PG&E to Charge Up to $20/Month to Turn Off Wireless Meters

PG&E Corp. (PCG) customers will have to pay as much as $20 a month if they want to have the wireless radio transmitters in their digital electricity meters turned off.

PG&E, the owner of California’s largest utility, disclosed the charge in a regulatory filing, saying it’s needed to cover the cost of stopping the signals and reading the meters manually as well as upgrading the utility’s wireless meter network to compensate for lost signals.

The company, which was ordered March 10 to create a way for customers to “opt-out” of its smart-meter program, estimated about 145,800 customers may chose to have the meters disabled at a potential cost of $84.4 million.

Customers wishing to terminate the meter’s transmission abilities will pay a one-time fee ranging from $135 to $270, as well as an ongoing monthly charge that will either be a flat rate or based on energy use, the San Francisco-based company said in the filing. The charges will be reduced for low-income customers.

The opt-out directive from the California Public Utilities Commission was designed to provide relief for customers concerned about the potential health effects of the wireless radio frequency emissions from the devices, which allow for remote readings of electricity and gas use.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Chediak in San Francisco at mchediak@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net.

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