Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Musings: Opt for Fair

Adam Asquith has filed a motion for a TRO to stop KIUC from collecting the $10.27 monthly smart meter opt-out fee until a vote on the question is held next spring.

At least, that's part of what he's asking for. What he really wants is the elimination of any fee at all, regardless of how a majority of the members vote. In his “prayer for relief,” Adam requests a court order suspending the fees until:

KIUC establishes policies that do not extort fees from the plaintiff for preventing the invasion of the privacy of his home by the Defendant [KIUC]

Or in less dramatic rhetoric: no opt-out fee period. At least, none for Adam. And what the utility gives Adam, it has to give everyone else.

People should have the right to “opt-out” from having a smart meter installed, and about 10 percent of the co-op members have exercised it. But it's unfair to expect the other members to pay the costs of reading the analog meters — costs that KIUC justified to the satisfaction of the Public Utilities Commission. 

I've primarily heard two arguments from those who think everyone should pay for what the state Consumer Advocate has termed “cost-causers.”

The first: People shouldn't have to pay for their health and privacy. Perhaps not, but they do it all the time. They pay for supplements, gym memberships, organic food, better quality bike helmets, encryption software, unlisted numbers, phone scramblers, etc., etc., all to ensure health and privacy. Why should having an analog meter be any different? And in any case, those making this argument aren't really saying “people shouldn't pay.” They're saying “all of you should pay for us.”

The second: It's punitive, penalizing those who opted-out. The PUC — headed by Mina Morita — nixed that argument in its decision and order approving the fees:

Such a cost recovery approach from the cost-causing customer is reasonable. Thus, the perception that the assessment of the one-time and monthly recurring charges constitutes a penalty for customers that have opted-out of using standard meters is without merit.

In short, KIUC has sufficiently demonstrated that it incurs costs in installing and utilizing non-standard meters, and such costs should be passed on to the cost-causing customer and not to customers that have chosen to utilize standard meters.

Adam, and the other members who circulated a petition that will bring the fee to a vote of the members in January, think the initial decision to impose a fee should have been made by the whole membership. 

But it's not like the members never had any say. The fee was approved through a public process that included a KIUC meeting, with opportunity for member testimony, and a PUC review with public testimony. The fee was also approved by the Consumer Advocate, who stated:

1. "[O]ne of the significant issues that is being addressed is cost-causation, in which utility costs incurred to benefit a specific customer group of customers, or customer class, are assigned as much as possible to the customer, group of customers, or customer class that causes those costs to be incurred to prevent other customers or customer classes from paying for or subsidizing the 'cost-causer.' This is sometimes generally referred to as 'the costs following the cost-causer.' "

That seems a reasonable rationale, reached through an open process, and it's what's been adopted elsewhere.

But no, it's not enough, the process will go on, dragged out by those who aren't necessarily concerned primarily with their fellow coopers — despite lofty language about democracy and transparency. 

Let's face it: the people who were not happy with the original decision to install smart meters are of course not happy with the decision to charge opt-out fees. Just as they will not be happy with the election results, or anything that arises having to do with smart meters. Because what they really want is to get rid of the smart meters altogether.

Which is their opinion, and they're entitled to it, but at what point do you decide — as a member-owned cooperative — that ship has sailed? Or do the 10 percent who don't want smart meters get to keep using new ploys to hold the other 90 percent hostage at the dock?


Henry Curtis said...

The other issue is this. If it costs KIUC $$$ to service non-smart meter customers, then someone has to pay it.

This can be paid for in four ways:(1) those without smart meters; (2) those who have smart meters; (3) everyone; or (4) reduced profits.

In the last three cases smart meter customers are being asked to pay extra money to subsidize those who do not have smart meters

Anonymous said...

How about reduced profits for only a handful of people starting with Bissel who profits off Kauai residents for over $350,000+ each year.

Anonymous said...

In an attempt to accommodate an unscientific fringe group of users, the KIUC has burdened all users.
Hopefully, the actions by the bullying few will teach ALL utility providers. There will be No Accommodations, take the meter or do not get a meter. Juice or no juice, that is the question.

Anonymous said...

If the proposed ballot item fails, and it probably will, the 250 members who signed the petition and forced the election should have to pay back the $63,000 for the election. What a waste of money. It's way to easy to force KIUC special elections and there needs to be a disincentive when the proposed change benefits only a few.

Anonymous said...

Regardless if those who have chosen not to have a "smart-meter" will pay more or not, KIUC will find additional ways to add on charges to ALL !. It is in the nature of this Co-Op . Monopolies cannot deal with diversity, they mandate submission.

Andy Parx said...

