City Commission recommends 'opt in' for smart meters

By: 
Sep. 19, 2012

The City Commission approved a recommendation to the Florida Public Service Commission that smart meters only be installed at the homes of Ormond Beach residents who request them.

BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER

While the Ormond Beach city commissioners are unable to dictate to Florida Power and Light how residents will be included in the smart meter program, they passed along a recommendation.

In response to public comments made during its Sept. 4 meeting, the City Commission approved a resolution encouraging the Florida Public Service Commission to direct FPL to only install smart meters for residents who "opt in," rather than installing them for all except in cases where residents "opt out."

The public comments against automatic inclusion centered around health, safety and privacy concerns. According to FPL, the smart meters will allow the company to track usage over a secured wireless network and provide customers with information about how much electricity they’re using by the hour.

More than a dozen residents attended the meeting to thank the commission for approving the resolution and further stating their concerns over the smart meters. The resolution was voted on and passed 5-0.

“I’m someone who talks about smaller government, not just when it’s convenient,” Commissioner James Stowers said. “This is an area that is highly regulated. It’s regulated by the state commission, the public service commission.”

While Stowers still voted to approve the resolution, he warned against the City Commission stepping outside its jurisdiction.

In the resolution, the City Commission stated that while it takes “no position regarding the validity of the residents’ concerns,” it requests that the utility company “only install the meters at the homes of residents who request them.”

The Florida Public Service Commission staff will conduct a technical workshop on smart meters Thursday, Sept. 20, in Tallahassee.

Renewed lobbying agreement

The City Commission voted to renew the engagement letter the law firm of Pennington, Moore, Wilkinson, Bell & Dunbar, which has provided the city with lobbying services to the state Legislature since 2001.

The city will pay the law firm $32,000 for its services over the next year, the same amount it received this year.

“There’s no doubt in my mind this is a wonderful law firm,” Commissioner Troy Kent said.

However, he voted against the resolution because he felt city already had great representation in the state house in former mayor Fred Costello. And while Kent said Costello’s term is almost up, he said he’s “hedging his bets” that the next representative will also have Ormond Beach roots.

According to the city, the benefits provided by the law firm during the 2012 legislative session included weekly reports on the status of all legislation impacting the city.

The city also said the law firm helped defeat the red light camera repeal bills, the fertilizer preemption bill and the local business tax repeal.