by Paul Smart, hudsonvalleyone.com, 14 November 2017
|Raji Nevin and Steve Romine|
As he would then note in a letter that ran in last week’s Woodstock Times, “Could it be this press release came about because I had just served them with court papers with legal action a couple of days before?”
The PSC decision, according to its October 19 release, directed Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation to withdraw monthly fees for residential customers who choose to opt-out of using meter-reading devices that can be read remotely. “This move reverses an earlier decision requiring residential customers pay a fee to cover the costs associated with the manual reading a customer’s electric meter,” it read. “For residential customers that currently have an advanced, automated electric meter installed at their property, the Commission determined that it is appropriate for the customer to make a one-time payment to cover the cost of switching from the advanced meter to a non-communicating, conventional meter, upon the customer’s request.” But the PSC also declined to require Central Hudson to make such old-style meters available “because such technology is obsolete and currently not in production by any major meter manufacturer, and therefore does not offer a viable solution to address the concerns of some Central Hudson customers” while simultaneously noting that it “will require the availability of a non-communicating, solid-state meter option.”
“The monthly fees associated with the meter opt-out program were designed to cover the cost of manually reading the digital non-communicating meters, and was initially approved by regulators. The Public Service Commission offered additional analysis, and issued a decision to waive the monthly fee, effective Dec. 1, 2017,” noted John Maserjian, Central Hudson’s Director of Media Affairs, in an email. “Central Hudson serves approximately 300,000 electric customers, and digital meters are currently in use in approximately 41 percent of accounts. The remaining analog meters are gradually being replaced: Central Hudson is required to test approximately 3.5 percent of its residential meters per year, and in doing so replaces older analog meters with digital ERT meters. ERT meters are also installed in new construction or to replace meters which may be damaged. To date, 81 customer accounts have enrolled in the opt out program. The opt-out meter is a digital, non-communicating model that must be read manually. They do not emit radio signals, and studies show these models emit lower levels of EMF than do analog meters, which are no longer produced. (All electrically operated devices, including household appliances, emit EMF.)”
Romine and his partner Raji Nevin galvanized Woodstock’s protest movement against “smart meters” nearly five years ago when the couple came to the conclusion that Nevin suffered a “mini-stroke” as a result of her proximity to a new GE-built Encoder Receiver Transmitter/meter supplied by Central Hudson. After requesting that the company replace their new device with the older meter they’d replaced, and getting no reply, Romine bought an analog meter online and documented his switch out of the new ‘smart meter’ for CH. After which the company sent someone to completely un-hook the couple’s rented home from the Central Hudson system, and hence the entire electrical grid.