Bill Description: House Bill 706 amends Idaho Code to allow consumers to opt out of using smart meters to measure their utility usage.
Does it give government any new, additional, or expanded power to prohibit, restrict, or regulate activities in the free market?
House Bill 706 mandates that utility companies give consumers the ability to opt out of smart meters and requires them to replace these units with traditional meters upon a customer’s request. This is a new control on how these companies interact with their customers and provide their services. Furthermore, it changes how they must organize their businesses to make manual meter checks possible. This is clearly a new attempt to regulate the free market.
Although HB 706 expands regulatory controls on businesses, it also expands the rights of the consumer to engage with the free market. This is because utility companies – especially electric and water companies – are most often a monopoly in their jurisdiction, leaving consumers with no alternatives to higher prices or disagreeable business practices. If a utility company decides to install smart meters on all homes in its jurisdiction, consumers would have no alternative if they wanted to reject this service. Therefore, this policy would expand consumers’ control over their personal property and how they engage in commerce.