Smart Meters and the Law

What is a Smart Meter?

“Smart Meters” are wireless, digital meters (computers) that store electric usage data all day long and transmit this data via a two-way wireless communication network throughout the day. In Illinois, ComEd is accelerating the deployment of Smart Meters while the largest Massachusetts electric utility declared Smart Meters as “Irrational.” Current analog meters have been safely used for decades; they still work. Smart Meters do not improve grid reliability and provide little, if any benefits to the customer.  We found no studies proving Smart Meters to be safe while plenty of data (health, fires and privacy) exists to raise credible doubts. Note: Smart Meters are also known as “Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI).”   For more information:

 Keep Your Analog Meter

Call ComEd’s deployment department at 866-368-8326 and tell them you do not consent to having your analog meter replaced by a Smart Meter, nor will you pay the refusal fee ($21.53/month). Follow up with a certified letter to… and copy your city manager or mayor:

Mr. Tom Przytulski
Commonwealth Edison
3 Lincoln Center
Oak Brook Terrace, Illinois 60181

A sample letter was posted on on April 26, 2014.

Put a weatherproof sign on your analog meter stating “NO Smart Meter” another one by your front door and No trespassing signs to keep the installer off your property

The Law are Smart Meters mandated or not?

Federal Law

Provisions within the (federal) 2005 Energy Policy Act states that “Each electric utility… shall provide each customer requesting a time-based rate with a time-based meter…” This implies that Smart Meters are not required for all.

Illinois Statute– the Public Utilities Act covers electric utilities

Sec. 16-108.6 says that each participating utility, other than a combination utility, shall file a Smart Grid AMI Deployment Plan that includes “deployment of AMI to all customers.” Does this imply that Smart Meters are mandatory?  ComEd fits this category.

“Combination utility” means a utility that, as of January 1, 2011, provided electric service to at least one million retail customers in Illinois and gas service to at least 500,000 retail customers in Illinois.

… AMI Deployment Plan… and to 62% of all customers for a participating utility that is a combination utility.

“all customers” vs. “62%” seams arbitrary – but, that’s our law.


Sec. 16-124 states “…An electric utility shall not require a residential or small commercial retail customer to take additional metering or metering capability as a condition of taking delivery services unless the Commission finds, after notice and hearing, that additional metering or metering capability is required to meet reliability requirements.”  We have not found any such ICC finding, meeting or notice.

List of ICC documents concerning smart meters


from ICC Docket No. 13-0552


The ICC sets a surcharge with the purpose of incentivizing Smart meter acceptance.

Minutes from the February 5th, 2014 ICC meeting in Chicago

COMMISSIONER del VALLE: (page 7, line 24 to page 8 line 12)

My proposed edit would be added to the Commission and Analysis and Conclusion section on page 13 of the proposed Order. It reads as follows: Purpose of this charge is primarily to motivate customers to switch while also avoiding the socialization of costs incurred by customers’ refusals. In the interest of transparency and to insure that this tariff has the desired effect, the Commission directs ComEd to make this charge a separate line item in each customer’s bill and use language for that line item that makes it absolutely clear that the charge is a penalty assessed as a consequence of the customer’s refusal.  The Commission recommends smart meter refusal charge as the language.

On pages 8 to 9 the chairman discusses “Rate Shock” and setting utility rates for wealth redistribution


When this was sold to the General Assembly, it was sold on the basis that having all these meters in place means a lot for the system. That was part of the reason behind the hundred percent language in the statute are all customers’ language in the statute.  I also think we need to revisit the cost issue itself. We’ve got tariffs for similar kinds of operations that are a lot more expensive than this. I understand not wanting to have rate shock on particular customers; but the reality is whatever we don’t charge these customers, other customers are paying for. So it’s just as true that the well-to-do customer may be getting subsidized by the person of moderate or low means as well if they choose — if the person of means chooses to refuse in this case. And I don’t think that’s what anybody wants either. So I agree with you that the purpose here is to try to make sure we don’t have as many refusals. I think a cost does that, but I really think we need to continue to revisit to make sure that the cost is a correct one for a lot of different reasons.

My interpretation is that this ICC rate setting for Smart Meter refusal charge is illegal as it conflicts with the Illinois Public Utilities Act section 16-124.  Furthermore, the “all customers” language in the Illinois Public Utility Act Section 16-108.6 refers to the utility company’s AMI Deployment Plan, not to the customer’s acceptance of the meter.  Admitting that the opt-out fee is to “motivate” means they admit its purpose is “extortion” – “the crime of obtaining something such as money or information from somebody by using force, threats, or other unacceptable methods”

City of Wheaton’s “Police Powers”

From Page 31 in the franchise agreement between the City of Wheaton and ComEd, the city can restrict what ComEd installs if there is a question of health, safety or welfare of the city’s citizens and their properties.


9.1 Police Powers.  The City expressly reserves the right  to adopt, from time-to-time, in addition to the provisions contained herein, such ordinances, rules and regulations as the corporate Authorities may deem necessary in the exercise of the police powers for the protection of the health, safety and welfare of the city’s citizens and their propertied.


We took this issue to the City of Wheaton.  Their response was to create a pro-Smart Meter video for the city web site, and to send us a letter, declining to do anything for us.

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