The proposed decision of the assigned Commissioner in this matter was mailed to the parties in accordance with Section 311 of the Public Utilities Code and comments were allowed under Rule 14.3 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure. Comments were filed on December 12, 2011 by Aglet, SCE, Wilner, DRA, PG&E, TURN, Network, Fairfax, Alameda, EON, CCSF, and Lake. Reply comments were filed on December 19, 2011 by Wilner, SCE, Fairfax, Aglet, CARE, DRA, PG&E, and Network. Informal comments were also received from the public.
In response to comments, the proposed decision has been revised to adopt an analog opt-out option. The proposed decision has also been revised to include a second phase in this proceeding to consider costs and cost allocation issues associated with providing the analog meter opt-out option, as well as issues associated with offering a community opt-out option. Other revisions in response to comments have been made as appropriate.
Findings of Fact
1. PG&E was directed by Commissioner Peevey to submit a proposal that would allow some form of opt-out for PG&E customers who did not wish to have a smart meter with RF transmission.
2. PG&E proposes that the SmartMeter Program be modified to provide residential customers the choice to disable (turn off) the radio inside their gas and/or electric meters.
3. The four possible alternatives for an opt-out option are: (1) SmartMeter with the radio transmission turned off; (2) digital meter with no radio installed; (3) analog meter; and (4) wired smart meter with wired transmission capability.
4. A non-communicating opt-out option would disable certain electric SmartMeter functions.
5. A wired smart meter option cannot currently be used on a large scale and are not available for gas smart meters.
6. Analog meters are unable to track interval energy consumption data.
7. Interval energy consumption data is a key component to attaining California's overall energy objectives.
8. Further review of the feasibility of continuing to offer an analog meter opt-out option may be warranted in the future to ensure that this opt-out option does not impede the full implementation of net metering, demand response and smart grid.
9. PG&E's application provided cost estimates for the radio-off option.
10. PG&E provided cost information for the radio out, analog meter and wired smart meter opt-out options in response to an ALJ Ruling.
11. PG&E's cost estimates assumed that a single opt-out option would be offered.
12. There is an insufficient record to determine whether to allow a community opt-out option.
Conclusions of Law
1. A residential customer should be allowed to opt out of a wireless SmartMeter for any reason, or for no reason.
2. D.10-12-001 determined that PG&E's SmartMeter technology complies with FCC requirements.
3. The best opt-out option to be adopted must balance the concerns expressed by customers against California's overall energy policy.
4. Allowing residential customers an opportunity to opt out of receiving a wireless SmartMeter should not impede ongoing state energy objectives.
5. It is important that the selected opt-out option has the capability to allow customers to take advantage of smart grid benefits.
6. The wired smart meter opt-out option is not cost effective nor currently technologically feasible compared to the other options.
7. Although a non-communicating meter is the preferred opt-out option, it is appropriate to adopt an analog meter opt-out option at this time.
8. Until there is additional information on the costs to offer multiple opt-out options, only a single opt-out option should be offered.
9. There is insufficient evidence in the record to determine whether to allow the opt-out option to be exercised by local entities and communities.
10. Since PG&E's implementation of the SmartMeter Program is consistent with the requirements of D.06-07-027, it should be allowed to recover the costs associated with the opt-out option to the extent those costs are found to be appropriate, reasonable and not already being recovered in rates.
11. A residential customer selecting the opt-out option should be assessed an initial charge and a monthly charge.
12. A discount should be provided to customers enrolled in the CARE and FERA programs.
13. There should be a second phase in this proceeding to consider cost and cost allocation issues associated with offering the analog opt-out option.
14. The modifications to the SmartMeter Program should implemented as quickly as possible.
15. An interim initial fee and monthly charge for customers electing the opt-out-option should be assessed until a final decision on cost and allocation issues is issued.
16. PG&E should be authorized to establish two-way electric and gas Modified SmartMeter Memorandum Accounts to track revenues and costs associated with providing the opt-out option until a final decision on cost and allocation issues is issued.
17. The September 21, 2011 Assigned Commissioner's Ruling directing the utilities to allow residential customers to be placed on a delay list should no longer be applicable for PG&E.
IT IS ORDERED that:
1. Pacific Gas and Electric Company's SmartMeter Program is modified to include an option for residential customers who do not wish to have a wireless SmartMeter installed at their location to have an analog meter.
2. Within 15 days of the effective date of this order, Pacific Gas and Electric Company shall file a Tier 1 advice letter in compliance with General Order 96-B. The advice letter shall be served on the service list in Application 11-03-014. The advice letter shall include tariff sheets to modify PG&E's SmartMeter Program to include an opt-out option for customers who do not wish to have a wireless SmartMeter installed at their location and to implement a SmartMeter Opt-Out Tariff. The Advice Letter filing shall:
a. Establish procedures for residential customers to select the option to have an analog meter if they do not wish to have a wireless SmartMeter.
b. Establish procedures to inform customers that a SmartMeter opt-out option is available. A customer currently on the delay list shall be informed that the customer will be scheduled to receive a wireless SmartMeter unless the customer elects to exercise the opt-out option.
c. Adopt the following interim fees for residential customers selecting the opt-out option:
For Non-CARE and Non-FERA Customers:
Initial Fee $75.00
Monthly Charge $10.00/month
For CARE and FERA Customers:
Initial Fee $10.00
Monthly Charge $5.00/month
d. Establish new two-way electric and gas Modified SmartMeter Memorandum Accounts to track revenues and costs associated with providing the SmartMeter opt-out option.
