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Pacific Power says JOCO's opt-out fee ordinance likely unenforceable

KTVL/Genevieve Grippo

Josephine County Commissioners passed an ordinance Wednesday that prohibits opt-out fees for smart meters, but Pacific Power said the order might not be enforceable.

The purpose of the Josephine County Utility Regulation Ordinance is to "protect the citizens of josephine county from arbitrary and excessive fees imposed by the providers of electric utility services."

But a representative from Pacific Power said it's up to the Public Utilities Commission to regulate fees-- not local governments.

"It's a matter of jurisdiction," said Scott Bolton, Vice President of Pacific Power.

Bolton explained essentially, the PUC must approve the company's terms of service, including how they roll out programs like smart meters. Opt-out fees are a part of that approval process, and altering those fees would require additional permission.

It's an amendment the company is already in the process of under-going, Bolton said.

"[We want to] look at alternatives to accommodate customers that want to opt-out," he said. "One of the things I told the Josephine County Commissioners today is not only is this ordinance unenforceable and possible illegal, but it't also unnecessary."

Bolton couldn't comment on what legal action-- if any-- would be taken against the county.

He also said it was too early in the process to say how the company's opt-out fees might change, but confirmed an adjustment would likely come within the next several months.

Once that happens, all customers who have already paid opt-out fees would be reimbursed for the difference, he said.


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