KIUC: No cost to defer smart meters for now

LIHU‘E — Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative has just started rolling out its smart meter installation schedule, a process that will take about a year until full implementation islandwide, according to KIUC spokesperson Jim Kelly.

For those who don’t want a smart meter, there are two ways to defer an installation — verbally at the time of installation or in writing prior to installation. But in the event of a verbal refusal, the customer still needs to file a written deferral.

KIUC on Thursday dismissed rumors of confrontations and workers charging residents who wish to not have a smart meter installed. If KIUC finds out a worker has charged a resident to keep the old meter, that worker would be out of a job the next day, Kelly said.

“There is no cost to defer installation,” said Kelly, adding that down the road, that may change.

“Depending on the number of deferrals, we may have to look at trying to recover some of the costs of maintaining two systems,” he said.

But that discussion is far in the future, Kelly said, and it’s not something an installer would discuss with a customer.

If a customer is present at the time of installation and tells the installer not to install the smart meter, the installer is supposed to hand the customer a card explaining the deferral process and tell the customer to call customer service, Kelly said.

The installer is then supposed to leave without debate, confrontation or threats, he said.

“No installer will proceed with an installation if the customer is standing there saying no,” Kelly said.

But the customer needs to follow through by submitting the deferral form, he said. Those who don’t want a smart meter can call KIUC customer service at 246-4300 to confirm whether they are on the deferral list.

“But remember, we have to have the form — verbal won’t cut it,” Kelly said.

The person who makes the decision regarding the smart meter has to be the person whose name is on the utility account, according to Kelly.

Renters who have accounts in their names have the choice, he said, but if the landlord feels differently, “then that’s something for the two of them to work out.”

If the renter’s name is not on the account, then it’s up to the landlord to ask for a deferral, according to Kelly.

Kelly said at this time he doesn’t know how many people have asked for a deferral. He also said if a smart meter was installed and the customer had requested a deferral, KIUC will remove the meter.

Deferral forms — good for residences and businesses — are available at http://website.kiuc.coop or at KIUC’s office at 4463 Pahe‘e St. in Lihu‘e.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@ thegardenisland.com.

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