3. The September 21, 2011 Assigned Commissioner's Ruling directing the utilities to allow residential customers who had not yet received a wireless SmartMeter to retain their analog meter and to be placed on a delay list shall no longer be in effect for Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
4. Pacific Gas and Electric Company shall comply with the guidelines stated in Section 7 of this decision.
5. Application 11-03-014 remains open.
This order is effective today.
Dated February 1, 2012, at San Francisco, California.
MICHAEL R. PEEVEY
TIMOTHY ALAN SIMON
CATHERINE J.K. SANDOVAL
MARK J. FERRON
Commissioner Michel Peter Florio, being
necessarily absent, did not participate.
I will file a written concurrence.
/s/ TIMOTHY ALAN SIMON
Concurrence of Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon on Item 28 [Decision 12-02-014] Decision Modifying PG&E's SmartMeter Program to include an Opt-Out
Decision (D.) 12-02-014 modifies Pacific Gas & Electric Company's (PG&E's) SmartMeter Program to include an opt-out option for residential customers who prefer having analog electric and/or gas meters installed on their premises rather than wireless SmartMeters. This Decision adopts interim customer charges, to be finalized in Phase 2 of this proceeding, in the amount of a $10.00 one-time fee and a $5.00 monthly charge for California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE)60 customers and a $75.00 one-time fee and a $10.00 monthly charge for non-CARE customers. These charges compensate PG&E for the incremental costs of purchasing, installing, and servicing the analog meters installed under the subject opt-out program, as well as, for the added labor costs for PG&E employees to physically read the analog meters.
It is worth emphasizing that these interim charges are based on a projected number of customers electing to opt out and, because no one knows at this point the ultimate program cost, PG&E is directed in this Decision to track associated revenues and costs in a two-way Modified SmartMeter Memorandum Account.61 This proceeding remains open until the Final Decision is issued that will assign recoverable costs, establish the appropriate customer allocation, and true-up the tracking account.
I support this Decision; however, as the Assigned Commissioner to the Low Income Oversight Board (LIOB) and this Commission's energy public purpose programs, I am particularly concerned about how the cost of providing an opt-out choice will impact CARE customers. If, in the final analysis, program revenue requirements are greater than is being projected in this Decision, I will not be inclined to support additional burdens on CARE customers and will seek, instead, consideration of other possibilities to socialize the cost.
Even with my above mentioned concerns regarding CARE impact, I do support this Decision because I sincerely believe the underlying "smart" wireless technology is an important conservation and market-shaping tool for important policy objectives including, but not limited to, energy efficiency, demand response, and load shifting. I further support today's Decision as demonstrative of how public initiative and participation can shape better regulatory policy.
Contrary to anti-wireless activist health concerns, as described in the Decision, neither the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE),62 the National Council on Radiation Protection and
Measurements (NCRP),63 the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST),64 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nor the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have expressed concerns about human exposure to SmartMeter radio frequency emissions. I find no reason to distrust the data dismissing the existence of health impacts of this important global technology. I hope, going forward, more awareness of the societal benefits will counterbalance the one-sided objections voiced at this Commission.
As I have pointed out in speeches and meetings in the Silicon Valley and in wireless industry forums, I am astonished that beneficiaries of wireless technologies-including, for example, programmers of iPhone and Android applications, analysts who mine and aggregate usage data to hedge commodity risks, retailers who offer internet access, and their customers who seek out public WiFi-have been "radio silent" throughout this proceeding and in the general public forum. I urge them to come forward and to speak in support of their beneficial interests.
In closing, I believe the FCC's jurisdiction in the regulation of radio-frequency supersedes that of the States,65 but I am a huge advocate of due process and I believe States have an obligation to protect the health and welfare of their citizens. Hence I encourage those opposing wireless smart meter technology to utilize this Commission's rules and procedures to support opening a proceeding which will formally examine the health impacts of this emerging technology. If such an action is taken, participation by the California Health and Human Services Agency and other agencies with jurisdiction over health impacts of emerging technologies should be sought and encouraged.
Dated February 9, 2012, at San Francisco, California.
60 The CARE program provides a monthly discount on energy bills for income-qualified households and housing facilities. Qualifications are based on the number of persons living in a home and total annual household income
61 A two-way memorandum account allows a utility to track authorized costs and revenues. Overcollections are refunded and undercollections are recoverable through rates.
62 Established in1957, the IEEE is dedicated to advancing innovation and technological excellence for the benefit of humanity. It serves professionals involved in all aspects of the electrical, electronic and computing fields and related areas of science and technology that underlie modern civilization. http://www.ieee.org/about/ieee_history.html.
63 NCRP seeks to formulate and widely disseminate information, guidance and recommendations on radiation protection and measurements which represent the consensus of leading scientific thinking. It has been active in the areas of radiation protection and measurements since its inception as "The Advisory Committee on X-Ray and Radium Protection" in 1929. http://www.ncrponline.org/AboutNCRP/Our_Mission.html.
64 Page 13 of D12-02-014 quotes the CCST's recently released finding that "[s]cientific studies have not identified or confirmed negative health effects from potential non-thermal impacts of RF emissions such as those produced by existing common household electronic devices and smart meters." CCST was established in 1988 by unanimous vote of the State Legislature to offer expert advice to the state government on issues of science and technology policy. http://www.ccst.us/about.php.
65 National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. The Act requires federal agencies to evaluate the environmental effects of their actions. To meet this mandate, the FCC adopted requirements for evaluating the impact of human exposure to radio frequency (RF) energy emitted by FCC-regulated transmitters and facilities. FCC rules require permit and license applicants to certify that the facility or device complies with the RF exposure guidelines, or to prepare an Environmental Assessment.