Smart Meters and your money

SOURCE: Jonathan Jay (
SUBHEAD: If this payment request is allowed, it will mark the end of cooperation between members and KIUC.

By Douglas Whitmore on 8 January 2014 in the Garden Island -

Image above: Mashup by Juan Wilson of Enron/KIUC logo, President David Bissell and a scene from stage play of "Enron" by Lucy Prebble. From (

Well folks, they’re at it again. KIUC is charging some co-op members additional money for services whose costs have always been shared equally by the membership — in this case meter reading. What is behind the KIUC extra charges?

The $11 million smart meter project began following a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy which paid for one-half of the costs. In privacy litigation, the KIUC lawyer, presumably under oath, told a federal judge that this was a “test installation” (see U.S. District Court, Civil No. 12-00134HG-rlp).

What? We’re participating in a test without even knowing it? Is this similar to the pesticide companies secretly testing their poisonous formulas on Westside fields? KIUC has employed the same type of sneaky silence, failing to disclose that this demonstration project is collecting data including (according to the contract) control of your utilities and the length of time you use the Internet. The overall intent of this grant is to determine the feasibility of smart meters, not to ensure implementation and long-term use.

Were you told that the smart meter that was installed on your home or business was part of a test? Is this what you signed up for? Oh, you didn’t sign up?  Well, so it goes — welcome to  “KIUC World,” where your informed consent doesn’t matter and the KIUC master plan takes precedent.

About 3,000 co-op members or approximately 10 percent of the cooperative have deferred installation of smart meters and retained their old meters due to health or privacy concerns. This group contributed equally to purchase of smart meters but don’t have them on their house or business, and have not received credits for their contribution. Moreover, the opt-out group continues to pay to maintain the smart meter program, supporting the computers, technicians, consultants, data analyzers and upkeep of the network. This 10 percent group derives no benefit from these charges during this test period or in the future but continues to participate because they are cooperative members.

Now KIUC has selected out these paying co-op members to punish them because they rejected the use of smart meters. These co-op members are forced to pay a tariff of $10.27 per month in order to maintain their original meters. KIUC claims that this is the cost of having the meterman come to their houses to read the meter. This expense is many times more than the cost for meter readers a year or so ago and is exorbitant compared to the national average for reading meters of 50 cents a month.

KIUC needs money because of the competition from solar, and if this cost recovery approach can be used with smart meters, shouldn’t it work in other areas? Before long KIUC may designate other expenses that allow special assessment to other households and/or businesses. This is contrary to the very tenets of our rural electrical cooperative and directly conflicts with the spirit of aloha found on Kauai. If this payment request is allowed, it will mark the end of cooperation between members and the end of our utility cooperative as we know it today.

The request by KIUC to impose extra fees on selected members of the cooperative who opted-out of the smart meter program is not fair, violates laws of equality, disregards members’ rights to privacy and health in the home, is punitive and represents the first attempt to break up the cooperative. I believe that the KIUC members should overwhelmingly overturn the request for special fees submitted by KIUC to the PUC. Just vote no!

• Douglas Wilmore, M.D., is a Kilauea resident. He is an a Emeritus Professor of the Harvard Medical and has served on numerous committees for hospitals, universities and the federal government dealing with individual safety and privacy.


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