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Alliant Energy

The state has denied Alliant Energy’s proposal to charge residential customers a fee to opt out of the utility company’s growing network of smart meters.

The Iowa Utilities Board on Wednesday rejected Alliant’s proposed electric and natural gas tariffs. The tariffs included language that would charge customers an extra $15 per month for each meter if they choose to stick with their existing digital meter.

A Wednesday email from the board notes that tariffs must allow residential customers to opt out of advanced metering infrastructure — without charging a fee or charge.

An opt-out option will not be available to non-residential customers or those involved in an optional, non-standard rate.

The ruling directs Alliant to allow an area-wide opt-out option.

As of December, Alliant had deployed smart meters on about 335,000 of its roughly 500,000 meters in Iowa. The utility switched its roughly 470,000 Wisconsin customers to smart meters about a decade ago.

The meters send data back to the company, allowing it to better detect power outages so energy can be restored more quickly and provide more accurate information to customers in their energy bills.

Alliant officials have said smart meters provide a cost savings, as they do not need to be read manually every month.

With that in mind, the utility had proposed in its tariffs fees for those wishing to stick with their existing meters.

Opponents of smart meters — some of which have raised concerns of security, privacy and public health — have argued that opting out of the advanced meter infrastructure should not result in added fees for customers.

The Iowa Utilities Board on Wednesday ruled that meter-reading costs are present in a customers’ base rates.

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