Ballots were mailed Friday to about 30,000 residential and business members of Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative in the special election on fees charged to customers who don’t want smart meters.
The ballot asks members to approve or overturn the decision by the KIUC board to charge $10.27 a month to the 3,000 customers who have chosen not to use a wireless smart meter.
KIUC’s elected board of directors is asking members to vote “yes” to keep the fees in place only for those who don’t want to use smart meters.
The monthly charge, as well as a one-time charge to customers who ask to substitute older-style meters for smart meters, took effect in November after it was approved by the Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission.
The charges cover the costs of sending technicians to read and service older-style meters.
Ninety percent of KIUC customers have smart meters. Ten percent have chosen not to have them. The fees apply only to those who don’t want smart meters.
“Recovering these costs is a responsible, reasonable action by KIUC’s elected board,” said Allan Smith, chairman of the board of directors. “It’s a simple matter of fairness that the people who don’t want a smart meter and require special treatment should pay for it.”
In a commentary published on Tuesday in The Garden Island, an official of the Environmental Defense Fund, an international organization with expertise in reducing the effects of global warming, said KIUC’s opt-out fees are “an effective compromise that gives all KIUC customers choice and is consistent with the principle of each customer paying for the costs associated with their service.”
Members can vote by mail, online or by phone. Instructions are included with the ballots, which will arrive in specially marked envelopes.
Ballots must be received by noon on Jan. 25 and results of the election will be announced later that day.
A Frequently Asked Questions on the opt-out fees is online at www.kiuc.coop.