PUD meets on meter opt-out proposal Oct. 16

Posted 9/11/19

Although the Jefferson County Public Utility District’s Board of Commissioners and customers alike had their first opportunity to review the details of a proposed opt-out program for meters at a public meeting Sept. 3, the board ultimately agreed that the matter warranted its own meeting.

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PUD meets on meter opt-out proposal Oct. 16

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Although the Jefferson County Public Utility District’s Board of Commissioners and customers alike had their first opportunity to review the details of a proposed opt-out program for meters at a public meeting Sept. 3, the board ultimately agreed that the matter warranted its own meeting.

The PUD Board is therefore inviting the public to a special meeting on the proposed meter opt-out program on Oct. 16 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Chimacum Fire Hall at 9193 Rhody Drive, since that was the soonest all three board members were available without inconveniencing PUD staff, and the PUD’s other meeting locations were unavailable at that time.

A number of concerns were raised about the first draft of the meter opt-out proposal on Sept. 3, from clarifications of terms to the matter of a $5 opt-out fee.

PUD Commissioner Dan Toepper worried whether the $5 fee was arrived at too arbitrarily, as a “place-holder,” while PUD customer Tom Thiersch warned that not charging a sufficient installation cost could run afoul of Washington state regulations governing the “gifting” of public funds, which are relatively strict.

Fellow utility customer Annette Huenke, a member of the Smart Meters Objectors Group (SMOG), questioned whether those who had opted out from more advanced meters should be expected to share in the infrastructure costs of new systems in which they would not be participating.

Ana Wolpin, another customer and SMOG member, called for a separate special meeting, to address the meter opt-out proposal exclusively, since she had expected her group would have that opportunity to review the draft proposal, then submit their own suggested revisions to it.

And contrary to Thiersch, Wolpin wondered whether it was fair to charge any fee for opting out, citing the levels of electromagnetic hypersensitivity that any proponents of the meter opt-out alternative have said makes it a medical necessity for them.

PUD Legal Counsel Joel Paisner responded by echoing Thiersch’s warnings about the rigidity of state law regarding the gifting of public funds, while PUD Commission Chair Jeff Randall pointed out that a public utility district operates by charging “a blended cost of service.”

The meter opt-out draft proposal can be found under the agenda for the Sept. 3 meeting of the PUD Board of Commissioners, under the “Archives” tab online at jeffpud.org.

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