Not before Jan. 12, 2012, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will act on its Smart Meter opt-out proposal. On Nov. 22, the CPUC issued a “proposed decision” about Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) opt out policy.

Jan. 12 is the earliest the CPUC can cast a final vote on the proposed decision, which modifies PG&E’s Smart Meter program. It would include a provision for residential customers who do not want installation of a Smart Meter at their homes. The decision would allow, by Jan. 1, 2014, any PG&E customer to have a noncommunicating electric and gas meter that is capable of monitoring energy use and being read manually for billing purposes.

Consumers electing to opt out would be assessed an initial fee of $90 (a reduction of the $270 PG&E had proposed) and a monthly charge of $15 each month thereafter (a reduction of the $15 monthly fee PG&E had proposed). CPUC’s proposed decision also rejected the $130 exit fee charged to any opt out customer who subsequently decided to have a Smart Meter or who terminated service.

If the CPUC votes to approve the proposed decision, the vote will effectively terminate the Smart Meter installation delay list ordered by commissioners on Sept. 21, 2011. All persons on the list would then either receive a Smart Meter or elect to participate in the opt-out option.

Comments on the proposed decision must be filed with the CPUC prior to Dec. 12 and can be lodged by calling the CPUC’s Public Advisor’s Office at (866) 849-8391 or (213) 576-7055 or by email at [email protected].