The Arizona Corporation Commission yesterday approved a $5 monthly fee for APS electricity customers who opt out of using smart meters. These meters, considered the standard by APS, wirelessly communicate a home’s energy use to the utility, and in turn allow customers to review their energy usage patterns on APS’ web site in near-real time.
The fee applies to just a handful of customers, however, and they likely know who they are.
The vast majority of APS’ more than 1 million residential customers have a smart meter, sometimes called an automated meter. If you didn’t call APS and request to opt-out, then you have the standard smart meter, APS spokesperson Anna Stewart told North Phoenix News. The smart meters “allow customers to have more control over their energy use, have the potential to reduce outage times and offer environmental benefits,” Stewart said.
Customers who requested to use the old meters cite health, safety and privacy concerns. APS has to send employees out to manually read those meters before billing.
There were just 15,485 residents using the opt-out meters as of June 30, Stewart said. Those customers will now be subject to the $5 monthly fee. Also, anyone requesting an opt-out meter starting Oct. 1 will be charged a one-time fee of $50 in addition to the monthly charge.
A similar fee structure was introduced in 2014 and then rescinded by the Corporation Commission in 2015. The re-institution of the fee this week was considered during the commission’s approval of a broader APS rate hike last month but then broken off and handled separately.
Customers with opt-out meters are “ineligible for certain rate plans and other programs, and will not have access to the additional detailed data regarding their usage,” APS states.