesday signing agenda. However, the absence of Commissioner Dana Murphy forced Commissioners Bob Anthony and Todd Hiett to decide to delay any decision until she could attend.

Judge Ben Jackson ruled in support of PSO’s plan to “punish” those customers who chose not to have smart meters installed at their homes.

The plan called for PSO to charge a one-time $183 fee and a $28 monthly feet to manually read the alternative meters.

“The fees are not fair, just and reasonable,” argued Dara Derryberry, an Assistant Attorney General. “They are high, based not on actual costs but on estimated costs.”

She argued if there were to be any one-time fee for “opting out” it should be much lower as should any monthly fees.

“We’re asking here in the name of fairness to opt out customers that cost recovery should be disallowed. Those who opt out and want the old system should not be punished.”

PSO customer Joe Esposito of Owasso, an opponent of smart meters because of health issues told the commission PSO is not authorized as a telecommunications company to use the smart meters. He claimed there is admitted vulnerability to “hackers” and the smart meter program has “multiple fronts of problems including fire hazards.”

“We’re damaging people here,” maintained Esposito who raised the health issue of hypersensitivity.

Attorney Jack Fite, representing PSO disagreed with the Attorney General’s argument.

“The ALJ was right on,” he said in referring to the cost analysis and the proposed opt-out fees.

Attorney Judith Johnson, representing the Commission’s Public Utilities Division agreed with Fite.

In the end, Commissoners Anthony and Hiett agreed to “take the issue under advisement.”





   













The second issue to possibly be decided by the Commission is the issue of PSO?s controversial smart meter ?opt out? plan. Administrative Law Judge Ben Jackson urged the commission last year to punish those customers who chose not to have smart meters at their homes. Under PSO?s plan, the utility would charge at one-time feeof $183 and a $28 monthly fee to manually read the alternative meters. The judge also ruled the commission does not have the jurisdiction to create a moratorium on the installation of the mart meters for PSO customers. Attorney General Pruitt?s office argued in support of a $38 opt-out charge and no monthly fees.



Judge Jackson also ruled that the health concerns raised by PSO customers opposed to the smart meters should be addressed to the Federal Communications Commission.



At the time of the judge?s ruling, a spokeswoman for PSO said at least 1,675 customers wanted to opt-out of the smart meter plan.




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