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Oregon PUC to Consult with Court Over Josephine County Smart Meter Ordinance

The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) has asked a Marion County court to 'confirm its exclusive authority to set customer rates' in response to Josephine County's recent smart meter ordinance.

Posted: Nov 29, 2018 4:09 PM

SALEM, Ore. — In the face of Josephine County's recently ratified smart meter ordinance, the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) said on Friday that it has asked a Marion County court to weigh in on the dispute.

"[The PUC] asked a Marion County court to confirm its exclusive authority to set customer rates for investor-owned electric utilities and to prevent a Josephine County ordinance from limiting Pacific Power’s ability to charge PUC-approved fees related to advanced meter installation within the county," the Commission said in a statement.

The County adopted their ordinance at the end of October, stipulating that they would prohibit all opt-out fees leveled by Pacific Power on customers that refuse to receive the new smart meter and instead insist on keeping a hand-read meter.

Pacific Power argued that the County did not have the authority to set fees or to set them aside, appealing to the PUC for help. Since the PUC is typically in charge of approving rates and fees, they quickly threatened legal action against the County.

“This is not our preferred course of action,” said Megan Decker, PUC chair. “But we need to be clear with customers and other jurisdictions that Oregon’s legal structure requires Pacific Power to charge rates set by the PUC. Our exclusive authority and obligation to set nondiscriminatory rates across a utility’s service territory prevents the ability of one jurisdiction from transferring the cost of its local priorities to other communities.”

But earlier this month, Josephine County responded that they would stand by their ordinance.

“Choice and local control are highly valued in Oregon. Local governments are free to raise revenues to fund local priorities, including expanding access to manually read meters. They can ask local residents to provide financial support to customers who cannot afford the opt-out charge,” said Decker. “What local governments cannot do is require Pacific Power to charge customers different rates for electric service in their jurisdictions.”

In Southern Oregon, Pacific Power currently charges a $36 per-month opt-out fee for customers who refuse the upgrade to a smart reader. While Josephine County has argued that the opt-out fee method leaves their residents with no choice, the PUC disagrees.

“The customer’s choice to have a manually read meter has a cost,” said Decker. “The questions are what is the cost and who pays for it?”

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 4086

Reported Deaths: 151
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah110359
Marion93125
Washington71517
Clackamas30411
Deschutes1210
Linn1159
Umatilla1143
Polk9811
Yamhill697
Lane672
Jackson650
Benton555
Clatsop450
Klamath410
Malheur330
Coos310
Douglas250
Jefferson250
Josephine251
Wasco211
Columbia160
Hood River130
Morrow120
Lincoln100
Crook60
Curry60
Union60
Tillamook60
Wallowa20
Lake20
Sherman10
Harney10
Grant10
Baker10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 103813

Reported Deaths: 3993
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles498602241
Riverside7341313
San Diego7100260
Orange5744142
San Bernardino4914190
Alameda309794
Santa Clara2701140
San Francisco243740
San Mateo202282
Kern200737
Tulare183580
Fresno165832
Santa Barbara163612
Imperial144326
Contra Costa138437
Sacramento134956
Ventura106232
San Joaquin84235
Kings7043
Stanislaus68328
Sonoma5304
Solano50922
Monterey4699
Marin43614
Merced2807
San Luis Obispo2681
Yolo20723
Santa Cruz2062
Placer1969
Napa1113
Humboldt983
Madera942
San Benito852
El Dorado840
Del Norte440
Sutter422
Nevada411
Butte400
Shasta374
Mono351
Yuba281
Mendocino250
Lake230
Inyo191
Mariposa161
Calaveras150
Glenn140
Amador100
Siskiyou60
Colusa50
Lassen50
Tuolumne40
Plumas40
Tehama41
Alpine20
Trinity10
Sierra10
Unassigned00
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