The California Public Utilities Commission approved a plan, which will allow people an analog alternative. But, in order to participate, most customers who don't want a SmartMeter installed or want to get rid of the one they have will have to pay an initial fee of 75-dollars, as well as ten-dollars every month.
Juanita Hodge has had a SmartMeter outside her Fresno home since last summer. She claims, her bills are now higher because of it. And while she wants to remove it and go back to analog, Hodge says she can't afford the 75-dollar fee.
Juanita Hodge said, "I'm on a budget. I don't have 75-dollars. they did it. they should come back to change it." Hodge is one of nine-million PG&E customers statewide who have the wireless device. The power company says SmartMeters help people save on their bills, by offering them more control over their energy usage. Some customers we spoke to say, while they can now choose analog, they have no plans to switch.
Ted Karas said, "My gas and electric bill hasn't been crazy like I guess some people's."
Karen Cano said, "My usage is fine and I like to be able to calculate and plan ahead of time."
But, critics, like Hodge have questioned the SmartMeter's accuracy, and fear they may emit harmful levels of radiation.
Denny Boyles said, "You know, there's been myriads of scientific studies that show that's not the case, but for these customers we want to respect their beliefs, we want to respect their choices."
PG&E officials tell Action News, they're the ones who asked the California Public Utilities Commission to consider the analog alternative.
PG&E expects 150-thousand customers will opt out. As for the fees associated with the switch, officials say they're necessary for maintaining the analog meters and for paying workers to read them each month.
PG&E SmartMeter Opt-Out Program