‘Opt-Out’ Proposed For Controversial Guam Power Meters

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‘Opt-Out’ Proposed For Controversial Guam Power Meters Utilities commission chair says nothing to fear from smart metering

By Louella Losinio

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Oct. 31, 2012) – Consolidated Commission on Utilities (CCU) Chairman Simon Sanchez yesterday announced CCU has requested Guam Power Authority management to study off-island communities that allow power consumers to opt out of smart metering services to find out what’s the best policy that would work for Guam.

The announcement was made during last night’s village meeting for the smart meter project in Dededo.

Preliminary research, Sanchez said, shows communities with an opt-out policy charge an extra fee for citizens who choose to opt out of a smart meter program.

"This is because there is a cost to go with your meter, and that cost shouldn’t be paid by all the other customers who refuse not to opt out," Sanchez explained.

Sanchez said there is an overwhelming positive response from the communities that have put in smart meters – with less than 1 percent of the community opting out of the system.

"Most people, when they use it, accept it. It is conventional technology and there’s nothing to be afraid of," Sanchez said.

"And it has been used for years now. More and more communities are using it. It is the way transmission and distribution will be revolutionized for the next 20 or 30 years," Sanchez further said.

Sen. Tom Ada, the Legislature’s utilities chairman, said he took the time to look up information about the smart meters and have seen that there are benefits to the technology.

"But I do have some questions, especially from some people who walk away tonight not convinced that smart meters are good for them. I know that the CCU is working on getting a policy together. But before that happens, what happens in the interim?" Ada inquired.

Around 20 people attended the first village meeting on the deployment of the smart meters last night. The Dededo meeting was the first of a series of village meetings convened for the project.

GPA Communications Manager Art Perez facilitated the discussion, starting with an overview of the project which highlighted the benefits of the new metering technology to consumers.

Advantages presented included the ability to control consumption and budget through the prepaid option introduced by GPA.

"But we respect those with a different point of view. We will look at this idea of opting out," Sanchez said during the meeting.

Questions posed by the Dededo residents include installation processes and fees associated with multi-family housing metering. Perez said apartments and duplexes will be the last to receive the new meters.

Perez also said the authority will be reaching out to the older segments of the population via presentations at organizations such as Servicio Para I Man'Amko (SPIMA).

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