Smart meters come under fire

The installation of new digital “smart” meters for measuring gas and electricity has resulted in customer confusion and frustration across the state, prompting a class-action lawsuit and calls for a moratorium on the PG&E devices.

SmartMeters are currently being installed throughout the Bay Area. Large portions of Peninsula cities are scheduled to have their standard meters replaced by the end of 2010, according to PG&E’s deployment schedule. The rollout is slated to start in San Francisco in September.

The technology allows for two-way communication between the utility company and a meter, meaning usage information is now sent digitally to PG&E without the assistance of a meter reader.

The devices also allow individual consumers to track their energy usage online. According to PG&E, allowing customers to see how much gas and electricity they are using, and when their use is highest, will encourage changes intended to reduce energy use.

There have been widespread complaints, however, that consumers have seen higher bills after the SmartMeters were installed and that the devices are not accurate. On Friday, the California Public Utilities Commission agreed that the hiring of an independent consultant to test the meters was warranted in light of the concerns.

State Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez, D-Shafter, hand-delivered a request to the CPUC to place a moratorium on the meters and rate hikes until problems with the technology are resolved. The decision came in the wake of a lawsuit against PG&E filed in Bakersfield from a customer who said he’s being overcharged.

PG&E officials, however, say the confusion and complaints about higher bills is the result of increases to rate and energy usage.

“If you run an air conditioner … it takes more energy,” PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno told The Examiner. “The meters are accurate.”

The Utility Reform Network, a San Francisco-based ratepayer advocacy group, was among those who asked the California Public Utilities Commission to stop installation of the meters until problems are resolved, said Mindy Spatt, a spokeswoman for the organization.

Installation of the SmartMeters was approved by the utilities commission two years ago, Moreno said. The total cost is $2.2 billion.

New utility gadgets

SmartMeters are being installed throughout the Bay Area.

Deployment
City/schedule
Daly City  8/08-12/09
South City  8/08-12/09
San Mateo  12/08-4/10
Redwood City  12/08-4/10
Burlingame  12/08-4/10
San Francisco  9/10-3/12

Source: PG&E

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsLocalneighborhoods

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police Officer Nicholas Buckley, pictured here in 2014, is now working out of Bayview Station. <ins>(Department of Police Accountability records)</ins>
SF police return officer to patrol despite false testimony

A San Francisco police officer accused of fabricating a reason for arresting… Continue reading

Disability advocates protested outside the home of San Francisco Health Officer Tomas Aragon. (Courtesy Brooke Anderson)
Vaccine rollout plan for people with disabilities remains deeply flawed

On February 13, disability activists paid a visit to the house of… Continue reading

Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Shamann Walton announced that funding would be diverted from the police budget toward the black community in June 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City directs $60 million toward Black community services and housing support

San Francisco released new details Thursday for how it plans to spend… Continue reading

The Stud, The City’s oldest gay bar which is vacating its longtime home at Ninth and Harrison streets after more than 50 years, on Thursday, May 21, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City’s nightlife recovery fund approved but struggling business owners fear relief may come too late

As San Francisco’s nightlife scene approaches nearly a year of a complete… Continue reading

Riordan Crusaders versus St. Ignatius Wildcats at JB Murphy Field on the St. Ignatius Prepatory High School Campus on September 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner)
State allows high school sports to resume, but fight is far from over

For the first time since mid-March 2020, there is hope for high… Continue reading

Most Read