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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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Reported Deaths: 3682
CountyCasesDeaths
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Washington35615280
Marion33366399
Clackamas27185275
Lane24597256
Jackson21336267
Deschutes17215104
Umatilla13006129
Douglas10969202
Linn1083488
Josephine8772173
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Polk642172
Malheur494667
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Coos436272
Columbia333539
Jefferson325747
Lincoln283430
Union280938
Wasco248139
Crook220639
Clatsop217526
Tillamook185123
Baker180524
Morrow170721
Curry168617
Hood River165835
Harney88318
Grant8678
Lake7418
Wallowa54012
Gilliam1404
Sherman1333
Wheeler651
Unassigned00

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Reported Deaths: 68599
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Los Angeles145417226013
Riverside3600584843
San Diego3543914051
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Orange3162215384
Sacramento1516592138
Santa Clara1411661844
Fresno1373871927
Kern1369321532
Alameda1168001333
San Joaquin983511628
Ventura982921134
Contra Costa96331924
Stanislaus814771256
Tulare74142898
San Mateo52540612
San Francisco52328615
Monterey49733567
Solano44452312
Santa Barbara43353505
Merced39734546
Sonoma39609384
Placer37033367
Imperial34462755
Kings30419293
San Luis Obispo28582318
Madera22042263
Butte21781236
Shasta21374290
Santa Cruz20255214
Yolo19359239
Marin17200242
El Dorado16194130
Sutter13228154
Napa1235295
Yuba937161
Nevada856885
Tehama843786
Humboldt843093
San Benito711470
Mendocino698476
Lassen653027
Tuolumne623393
Lake613592
Amador498859
Glenn407530
Siskiyou406241
Calaveras351170
Del Norte342035
Colusa293918
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Mono15145
Plumas12676
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Trinity74310
Modoc6278
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