It's not just the cost of "meter readers." There is a host of other savings in having smart meters from future non-peak hour discounts to isolating outages quickly without waiting for phone calls to integrating home generation efficiently, And many others.
And, I think you give the anti-SM crowd too much credit by saying they are entitled to analog meters in the first place... unless they have a valid reason other than superstition and an inability to understand how electricity and radio waves work- an understanding that might be enhanced with this hand dandy chart http://chem465cellphones.webs.com/FCC%20spectra.JPG

Anonymous said...

so if there are 27k less meters to read, seems like the elec. bills should start coming down any time now...yay!!!....aloha Dean

Anonymous said...

What is really going on is that Joan Conrow, who normally does such excellent journalistic blogging work, is mysteriously carrying the water for the $382,456 annually compensated CEO of KIUC.

Unless you are getting something out of the workout, I suggest you let millionaire CEO David Bissell earn his own fat compensation and you pick another topic to flog.

Anonymous said...

We should make this more interesting and have the county acquire KIUC and turn it into a POU!

Anonymous said...

Of the 900 or so Electrical Coop's in the U.S. all of those that have offered an opt-out on smart meters have an associate PUC and Advocate approved one time and monthly charge. Kauai's $10 monthly fee is probably the lowest of all.

Wording on the ballot should include, "The 250 signatures required for a petition to be changed to 2,500 signatures required for a petition".

What a waste of our Coop's time and money. It' a joke!!!!

Anonymous said...

Re 12:12 pm,,,,,

If disbanding the Meter Reading Group was the way KIUC was to fund the meter installations it would probably be a wash.

If you keep the group intact,

Vehicle = Vehicle cost, fuel n maintenance, insurance.
Employee = Wages, medical, retirement benefits.
Billing = Manual input redundant system,
Meter = Stocking n maint of obsolescent equipment .

You do the math?

Anonymous said...

Of the 900 or so Electrical Coop's in the U.S. all of those that have offered an opt-out on smart meters have an associate PUC and Advocate approved one time and monthly charge. Kauai's $10 monthly fee is probably the lowest of all.

Wording on the ballot should include, "The 250 signatures required for a petition to be changed to 2,500 signatures required for a petition".

What a waste of our Coop's time and money. It' a joke!!!!

Luke Evslin said...

"The first: People shouldn't have to pay for their health and privacy"

The flip side of that argument is "the rest of the island shouldn't have to subsidize the inefficiencies caused by the 10% that opt out." It's impossible to separate the tangible benefits of a smart grid from the discussion. Those who opt out are doing a grave disservice to our community in terms of energy security and the dream of self sufficiency.

Crude Oil (which makes up the bulk of the cost of our diesel fuel for the port allen power plant) prices have gone up 400% in the last decade. That trend has slowed down, but they're not going back down. It's time for us, as a community, to move beyond the status-quo. We can't continue to burn diesel fuel as our primary fuel source. And we can't transition to an island run primarily off of renewable energy if we don't have a smart grid in place.

It's not about saving KIUC some money on meter readers. And it's definitely not about bringing our utility bill down (because the price of energy is going nowhere but up). It's about being able to accurately match the supply of electricity with the demand. It's about flattening out the daily demand curve and promoting the use of electricity when it's readily available (when the sun is shining) and discouraging it when it's not (at night). It's about shedding the stranglehold of oil on our isolated island community and minimizing our contribution to climate change.

If someone doesn't want one, then opt out. We all respect your decision to do so. But please don't ask the rest of the community to pay for your analog meter. Especially when that meter is doing an active disservice to the goal of a sustainable Kaua'i.

Anonymous said...

Awesome work Adam is doing!

Anonymous said...

Well then why don't you join "Awesome Adam" next time he goes fishing with dynamite.

Anonymous said...

Re Luke Evslin's 7:58 PM

Luke, I would like to read your comments in The Garden Island newspaper letters to the editor.

Best Regards,
Steve Rapozo

Karen Chun said...

Luke is absolutely correct. I'm not sure who started the fear of smart meters but I AM sure that the coal-oil-gas corporations are chuckling and clapping their hands over it.

Here on Maui they're denying people rooftop PV because they can't manage their grid properly.

Smart meters give the utility the information required to incorporate MORE PV and other renewable energy into the system.

By opting out, people are not just making meter-reading more expensive, they are creating a situation where more oil has to be used.

I beg you folks - learn science because then you will see that this smart meter fear-mongering is not valid.

Anonymous said...

Does the use of smart meters necessitate the use of smart appliances and other electricals?

Joan Conrow said...


Anonymous said...

