Statehouse Critic Calls For Smart Meter Protest
07/10/12 5:50PM By John Dillon
A Statehouse critic of a recent utility merger says consumers should protest the fact that they didn't get a refund when the companies merged.
Arlington Democrat Cynthia Browning led a failed effort in the Legislature to force the merged utility to pay $21 million back to ratepayers.
Now Browning is calling on consumers to reject the utility's roll-out of smart meters in protest.
"Green Mountain Power refused to return the $21 million in the bail out of CVPS directly to the ratepayers," Browning says. "And now they're asking us to cooperate in this big project whose benefits aren't yet really certain. And I feel this would give people a chance to say no, we're not going to cooperate. You wouldn't pay us back. We're not going to cooperate."
About 5 percent of the utility's customers have so far opted out of the wireless smart meters. Utilities are forbidden from charging consumers a fee if they opt-out.
But Green Mountain Power spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure says smart meters will help the utility run more efficiently. "It's unfortunate if she's calling for an action that will only serve to cost our customers more money," Schnure says.
Schnure says it's also more costly to read the meters by hand, and those costs will have to be passed onto customers.