by Cynthia Browning
I think that we should all opt out of the wireless Smart Meters to protest the fact that the $21 million CVPS bailout was not returned to ratepayers. GMP ignored the 12,000 Vermonters that signed petitions for AARP’s request for the direct refund of the bailout to ratepayers, and the many other Vermonters who also supported this payback. Okay, then we will not cooperate with GMP’s grandiose schemes. If the opt out percentage gets high enough it undermines the viability of the Smart Meter project, and that will get their attention.
I know that there may be benefits from the Smart Meter technology, but most of those benefits will go to large commercial users, not regular residential customers. And they should have chosen the wired version, to avoid the possible problems with privacy, security, and health.
In addition, GMP will be counting their investment in the meters as part of their infrastructure base, so they will get their rate of return on that larger value, and this increase in our rate payments could even offset the cost savings that they assert will materialize. So that our rates never go down at all. GMP is likely counting on being able to manipulate the complex rate setting process to be sure that they always do better than we do.
As I read the PSB decision approving the GMP/CVPS merger, one of the things that they mentioned was that any change in the proposal, for instance related to the return of the $21 million, might have scuttled the merger and we would have lost the efficiency gains of combining the companies. I see this as the first of many future instances of blackmail by GMP to get what they want from regulators.
And as soon as this idea of opting out of the Smart Meters to protest the refusal to pay ratepayers back was reported on the VPR, the first thing the spokesperson does is threaten us with higher costs if we do not go with Smart Meters. But these are costs that we are already paying for in our service charge.
If they cannot pay us back when they paid off the CVPS shareholders and executives, there is no reason why we should support their unproven scheme with uncertain benefits for us.
The only certainty here is that GMP will use the regulatory process to try to earn higher rate payments on their investments --- whether in smart meters or in efficiency with our bailout money.
Just say no to Smart Meters and say no to GMP. This is one power that you have.
And, ssshhhh, listen carefully ... Do you hear that? It is the sound of all of the GMP lobbyists and the administration spokespeople scurrying to beat down this latest threat to their control.
So, if you want to protest the fact that the $21 million was not returned, or if you are concerned about GMP's Lowell Wind towers, or if you have concerns about the wireless Smart Meter technology — JUST SAY NO to Smart Meters. There is no fee for opting out.
Opt out of smart meters to say no to a company that puts power over people, and to say no to the regulators that let them get away with it. If enough people opt out they might well have to re-think their plan, switching to wired Smart Meters instead. Or they might offer to guarantee us certain reductions in the rates. How about, say, $21 million worth of reductions?
Works for me.
Cynthia Browing is Vermont State Representative from Arlington.