BEFORE THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SERVICE REGULATION
OF THE STATE OF MONTANA
In the matter of the adoption of New
Rule I regarding advanced metering
AMENDED NOTICE AND EXTENSION OF COMMENT PERIOD ON PROPOSED ADOPTION
TO: All Concerned Persons
1. On January 29, 2021, the Department of Public Service Regulation published MAR Notice No. 38-5-248 pertaining to the public hearing on the proposed adoption of the above-stated rule at page 111 of the 2021 Montana Administrative Register, Issue Number 2.
2. The Department of Public Service Regulation will make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities who wish to participate in this rulemaking process or need an alternative accessible format of this notice. If you require an accommodation, contact the Department of Public Service Regulation no later than 5:00 p.m. on August 30, 2021, to advise us of the nature of the accommodation that you need. Please contact Loryn Johnson, Department of Public Service Regulation, 1701 Prospect Avenue, Helena, Montana, 59620-2601; telephone (406) 444-6170; fax (406) 444-7618; TDD/Montana Relay Service (406) 444-4212; or e-mail email@example.com.
3. On May 14, 2021, the Governor signed into law House Bill 606, which codified new definitions of "advanced metering device," "advanced meter," and "advanced metering gateway device." It also extended the deadline for the Public Service Commission (commission) to determine whether an opt-out program for advanced meters and/or advanced metering gateway devices should be established. The new deadline is July 1, 2022. The commission has determined that its proposed rule should be updated to align with the new statutory definitions for these terms.
4. The new rule as proposed to be adopted is being amended from the original proposal as follows, new matter underlined, deleted matter interlined:
NEW RULE I ADVANCED METERING OPT-OUT PROVISIONS (1)
An electric Electric and natural gas utility utilities shall provide customers with the option to remove an installed advanced meter device and replace it with a traditional an alternative meter approved by the commission, or to decline installation of an advanced metering device and retain a traditional the existing meter, as guided by a cost-based , tariffed opt-out service tariff. An advanced metering device or advanced meter shall be defined as set forth in Montana Code Annotated. As used in this rule, "alternative meter" means all other meters that do not satisfy the definition of advanced metering device or advanced meter.
(2) Prior to installation of an advanced metering device, the utility shall give written notice to the customer at least 60 days in advance. Such notice shall clearly describe the opt-out process available to the customer and must include the following language: "Montana law allows customers to opt-out of the use of advanced metering devices according to terms and conditions set by the Montana Public Service Commission. No utility company can require the use of an advanced metering device. If you have questions about your opt-out rights, please contact the Montana Public Service Commission at 1-800-646-6150."
(3) The electric utility shall notify the customer of the following if a customer expresses interest in using
a traditional an alternative meter:
(a) The customer will be required to pay the amount of the approved tariff charge determined by the commission, if applicable.
(b) The electric utility shall explain the facts concerning advanced meters and attempt to address any customer concerns prior to signing up a customer for advanced meter opt-out service. To the extent that the electric utility offers multiple options for the customer to obtain or retain either an advanced meter or
a traditional an alternative meter, the utility shall explain each option and the associated costs allowable charges, if any, and give allow the customer choice over to choose from the options selection available.
The electric utility shall Any utility whose deployment of advanced metering devices commenced prior to the effective date of this rule must submit a schedule and a proposed tariff within 180 days of the effective date of this rule. Any utility that begins deployment of advanced metering devices after the effective date of this rule must file a schedule and proposed tariff for opt-out service at least 120 days prior to the installation of advanced metering devices.
(5) When applying for approval of an opt-out service tariff, the
A utility shall address circumstances unique to the utility in its tariff application, including what fees, if any, should be charged to recover costs, such as the cost of removing an existing advanced meter and the subsequent installation of a traditional an alternative meter, or costs associated with providing meter reading and billing services associated with the use of a traditional an alternative meter. Every initial or revised tariff submitted pursuant to this rule must describe all alternative meters available to customers and provide a reasonable estimate of costs associated with each alternative meter.
(6) To promote customer choice, every utility must identify at least one alternative to an advanced meter in every tariff submitted pursuant to this rule, for commission approval. If practicable, utilities should include at least one alternative meter that does not use radio waves or internet technology to measure, record, or send a customer's utility usage information. If a utility cannot provide such an alternative, the utility must state the reasons why, and the commission will examine all alternative metering options available.
AUTH: 69-2-101, 69-2-102, 69-3-103, 69-3-203, 69-3-321, 69-4-1001, 69-4-1002, 69-4-1003, 69-4-1004, MCA
IMP: 69-4-1004, MCA
The statement of reasonable necessity is being amended as follows, new matter underlined, deleted matter interlined:
REASON: In 2019, the Montana Legislature adopted House Bill 267, which was later codified as 69-4-1001 through 69-4-1004, MCA. In 2021, the Montana Legislature adopted House Bill 606, which codified new definitions of "advanced metering device," "advanced meter," and "advanced metering gateway device." Section 69-4-1004(2), MCA requires that the department adopt rules providing options and requirements for individual customers to opt out of advanced metering installation. The department received comments from affected parties; held two virtual public listening sessions on September 30, 2020 and October 7, 2020; and received written public comment prior to compiling this proposed rule. Based on those comments and the passage of House Bill 606, it is reasonably necessary to create a process for electric and natural gas utilities to institute opt-out programs through tariffs approved by the commission. Notice of the opt-out right and information about alternatives to advanced meters are also reasonably necessary to provide a meaningful opt-out right. This proposed rule is reasonably necessary to implement the opt-out program.
5. Comments based on the original Notice of Proposed Adoption will be considered by the commission, and do not need to be resubmitted in response to this Amended Notice of Proposed Adoption. Concerned persons may submit their data, views, or arguments concerning the proposed action in writing to: Loryn Johnson, Department of Public Service Regulation, 1701 Prospect Avenue, Helena, Montana, 59620-2601; telephone (406) 444-6170; fax (406) 444-7618; TDD/Montana Relay Service (406) 444-4212; or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; and must be received no later than 5:00 p.m., August 30, 2021.
6. The Montana Consumer Counsel, 111 North Last Chance Gulch, Suite 1B, Helena, MT 59620-1703, telephone (406) 444-2771, is available and may be contacted to represent consumer interests in this matter.
/s/ Luke Casey /s/ James Brown
Luke Casey James Brown
Rule Reviewer Chair
Public Service Commission
Certified to the Secretary of State July 13, 2021.