Following months of complaints related to “smart” meters--from opt-out fees to health impacts--the Sacramento Municipal Utility District scheduled a public workshop to discuss the issues. “SMUD staff will provide a review and update of our smart meter project, muni general manager John DiStasio said Jan. 10. “We’re considering having an industry expert also speak to provide a national perspective on the state of smart meters nationwide,” DiStasio added. Speaking for digital meter opposition, Josh Hart, Stop Smart Meters director, alleged that the utility’s policy is an “abject failure.” He added, “SMUD’s response to customer health problems with smart meters has been to insult the victims of their poorly planned deployment, lie and attempt to cover up the number and power of the emissions, and charge people some of the highest opt-out fees in the state.” The workshop is scheduled Feb. 21, following a 5 p.m. board meeting Since summer 2012, a small but vocal group of residents have repeatedly complained to the board about everything from the opt-out fees for those wanting to have analog meters reinstalled, to “smart” meters’ alleged health effects. “Previously when we’ve had these discussions, they’ve not been on an agenda and the board has not been able to comment, so it’ll give the board an opportunity to both consider the public comment and comment as well,” DiStasio said. Speakers were limited to three minutes to state their case in the past meetings, a policy that’s likely to be altered for the workshop, according to DiStasio. Out of about 600,000 customers in its service territory, about 2,300 residential customers and 200 commercial customers initially declined smart meters before the op-out program was implemented in March 2012, according to SMUD, amounting to about 0.42 percent of all ratepayers. But during the Oct. 18 board meeting, DiStasio said that of the 2,300 customers, only 370 ultimately chose the op-out option. Opt-out fees are $14/month, plus a one-time $127 fee to cover physical installation and removal of a meter.