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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

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Cases: 207333

Reported Deaths: 2759
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah40422614
Washington26826249
Marion23473324
Clackamas18967235
Lane13934165
Jackson11566146
Deschutes1004182
Umatilla861687
Linn563681
Yamhill478979
Klamath477878
Polk401356
Douglas390683
Josephine362372
Malheur362163
Benton327322
Jefferson237539
Coos217537
Columbia192629
Union150224
Wasco145530
Lincoln143721
Crook129423
Hood River121833
Morrow115716
Clatsop10609
Baker103015
Curry72511
Tillamook6604
Grant5527
Lake4688
Harney4359
Wallowa1945
Gilliam811
Sherman701
Wheeler351
Unassigned00

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Cases: 3811723

Reported Deaths: 63424
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Los Angeles124816124461
Riverside3017994627
San Bernardino2993724873
San Diego2819363777
Orange2731285114
Santa Clara1201942193
Kern1108471405
Sacramento1079131737
Fresno1029961724
Alameda898191280
Ventura817271032
San Joaquin748081440
Contra Costa70818813
Stanislaus635581070
Tulare49808850
Monterey43842432
San Mateo42725581
San Francisco37287556
Santa Barbara34624455
Solano33797267
Merced32317481
Sonoma30974317
Imperial28880741
Placer23633300
Kings23209247
San Luis Obispo21448261
Madera16652245
Santa Cruz16246209
Marin14207230
Yolo14157212
Butte12662198
Shasta12616235
El Dorado10415117
Napa1002980
Sutter9672113
Yuba651951
San Benito611163
Lassen579925
Tehama573963
Nevada493275
Humboldt451449
Mendocino435150
Tuolumne421971
Amador374347
Lake356445
Glenn243527
Siskiyou239837
Colusa228818
Calaveras220956
Del Norte14658
Inyo143438
Mono12984
Plumas7376
Modoc5635
Mariposa4657
Trinity4246
Sierra1170
Alpine890
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