An issue I have not seen addressed is the fact that KIUC allowed anyone with an account, including renters, to opt out if they chose. It did not require the consent of the owner. Those renters who opted out have now burdened future renters of that property with monthly fees for manual meter reading. Crazy and unfair! KIUC should have required owners to approve any opt out requests.

Anonymous said...

If the issue was addressing costs rather than punishing those who value their health, privacy or who are concerned about long term costs of the smart grid and grid security, KIUC could slash the cost of meter reading by implementing a post card system, a phone in system or an on online reporting system.

Rather than criticizing those who bothered to look past industry propaganda and question the wisdom of this grid, please do some research. Watching the documentary: "Take Back Your Power" would be a good start.

John Wehrheim said...

Thanks Luke,

For your intelligent explanation of the benefits of smart meters and why we need a smart grid for peak shaving, load management and a sustainable energy future for Kauai.

Anonymous said...

"Take Back Your Power" is propaganda

Anonymous said...

It is not true that we need a smart grid to utilize renewable energy.
And if those that choose to retain a safe, time-tested analog meter, rather than submit themselves and their children to radiation 24/7 (yes, I know KIUC's version is different, pls do the research for yourself) should be charged for that choice, then so should the folks who choose to live far from the electric utility and require many miles of poles and power lines and the additional maintenance for those.....
The whole point of a coop is that it shares the cost burden equally between all members.
Interesting that comment moderation has been enabled, and that 99% of the comments are supportive of Joan's views....mmmmm.....and that I know people whose comments are not shown here, like this one likely will not be shown.....

Joan Conrow said...

FYI: All the comments submitted to this post were published. Comment moderation has been on for a couple weeks now.

Anonymous said...

I respect your opinion but scientific evidence is not based on paranoia.

Anonymous said...


Do we need another petition to approve the opt-out by a ballot vote or can we add it to this ballot?

Joan Conrow said...

No, it's too late to re-visit the opt-out in a ballot. A petition has to be submitted within 20 days of the Board action.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

As more solar comes online, the generator slows down. A cloud comes over, the generator speeds up. What happens when we get to and exceed our demand during the sunny hours? The generator will have to keep spinning to be ready for backup. (This isn't very efficient, but the smart grid won't change this.) What the smart grid will allow is for KIUC to remotely shut off PV systems THEY choose, to keep their own centralized PV systems operating at peak (and the cheapest power for KIUC).

More info here: http://stopsmartmeters.org/why-stop-smart-meters/smart-meters-green-or-greenwash/

If anyone has alternate views, please support them with links to research done by independents with no industry money/influence behind them, thank you.

Anonymous said...

National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy
November 2012 Report on the Smart Grid

Anonymous said...

So if smart meters are going to decrease fossil fuel consumption, I have no problem with the people who refuse to help save fuel use by refusing to allow a smart meter having to pay an extra ten dollars. To me it's about reducing greenhouse gasses and pollution, and the anti-smart meter crowd is on the wrong side of this one. Silly cause.

Anonymous said...

Regarding 8:22

Generators don't speed up and KIUC I believe, doesn't do spinning reserve. They have strict generation management guidelines based on efficiency. If KIUC needs additional generation a standby unit will begin it's start up process. When cloud cover causes intermittences KIUC has Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) to mitigate outages and premature startup's. When the Koloa BESS came on line it eliminated 18 outages in the first month. KIUC will also be adding another large BESS system with the Anahola solar project. In my opinion, Solar, BESS, and Hydro managed by a Smart Grid (smart meters ) are the most favorable combination for Kauai.

Note: KIUC has one 27.5mW generation unit in Kapaia that runs almost constantly. They have an additional twelve units at Port Allen ranging from 2mW to 23.7mW.

Steve Rapozo

Anonymous said...

Karen Chun, Here's the scientific facts about Smart Meter negative affects on red blood cells and the central nervous system:




Anonymous said...

Anyone putting the flyers to stop the fees from KIUC on telephone poles along Kuhio Hwy in Kapaa might just want to know it is against the law.

Reason if a worker needs to climb the pole with spikes it causes a hazard.

Might think twice on how the actions of some reflects on the cause

Anonymous said...

I found above link rational. It sounds true to me…Astounding that 90% of the members bought in to this "canard—a story or hoax based on specious claims about energy benefits…” That Mina Morita and the PUC supported this rationale is troubling. I suppose, people will calculate that if they are not charged the $10.27 fee, they are making money with their smart meter. What was the hidden fee we all payed and are continuing to pay?

Anonymous said...

