Texas to explore smart meter opt-out

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The Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) unanimously voted last week to draft rules allowing millions of state businesses and residences to opt out of smart meters.

Nearly seven million smart meters have been installed in Texas, representing 90 percent of customers, according to PUC spokesperson Terry Hadley.  As proposed, the opt out would not require swapping smart meters for electromechanical meters, but would simply disable smart meter radios.

The opt out is not guaranteed, as the rules will be subjected to a public comment period before facing a final PUC vote. Customers who opt out would likely face supplemental fees.

Smart meters have faced resistance across the U.S., and the issue has been brewing in Texas for some time. In a letter to Texas Commissioners earlier this year, State Senator Dennis Bonnen, who first introduced smart meter legislation in the state, said mandatory installation was not his intent.

"I am greatly concerned that the installation of smart meters has gone beyond the purview of the law by forcing them on consumers," he wrote.

If approved, Texas would join Nevada, California, Vermont, Oregon, Arizona and Wisconsin in states where utilites offer an opt-out option for a small but steadfast group of customers concerned over smart meter privacy and health.

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