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Burbank creates 'opt out' policy for smart meter system

March 16, 2012

Burbank Water and Power customers who want to opt out of having a digital meter measure their residential power usage have two months to inform the utility, according to a new policy approved by the City Council.

Despite some confusion among opponents, Joanne Fletcher, assistant general manager for customer service and marketing at the utility, said in an email that the opt-out policy will be open to all customers.

About 90 customers, most of them homeowners, have said they do not want the new meter, citing health and privacy concerns, among others.

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Customers who choose to opt-out will have to pay a $75 one-time fee and a $10 monthly fee under the program approved last week, Fletcher said. Those who want to opt out have 60 days from the March 6 council decision to enroll.

Low- to moderate-income households will pay $5 to $10 a month.

In neighboring Glendale, about 150 residents have requested to opt out and any resident who chooses to do so will pay between $35 and $56. A digital meter will be installed that does not transmit to Glendale Water and Power.

Councilman David Gordon, who was the lone dissenting vote, said the public’s trust of the utility and the public’s concerns about health impacts, whether real or perceived, should not be taken lightly.

“We often hear people come to the [City Council] and say, ‘You’re not listening to me,’” Gordon said. “Citizens own the utility and many people feel they’re not having a voice.”

Fletcher said Burbank Water and Power has been planning to update the meters for the last four years and has been in contact with customers who made inquiries.

"All who expressed concerns were addressed individually,” Fletcher said. “Do we continue to disagree? Yes."

RELATED:

Glendale settles on its own opt-out policy for smart meters

-- Maria Hsin, Times Community News

Twitter: @mariahsin

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