A local citizen activist is suing the New York Public Service Commission and Central Hudson Gas & Electric to allow for non-electric frequency emitting analog meters.

Stop Smart Meters Woodstock NY co-founder Steve Romine, 68, of Woodstock, recently filed suit in state Supreme Court in Albany County, claiming Central Hudson’s “Encoder Receiver Transmitter” meters are actually just an older form of smart meters.

Central Hudson contends the digital meters are routine upgrades, made since the late 1990s, for old or failing analog meters, that analog meters are no longer made and ERTs are not smart meters.

The company also says customers already have the option of using a free “non-radio digital meter” rather than the standard ERT meter.

"Central Hudson is not deploying smart meters as a standard replacement," John Maserjian, the utility's spokesman, said in a statement. “ERT meters are not connected to a network as smart meters are, and must still be read by meter readers using a hand-held device that receives a signal from the meter.”

In his suit, Romine, like other local citizen activists, counters that Central Hudson’s non-radio digital meters are, in fact, just a primitive form of smart meters. And he contends they still add electromagnetic radiation throughout a house.

He wants Central Hudson ratepayers to have the choice of remanufactured analog meters — an option other states have made utilities offer — because analog meters only create a magnetic field in their immediate vicinity.

Romine and his group are among the local opponents battling regional utilities in and out of court to stop smart meters, wireless digital meters that emit radio waves and allow for remote readings.

Other opponents include environmental consultant Deborah Kopald of Highlands, the New York Safe Utility Meter Association and Protect Orange County. Kopald has sued the PSC and Orange & Rockland to prevent the company’s rollout of smart electric meters and gas modules.

In October 2017, digital meter opponents successfully lobbied the state PSC to make Central Hudson stop charging residential customers a $6 monthly “opt-out” fee if they refused to have their analog meters replaced.

The commission also required Central Hudson to offer “non-communicating, solid-state” meters to its customers, if they request them, without a one-time fee for replacing an already-installed automated meter.

But Romine points out that, if an ERT has already been installed, Central Hudson does charge $49 for an electric meter, $89 for a gas meter, or $114 together, to put in a digital, non-radio meter.

“This is not about us” at Stop Smart Meters Woodstock NY, said Romine, who wants customers to opt-in to using smart meters rather than having to opt-out. “This is about the whole customer base. We want people to have the option to have a time-tested safe analog meter at no cost.”

daxelrod@th-record.com