If you attended the smart meter part of Lakeland's City commission meeting on Monday, regardless of your position on the topic, the fact that the commission dropped the ball on a few points would have become painfully apparent to you.
1. The commission,(including Randy Dotson, smart meter project manager) is embarrassingly and admittedly uneducated on the smart grid technology/smart meter issue. It is obvious that the City of Lakeland grossly neglected doing its due diligence in researching the implementation of the smart meter program. This is inexcusable considering the cost and magnitude of the project and also considering the level of public outcry.
2. After the meeting, it is now more obvious than ever, that the focus of the majority of the commission has been to nab the available federal grant money, and NOT the health, well-being and financial interests of the community. The lack of concern on the part of about half of those on the platform was appalling. I applaud Howard Wiggs for his apparent concern for the health of the public and his willingness to listen and ask questions.
It was obvious that our Mayor was tiring of listening to valid health and legal concerns when he interrupted a speaker from the audience, stating that the commission had already voted on the issue and were committed to the smart meter program [In spite of his ignorance on the topic and being schooled on the facts, I might add].
3.Incomprehensible and appalling to me is the lack of understanding that the commission has as to the legality of, and manner in which the program was implemented and FORCED on the community.
With a little research you will find that the justification for doing so was to comply with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 which state that the electric utility shall make a time based rate available to the consumer via advanced metering and communication technology or an Advanced Metering Infrastructure(AMI)system.
HOWEVER - In the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Page 6—371, TITLE
XII—ELECTRICITY, Sub-title (E) Amendments to PURPA in SEC. 1252. SMART METERING. It states the following:
Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this paragraph, each electric utility shall offer each of its customer classes, and provide individual customers (and here's the key)- upon customer request,a time-based rate schedule under which the rate charged by the electric utility varies during different time periods and reflects the variance, if any, in the utility’s costs of generating and purchasing electricity at the wholesale level. The time-based rate schedule shall enable the electric consumer to manage energy use and cost through advanced metering and communications technology.
In summary, per the Federal Energy Act of 2005, there is NO Federal mandate for smart meter installation, and not only should consumers not have to op out of the program, if they choose not to participate, BUT, based on Section 1252, no smart meter should be installed on the customers home or business unless the customer requests the time based rate schedule.
Yet, the city commission feels that it can justify imposing a surcharge, opt-out fee, or meter reading fee, on those who have LEGALLY chosen NOT to request a time based rate schedule, thus requiring smart meter installation, and are clearly within the Federal Energy Act of 2005 and the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 by choosing not to so.(This FACT was posed
to the commission at least twice Monday morning, yet the focus was quickly shifted).
Now - I don't know about you, but, I did NOT request a time based rate schedule, thus requiring smart meter installation.
NOTE: I was amazed to learn outside of the meeting, that Lakeland Electric board voted AGAINST the implementation of the program, but was over-ridden by the commission. Why?