Concerned Vermonters Can Now Opt-Out for Free
On Friday the Vermont Legislature provided final approval to language that prohibits Vermont utilities from charging fees to customers who choose not to have a wireless smart meter installed at their home or business.
The language was part of an amended version of S. 214, a bill that was originally proposed by Sen. Robert Hartwell of Bennington County. The amended bill is now headed to the Governor, who is expected to sign the bill into law.
The bill also now requires the State Health Department and Department of Public Service to hire an independent consultant to evaluate the health impacts of the smart meter rollout in Vermont.
“We see this as a big win for Vermonters. Now anyone concerned about these meters for any reason can opt-out without fear of what it is going to do to his or her wallet. Over the course of the last several months many Vermonters contacted their legislators and made their position known; opt-out fees were simply inappropriate,” said Jesse Mayhew, Manager for the Wake Up Opt Out Campaign.
The bill as passed, “allows customers to choose not to have a wireless smart meter installed, at no additional monthly or other charge.” Utilities have already received permission from the Public Service Board to delay implementing previously approved opt-out fees until April 2013, but this recent legislation delays the fees indefinitely.
The Department of Health and the Department of Public Service will be conducting more investigations into how the wireless smart meter rollout will impact the health of Vermonters. The bill requires the departments to hire an independent contractor who must submit a report to the legislature by January 15th, 2013. The report is to include “a representative sample of post deployment radio frequency level testing; and recommendations relating to evidence-based surveillance on the potential health effects of wireless smart meters.”
“Although it is possible the utilities will find a way around this legislation by charging higher meter reading fees in the future, it is great that folks are able to opt-out for no cost while more information is gathered around the potential health impacts of smart meters on Vermonters. This bill is a victory for the Wake Up Opt Out Campaign, all those that worked hard for its passage, and most importantly for Vermonters seeking to protect their health and their wallets,” said Mayhew.
Vermonters interested in opting-out of having a smart meter installed at their home or business can do so by calling their utility’s customer service line. Green Mountain Power can be reached at 888-835-4675 and CVPS can be reached at 800-649-2877. The bill also contains a provision that allows Vermonters that already have a smart meter to have it removed at no cost.
Complete text of the final legislation as passed can be found at www.wakeupoptout.org.
About The Wake Up Opt Out Campaign
The Wake Up Opt Out Campaign is a group of concerned Vermonters that believe the utilities and Public Service Board have not done enough to educate Vermonters about the risks associated with the impending smart meter roll-out. Wake Up Opt Out encourages Vermonters to learn more about the meters, and decide if they would like to avoid their impacts by opting out of having a meter installed at their home. More information about the campaign can be found online at www.wakeupoptout.org or by calling 802-779-0500.