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Josephine County Commissioners Adopt Smart Meter Ordinance

The Josephine County Utility Regulation Ordinance is meant to stop public utility companies like Pacific Power from charging a monthly fee to those who want to opt out of smart meters.

Posted: Oct. 31, 2018 6:34 PM
Updated: Oct. 31, 2018 6:35 PM

GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- The Josephine County Board of Commissioners adopted ordinance 2018-006 Wednesday. You can click here  to read the ordinance in full. 

The Josephine County Utility Regulation Ordinance is meant to stop public utility companies like Pacific Power from charging a monthly fee to those who want to opt out of smart meters. 

Chairman of the Board Dan DeYoung said there was a lot of concern about whether or not people had options when Pacific Power transitioned to smart meters.

"We felt as a board that there were no other choices given," DeYoung said. 

The ordinance would require utility companies to provide alternative methods of reporting for customers who don't want the smart meters.

It would require the utility company to remove a smart meter that a customer already has installed and replace it with a non-radio frequency meter within 30 days after receiving the demand.

Scott Bolton, Senior Vice President of Pacific Power, said the company cannot comply with the ordinance because that would put it out of compliance with the Public Utility Commission. 

"I think by developing an ordinance, which is a local law that may or may not be legal with how the state regulates utilities, that will create more confusion and so it will be difficult to see exactly where we go from here," Bolton said. 

The legislation is one-of-a-kind. Bolton said Josephine County is the only one adopting an ordinance like this one.

"This is unique, I think most counties recognize that they don't regulate the rates of utilities," Bolton said. 

DeYoung said the Commission does not want to regulate the company's rates.

"That's one of the things that the power company was really strict about, and we had conversations back and forth. Their opposition to what we are doing is that we don't have the authority to set the rates, that's set by the Oregon Public Utility Commission, we get that," DeYoung said. 

Bolton said Pacific Power is already working on making more options available for customers who don't want the smart meters.

"Part of what determines what works and what the costs will be is simply getting the technology deployed and knowing how many opt-outs we're dealing with across the state," Bolton said. 

The ordinance goes into effect in three months.

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