CHIMACUM — The Jefferson County Public Utility District’s proposed opt-out policy would allow customers to choose between a radio frequency transmitting electric meter or a non-transmitting analog electric meter.
Staff and Public Utility District (PUD) commissioners met at the Chimacum Fire Station on Wednesday morning to discuss the policy and to hear from the public.
Approximately 40 people attended the meeting.
After the presentation and a discussion led by Kevin Streett, general manager of the PUD, commission chair Jeff Randall asked the staff to write a resolution so the commissioners can adopt the opt-out program. No date had been set as of Wednesday for a vote on the matter.
“We need to provide an op-out policy for people right now,” said Kenneth Collins, District 2 commissioner.
“I think being able to provide people with the option of having a non-[radio frequency] meter needs to be available now for people who feel they are in danger of a transmitting meter.”
The opt-out program would allow PUD customers to decide if they will use the radio frequency (RF) electric meter that transmits the reading for billing and is now the standard for the PUD or choose to use a non-RF meter that would have to be read by the PUD manually.
Customers who chose to opt out would pay an additional $5 a month fee to cover the installation, reading, maintenance and operation of the meter.
The opt-out program would be available only for residential users who are not on solar power. The meters have to be accessible from the outside of the building. In many cases, commercial buildings will have them internally locked, Streett said.
“Commercial meters are not included with this because the meters may not be accessible,” Randall said.
Solar customers require a special type of meter that can measure both the incoming electricity gathered through their panels and from PUD, which an analog meter wouldn’t be able to measure accurately, officials said.
In terms of home businesses, Streett said many are still under the “rate seven” residential rate, but there are some that are under “rate 24” for small commercial businesses.
Only those under rate seven would possibly be eligible.
Customers asked about the possibility of self-reporting their meter readings instead of paying for a worker to come check it on their property, but Streett said that doing so was almost more work on the PUD, which would still have to dedicate staff time to input the data and have the meters verified; it is streamlined by having a professional do it.
“I like having the meter readers,” said Dan Toepper, District 3 commissioner. “We’re more accountable for keeping people accountable.”
For renters/non-property owners to opt-out, both the account owner and the property owner must agree on the new meter, however if there is a dispute, the property owner has final say.
The commissioners and staff agreed that low-income customers should be free of the additional $5 fee if they chose to opt-out of the standard meter.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].