Chester resolution asks commission to drop smart meters opt-out fee

| 25 Jul 2019 | 02:43

By Frances Ruth Harris
The Chester town board agreed July 10 to send the New York State Public Service Commission a resolution asking that residents be allowed to keep their Orange & Rockland Utilities analog meters without paying $15-per-month “opt-out” penalty for rejecting smart meters.
Smart meters are electronic devices that emit radiofrequency (RF) waves — record how much electricity customers consume and report this information back to the utility. They render human meter readers unnecessary.
Residents Chris Maurer and Lydia Cuadros of Sugar Loaf made a presentation to the town board last October outlining potential health hazards, saying there is strong evidence that RF radiation increases cancer risk. RF waves are also emitted by cell phones and other Wi-Fi devices, but Maurer and Cuadros pointed out that, unlike these devices, smart meters can't be turned off.
The board also amended the smart meter resolution giving residents 90 days' instead of 30 days' notice announcing when smart meters are scheduled to be installed.
The resolution will be sent to New York State Assembly and Senate representatives in support of the smart meter bills that have been stalled in the Energy Committee for at least three years, Senate Bill S07214 and Assembly Bill A04388.
"Before the next State and Assembly sessions reconvene in January, 2020 it will be important that residents send in their letters of support for these bills to get them approved and passed," Cuadros told The Chronicle. "This town resolution is not a law, but it serves as a supportive document for the bills pending in Albany. It supports the right of every resident to make their own decision as to whether or not they want to jeopardize their health and safety and pay an unnecessary penalty fee to the utility company."
Orange & Rockland began installing smart meters in the Village of Chester last month, and in the next few months will begin installing them in the town.
"Residents need to know that they have the right to refuse the smart meter and 'opt out”' if they are concerned about the health, safety and security risks posed by the radiofrequency radiation emitted from the smart meters, the fire hazards, and the risk of personal data breach," said Cuadros.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct a typo.