Denied: US utility’s request to charge customers for AMI opt-out


The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) has issued its final decision on a controversial request brought forward by the Alliant Energy-Interstate Power and Light Company.

The company sought approval on its request to charge customers an additional monthly fee should they choose to opt out of the company’s advanced metering infrastructure.

The request was rejected, and Alliant has been ordered to file revised tariffs for IUB board review and approval.

As part of the ruling, the board ordered the following to be included in the revised tariff schedule:

  • Allow all residential customers taking service on the general residential rate to opt out of the AMI meter programme. The option to opt out will not be available to non-residential customers or for those taking service under an optional, non-standard rate.
  • Customers must be the customer of record and can opt out on an ongoing, permanent basis.
  • Allow the opt-out option without any fee or charge to customers at this time. The IUB found meter-reading costs are presently included in customers’ base rates.
  • Allow customers who currently have an analog meter to retain that meter as their alternative until such a time as the meter fails or otherwise must be replaced.
  • Provide a choice of a non-transmitting digital meter or an AMI meter set to pulse only once per month to other customers electing the opt-out option.
  • Use actual meter reads twice per year with estimated bills for the remaining months for customers who elect the opt-out option with an analog or non-transmitting digital meter.

The IUB’s order also requires Alliant to:

  • File a tariff allowing an area-wide opt-out option and detailing the parameters for such an option.
  • File a revised privacy policy that limits the selling or giving away of customer identifiable information without customer consent within 30 days of the date of this order.
  • File a proposed customer notice that describes the options and processes to opt out for IUB review at the time the company files the compliance tariffs consistent with today’s IUB order. 

Alliant filed the proposed tariffs with IUB for approval on 1 March 2018, reflecting a list of proposed services and charges. The proposal included a $15 dollar per month charge to customers who elected to opt out of having a smart meter installed.

The IUB held public hearings regarding Alliant’s proposed tariffs on November 5 and 6, and December 5, 2018 addressing issues raised at the utility company’s request, and concerns expressed in three outstanding informal complaint files. These mainly involved customers and individuals from the Decorah, Cedar Rapids and Fairfield regions of the state.