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As a result of a lawsuit filed against the utility, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) has announced that it will "indefinitely defer" smart meter installations for those who oppose the technology.

KIUC expressed disappointment in the decision of a local smart meter opponent to file a complaint with the federal court in Honolulu last week requesting an injunction to prevent the utility from moving forward with its rollout of smart meters.

"While KIUC is committed to the smart meter technology, the cooperative has said it will indefinitely defer installation of smart meters for the small number of members who are opposed to the technology and submit a formal request," says David Bissell, CEO of KIUC. "We hoped this deferral program and our many conversations with the community about smart meters would relieve the concerns raised by the plaintiff and prevent this issue from ending up in the courts."

The complaint filed against KIUC asks the court to stop the utility's installation of smart meters, require KIUC to use an "opt-in" system for future installations of smart meters and have all KIUC members subsidize the expense associated with maintaining two separate metering systems.

Under the deferred installation plan, the members will receive two weeks' notice prior to installation, and will be given clear instructions for notifying KIUC if they would like to defer. The utility says it will take time to assess the situation with those who defer and determine the most appropriate long-term solution.

The complaint, which closely mirrors a similar action filed against the city of Naperville, Ill., cites security and privacy concerns as the basis for its action.

"KIUC understands the importance of protecting our members' privacy and security," says Bissell. "It is important for our members to remember that KIUC has been responsible for protecting critical information and systems for years. Smart meters are new, but the duty to protect member privacy and ensure the integrity of our electrical grid is not. The storage, protection and sharing of members' private information is strictly governed by co-op bylaws and policies."

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