Re 9:11 am post

Fact: The smart grid / smart meter program cost was $10.5 mil. Of that total 50% was paid for by a Federal Stimulus Grant. Leaving KIUC with a $5.5 mil balance. The elimination of 7 full time meter readers and support would save KIUC enough to have the balance paid off in a few years.
The additional fees as you state will be because of the remaining three meter readers that will work exclusively for those members requiring an opt-out.
Regarding the PUC, All Coop's on the mainland offering an opt-out charge a set up fee and monthly charge as our PUC has approved. The only difference is and you can thank our PUC for that is the monthly $10.20 is probably the cheapest of all.
Also noted is whatever financial overages that hit the balance sheet at the end of the year as a profit are returned to our members as patronage capital. This information has been disseminated dozens of times by KIUC.

Note: Roof tops solar project outputs were calculated manually prior to smart meters. Now it's real time data. In some instances line repair technicians had to physically drive up a street to see if any roof top solar was existing.

Steve Rapozo

Anonymous said...

a lot of you are sheep and Bissell is your master.

1) smart meters hasn't prove to saved anyone any money on their monthly bill.

2) there is a cap on PV solar systems that can be installed on homes and businesses. then after that no one else can install pv because KIUC will be losing money.

3) red and reread TGI letters to the editor december 1, 2013 by Arruda. he makes valid points.
4)there is a hydroelectric company trying to sell KIUC green energy for less than half of what KIUC is charging people per kilowatt hr.

4) KIUC has tried to claim dam/water rights to build hydro electricity in which they were in cahoots with pldc and the mainland company.

5) those board memebers are filthy rich they dont need to be on KIUC board. just another elitist group of power hungary people.

6) KIUC is playing the GMO tactics of dividing and conquering the community.

7)KIUC is discriminating against its own rate payers which is in violation of a coop.

8)Fire, ready, aim is KIUC's motto.

Greed is what KIUC is all about and their monopoly is sickening.

Now there is storage batteries available for your PV system so you can be totally off the grid.

Screw those evil dirty old men of KIUC.

Anonymous said...

We'll you sound a bit irritated, your number 5 comment says it all though " board members are filthy rich so they shouldn't be on the KIUC board" quote/ unquote! All I see is jealousy, the rest is pure gibberish drivel.

Neal Chantara said...

Aloha Steve,

Re: 12/7/13 7:12pm.
I appreciate your technical correction on generator spin. In my
limited 3 minute testimony before the KIUC board that was picked up
by 8:22, I kept it simple so people could understand the fact that
our generation is completely responsive to load.

True the spin stays the same as we use more fuel when the load
increases to prevent a slowing of the generator spin.

The frequency of the power output of most generators is dependent on
rotational speed of the engine (or other source of rotary motion).
When the electrical load increases, this increases the load on the
engine, which will slow it down if the fuel supply remains constant.

Thus, strictly speaking, when a light is turned on the monitoring
system at KIUC will increase fuel supply to the generator in order to
maintain a constant rotational speed.

Debates about technicalities of generator operation vs. simplifications
for laypeople and time constraints aside, the end result is the same:

Data coming from the smart meters arrives long after the load has been
responded to by the generator control systems
(according to KIUC's
literature, as much as 4 hours after), thereby rendering it useless
for managing generators.

So I should have said that when you turn on a light, more fuel is
burned. The sun comes out, less fuel is burned. If a cloud covers
the PV panels more fuel is burned. It has nothing to do with any
management by smart meters or the smart grid. We've been
integrating renewables like hydro since the beginning of

Many thanks,
Neal Chantara

Anonymous said...

December 11, 2013 at 9:13 PM

We'll you sound a bit irritated, your number 5 comment says it all though " board members are filthy rich so they shouldn't be on the KIUC board" quote/ unquote! All I see is jealousy, the rest is pure gibberish drivel.

If all of what is said has no actually meaning then prove that 1) KIUC does not have a cap on PV home installations. 2) There is no hydroelectricity that will or is available for less than half of KIUC $.44 per Khr. 3) KIUC did not attempt to secure water/dam rights through PLDC. 4) There is no alternate way for KIUC to read those analog meters. (customers could take and send pictures through smart phones) instead of paying the extra costs. 5)Prove that smart meters have saved its rate payers. Them box is never green and is rarely yellow. 6) KIUC is going to use the extra 300k + to pay for their new solar farm. 7) KIUC did not over pay for the utility company by 50 million dollars that the rate payers are footing the bill for with the highest Khr in the nation.

Now if you can answer those questions with FACTS then maybe you are worth something in this discussion.

Anonymous said...

What KIUC does in the future cap or no cap is up to KIUC and the Board we elect but the Two Waiahi Hydro's that have been in service since the turn of the century produces energy at 5 cents a Kwh. Fact!