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FPL’s $13-a-Month Surcharge on Customers Who Refuse Smart Meters Draws Challenges

| October 1, 2014

They're not the enemy. Or the NSA.

They’re not the enemy. Or the NSA.

State regulators Tuesday took up a dispute about a Florida Power & Light plan to collect extra money from thousands of customers who refuse to allow “smart” meters to gauge electricity use.

The dispute involves only a fraction of FPL’s customers, but it is part of a broader controversy in which critics say they worry the new meter technology could pose threats to their privacy or health.


The state Public Service Commission earlier this year agreed to allow FPL to collect a $95 “enrollment” fee and $13-a-month surcharges from customers who won’t allow smart meters at their homes. But that prompted customer challenges, which led to a hearing that lasted throughout the day Tuesday and was expected to continue into the evening.

FPL in recent years has installed about 4.5 million smart meters, which in part allow electricity use to be monitored remotely. The utility contends that older-style meters are now “non-standard” and that people who choose to use those meters should pay extra to cover costs such as meter reading. Without those extra charges, FPL says other customers would have to help pick up the tab.

Robert Onsgard, an FPL project manager, testified during Tuesday’s hearing that the utility has worked hard to make sure the charges are “fair and reasonable.”

But attorneys for the consumers spent hours questioning Onsgard and another FPL witness, Terry Deason, about the validity of the charges. For instance, Nathan Skop, an attorney for Loxahatchee residents Daniel and Alexandria Larson, compared the charges to earlier FPL projections about cost savings from new metering — projections that he said had not been met.

“We’ve heard there’s a high level of confidence, but we’ve heard that before,” said Skop, a former member of the Public Service Commission, as is Deason.

As FPL developed the charges, it estimated that 12,000 customers would choose not to use smart meters, though testimony Tuesday indicated the number is currently about 6,700.

But smart meters have drawn opposition, as some homeowners worry the technology could lead to invasions of their privacy and could cause health problems because of radiation emissions. One of the customers challenging FPL, Venice resident Marilynne Martin, raised both issues in a document filed earlier this year in the case.

“Ms. Martin refuses to consent to the installation of smart meters primarily due to her belief that there are negative long-term health effects to sleeping behind an active communication network and she does not consent to her detailed usage data being unnecessarily collected,” the document said.

–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida

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10 Responses for “FPL’s $13-a-Month Surcharge on Customers Who Refuse Smart Meters Draws Challenges”

  1. PC LOVER says:

    Tell her ro wrap herself in aluminum foil !!

  2. Electric Spyer says:

    Big brother is WATCHING you thru your SMART METER. They know if you’ve been sleeping. They know when your a wake. They know if you’ve been using juice, so turn off your Shack & Bake…Ohhhhh…You better not pout, you better not cry, you better turn off your George Foreman Fry..er..Cause FPL is watching you NOW.

  3. THE VOICE OF REASON says:

    I can agree wholeheartedly that if these customers refuse the new meter they should pay the additional costs for their choice. I think the $95 initial fee is unwarranted, but $13 a month for someone to come out just for you seems about right.

    We’re talking about 6,700 people statewide, so it’s not like you could assign 2-3 people to make the rounds. It’s going to be reading one meter here, one there. It’s got to be labor intensive, and the people causing that should have to pay for it.

    • StarZar says:

      The only thing wrong with your theory is…Before any smart meters were installed they used to come out and read the meters without any surcharges. So why should there be any now?

  4. Sherry Epley says:

    WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MONEY FPL IS SAVING BY FIRING ALL THOSE METER READERS?? More jobs gone down the drain!!!!
    I’ve done a bit of research on the technology of smart meters. As far as I could determine, there is no definitive proof that they are safe over the long term. They simply haven’t been tested over years, in a modern residential environment that includes such technologies as cell phones, occasional microwaves, and WIFI. No one knows the cumulative effects of the transmission of wireless radiation, especially in combination with other similar sources. Until smart meters are proven completely safe, I am paying a very unfair additional bill.
    Even the World Health Organization has concerns:
    The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies wireless radiation as a 2B carcinogen, based on studies linking cell phone radiation to brain tumors!
    List of symptoms:
    Sleep problems (insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, night waking, nightmares)
    Stress, agitation, anxiety, irritability
    Headaches, sharp pain or pressure in the head
    Ringing in the ears, ear pain, high pitched ringing
    Concentration, memory or learning problems
    Fatigue, muscle or physical weakness
    Disorientation, dizziness, or balance problems
    Eye problems, including eye pain, pressure in the eyes,
    Cardiac symptoms, heart palpitations, heart arrhythmias, chest pain
    Leg cramps, or neuropathy
    Arthritis, body pain, sharp, stabbing pains
    Nausea, flu-like symptoms
    Sinus problems, nose bleeds
    Respiratory problems, cough, asthma
    Skin rashes, facial flushing
    Urinary problems
    Endocrine disorders, thyroid problems, diabetes
    High blood pressure
    Changes in menstrual cycle
    Hyperactivity or changes in children’s behavior
    Seizures
    Recurrence of cancer
    Taken from EMF Safety Network Survey 2011

  5. YankeeExPat says:

    For those residents with Solar systems on your residence, look to see a sur-charge in 2015. The utilities are getting no push back from the state Utilities review and will be implemented quietly and swiftly.

  6. Seminole Pride says:

    I have the Smart Meter and it has reduced my intake of electricity by 216 kWhs a month, or about $ 21.60 a month. It turns off electricity to certain rooms and appliances during the night, that I do not use. Has been a net savings of about $ 9.00, or about $ 106.00 a year. Good investment.

  7. Todd West says:

    The things will make you deathly sick. If you’re one of over the 20% plus of the population who are electro-magnetic sensitive to begin with, you will be tortured by the things. They are shoddy made and how they operate is NOT as the utility companies state. The ones I’ve tested will get stuck on (sending mode) and remain that way for hours, accumulating in an awful infrasonic phenomenon roaring through whatever structure they things are mounted to. Ever heard of “the hum” millions of people worldwide are complaining about? No? Internet search it, it is unbelievable, and yes, it is caused by low wattage microwave communication systems, just like what smart meters and their signal collection towers use. The things are death traps in more ways than just causing fires.

  8. SurfBrat says:

    Don’t want our smart meter?

    We’re okay with that.

    Then you don’t want our electricity either,

    Problem solved.

  9. Electrician's Daughter says:

    Thank you Todd West of 10/4/14 above!

    What you describe must be the explanation for the literal ROARING that has occurred here, along with a massive “swarming” of high intensity energy filling the room I was in at the time & which also simultaneously violently vibrated the building & me in it! (it cuts off your ability to breathe as it violently vibrates chest cavity, heart, lungs)!

    So, the cause of those “out of control” episodes is that the stupid AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) Smart Meters got stuck in sending mode? Wow, finally a very important yet simple explanation, thank you!

    Todd wrote: “The ones I’ve tested will get stuck on (sending mode) and remain that way for hours, accumulating in an awful infrasonic phenomenon roaring through whatever structure the things are mounted to.”

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