On a majority vote, Chelan County PUD commissioners authorized staff on Monday, December 5, 2017, to move forward with advanced, two-way metering as a preferred alternative for future customer meters and as part of a new customer technology program. PUD Commissioners reviewed extensive outreach and research done since 2005 and heard from seven customers who spoke at Monday’s meeting about health and safety concerns. Several asked for an “opt-in” provision rather than “opt-out” if an eventual decision is reached on installing the smart meters.
John Stoll, Customer Utilities managing director, said there is value for customers by combining the customer information system with features that use data provided by advanced meters that includes:
- Faster and more accurate outage notification and faster service restoration
- Faster response on billing questions
- Ability to manage a PUD account from anywhere
- More accurate billing and fewer estimated bills
- Less need for a PUD employee to enter customer property
- Easier energy use management
- Help to decide if a conservation program will save money
Commissioner Ann Congdon said it was a difficult decision, but she voted against taking the next step toward advanced meters. “There are too many negatives, for my part, in terms of health effects,” she said.
All board members thanked those who spoke for sharing their opinions and concerns. Commissioner Garry Arseneault urged them to take their concerns about the technology to other authorities with responsibilities for controlling the use of radio frequencies in our daily lives, too.
Chelan County PUD General Manager Steve Wright said the board’s decision will aid the planning process, with details to be developed as part of system design and asking for proposals on specific equipment. Plans are to ask commissioners for a decision to proceed with a request for proposals for advanced meters in about a year.
(By Kimberlee Craig)