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August 3, 2015

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Agreement reached on refusal of smart meters

The state Bureau of Consumer Protection, at odds with NV Energy over the replacement of smart meters, has reached a compromise to allow electric customers to keep their existing analog meters — but at a price.

Many customers objected to installation of the smart meters on grounds that the radiation they emit can cause cancer and other ailments.

Under the agreement reached by consumer protection and the major electric company, those unhappy customers will be able to retain their existing analog meters but they will have to pay an up-front cost of $53.46.

And their monthly rate, in addition to the electricity used, will be $8.14 to cover the cost of employees actually going out to read the analog meter each month.

This compromise will be presented to the state Public Utilities Commission for approval. The commission is expected to hold a public hearing on the issue.

The PUC originally approved a plan by the utility to replace the controversial smart meters with digital meters, which consumers complained presented the same health hazards.

The PUC order would have permitted NV Energy to charge $98 in Clark County for the installation of the alternate digital meter. The compromise lowers that amount.

The PUC estimated there were about 4,500 opt-out consumers in the Las Vegas area and 3,000 in Northern Nevada. Many said they should be able to retain their existing analog meter without any upfront cost.

The consumer protection bureau asked the PUC to reconsider or rehear its order and suggested there not be any upfront cost for retaining the existing analog meter.

NV Energy initially said the analog meters are no longer produced by a domestic supplier of meters and they would be more expensive to maintain.

The utility now says it can obtain a sufficient supply of analog meters by reconditioning meters that are currently or were recently removed from service in Nevada.

The installation of the smart meter is for a four-year trial period.

The installation of an analog meter must be tested and reconditioned to ensure accuracy and have a new locking ring and seal. Customers who desire to have an analog meter installed to replace an existing smart meter will receive one in 90 days, says the agreement.

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