Residents wishing to opt out of Burbank's smart meter program will need to wait to do so, as the City Council postponed discussion on the matter, preferring to wait to how state utility officials will weigh in.
The California Public Utilities Commission, according to a draft agenda item, is leaning toward mandating analog meters for customers who don't want the wireless device. The commission is scheduled to meet in early February.
Privately owned electric, natural gas and water companies, among others, are regulated by the CPUC.
Opposition to the smart meters has grown across the country and utilities have been forced to discuss alternatives amid mounting customer opposition.
Burbank resident Kiku Iwata is among those who have spoken out against the new meters.
During the public comment period at the meeting, she noted that the CPUC seems to be taking the analog option seriously.
“I'm hoping we did make a difference by showing up and sharing that revision [about] analog meters,” Iwata said.
Burbank Water and Power has said that accommodating those on the opt-out list would mean that it would essentially be operating two systems — one digital, one analog. The utility is prepared to discuss opting out, with six possible alternatives, but all involve an upgraded meter, BWP said in its report.
Leaving analog meters in the system is problematic because “they are at the end of their useful life and, like older analog model TVs, these meters are being phased out,” the report states.
The utility's report goes on to say, “While some opponents to the new meters have stated that digital meters, even without wireless communication, create a health impact for sensitive people, all digital circuitry, clocks, stereo equipment, answering machines and meters, emit some [radio frequency].”
The existing meters do not collect data at a level that allows system analysis, cost-based time-of-use pricing or customer understanding of consumption patterns, the report states.
In neighboring Glendale, residents also have stated a desire to opt out of the smart meter program. City officials there have said they want to hear the CPUC's decision.
Glendale Water & Power will make a presentation to the Glendale City Council next Tuesday, General Manager Glenn Steiger said.
Steiger said the utility plans to update the council on the status of the smart grid and to discuss possible options for opt out.
That will include the CPUC's February discussion, Steiger said.