Smart Meter Opt Out
Today, more than half of all U.S. households now have smart meters – and Avista’s Washington customers are the latest to receive this technology.
Still, we respect your individual right to choose.
If you’re a residential customer, you may choose to opt out of having a smart meter installed at your home. This decision won’t allow you to take advantage of the numerous benefits which rely on two-way communication that come with smart meter technology.
Josh Diluciano: Did you know more than half of the 150 million electric meters in the U.S. are considered to be a smart meter and that number is growing. Smart meters are becoming the new utility standard. In fact, analog meters are no longer being made. What is it that makes them so smart? Well, the biggest difference is they use digital technology to record your usage information and two way communication to send that data back to the utility, which means for you, no more meter readers on your property and timely access to your usage information. But it's what they enable that's really exciting.
Smart meters help you better monitor and manage your energy usage and they help us improve safety, reliability, and efficiency for all of our customers. But even though digital and communicating meters have been around for over 20 years, some folks may have some concerns. They could be worried about safety, security or privacy. I get it.
As an electrical engineer who manage Avista's meter shop. When we installed smart meters in Pullman a decade ago, I've heard from those concerned customers and we've been listening. I'm confident with the technology and I'm now leading our efforts to provide these meters to more of our customers and hopefully the information I share will put your mind at ease.
First and most important smart meters are safe. They communicate using low power radio frequency waves, what we call RF at limits well below the level set by the Federal Communications Commission. In fact, the FCC mandates that before any RF device can be used in the United States it must first comply with federal safety standards and be labeled accordingly. These regulations apply to any electronic device capable of emitting RF, TV, radio, wifi, Bluetooth. They're more common than you might think.
Let's take a look around you. Average household appliances like your TV emits 12 times the RF of your smart meter. Microwave, that's 2300 times the RF of your smart meter. Your cell phone, 58,000 times the RF, then a smart meter. Yet the smart meters only transmitting data for less than three minutes a day. While the average American is spending three hours a day on their cell phone. After 30 years of study, there's simply no evidence that the small amount of RF coming from a smart meter poses any risk to human health.
Another concern some people may have is around the reports of fires possibly caused by smart meters. Avista is installing Itron meters, which are proven safe and reliable. Itron, which is headquartered in Liberty Lake Washington subjects its meters to rigorous quality assurance testing to ensure their safety. In fact, more than 50 million Itron meters have been installed in North America, none of which have caused a fire.
Second, smart meters are accurate. They must comply with strict established by the American National Standards Institute and state regulators requires to randomly test these meters before we can install them on your home or your business. Even after installation, we continue to monitor our metering systems by conducting periodic sample testing to ensure continuing accuracy. Even the technology systems that support smart meters have exacting standards and extensive data validation processes to protect the accuracy of your bill.
And finally, smart meters are secure. These metering systems comply with the latest cybersecurity protocols established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. These rigorous standards are regularly updated to ensure they comply with the latest industry and government security protocols. Not only that, but we at Avista have conducted extensive security planning and testing of the entire smart meter system. All meters communications and information management systems are subject to the same security standards that have kept the entire energy grid safe for years.
Because your privacy is so important to Avista, we maintain existing confidentiality and privacy policies to safeguard your information. Smart meters only collect your energy usage information and all of that data is encrypted. There's literally no personal information like names or addresses that we would or even could collect, store or transmit.
So if you're thinking about opting out from receiving a new smart meter from Avista, I really hope you'll reconsider. The way technology is affecting nearly every aspect of our lives includes the ways we generate, deliver and consume energy. Smart meter technology is just the latest investment in ensuring system reliability and resiliency. Smart meters are safe, accurate, and secure and foundational for the future, our future.
Smart meter features and benefits
|Feature or benefit
|24/7 Access to Usage Information||Yes||No|
|Bill-to-date trend chart||Yes||No|
|Projected next bill||Yes||No|
|Remote service capabilities||Yes||No|
|Automatic outage detection||Yes||No|
|Ongoing monthly fee||Included||$10|
|One-time fee if you opt out 31-days after smart meter was installed||Included||$75|
How to opt out
If you choose to opt out, the following fees would apply to you, as approved by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (Commission):
All customers that do not want to receive a smart meter will be subject to the $10 monthly fee that was approved by the Commission in April 2020 and that will be effective in September 2020. The $10 monthly charge helps cover the costs of manually reading the meter and ensure all opt out customers are charged the same fees at the same time.
For your convenience, there are multiple ways to opt out of receiving a smart meter:
- If you meet the qualifications, please complete and sign the application form and submit it to Avista.
- Scan or take a photo of it and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mail it to Avista at:
Attn: Opt Out
1411 E. Mission Ave.
Spokane, WA 99202
- FAX it to Avista at 509-777-9650
- We must receive your signed form in order to formally complete the opt-out process. If we don’t receive your completed and signed form, it may result in you receiving a standard smart meter.
- You may also contact our Call Center at 1-800-227-9187 and one of our representatives can assist you.
Opt out frequently asked questions
As a residential customer, you may choose to opt out by calling us at 1-800-227-9187 for details. You can also download, complete and sign the online Opt Out application form and return it to Avista.
Residential customers who live in a single-family home or a multi-plex with four units or less. The request must be made by the Avista customer of record (family members, neighbors or landlords cannot act on behalf of another customer).
- On March 3, Avista filed an updated opt out tariff proposal with the Commission to better align the program with the actual costs to serve opt out customers, as well as the opportunity to deliver smart meter benefits to all of our Washington customers. The proposed update is the result of ongoing discussions through the regulatory process.
- If approved by the Commission, all opt out customers would begin seeing a $10 monthly charge effective April 13, 2020. The fee would apply to customers after they have completed the full opt out process.
- Opt out customers’ meters will continue to be manually read. These requested fee changes help cover these and other costs and ensure all opt out customers are charged the same fees at the same time.
- Customers who have qualified for energy assistance in the 12 months prior to their opt out application being received will not be charged the monthly fee, but will be charged the one-time fee of $75 if they choose to opt out 30-days after they have received their smart meter. This is a continuation of the current policy.
Like many other utilities across the country, Avista’s standard for metering is now transitioning to smart meters. The WUTC has determined that those customers who choose the non-standard service should pay for some of the costs for non-standard service. The ongoing monthly fee covers some of the costs to manually read your meter and the associated operational and billing activities.
We will manually read your meter once per quarter. We will estimate the other months in between based on your previous usage during the same time period last year.
Opt out customers can choose to keep their existing meter. However, while many customers who choose to opt out can keep their existing meters, we’ve identified certain meter types that will need to be replaced with a new non-communicating meter. This meter will have the communication capabilities turned “off” and will be clearly marked as an opt-out meter. Avista will contact customers if they are excluded from keeping their existing meter.