San Francisco Moves To Stop Smart Meters

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    NEWSLETTERS

     San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera asked a state  commission today to halt PG&E's SmartMeter program until an investigation  into the accuracy of the meters is complete.

         Herrera is asking the California Public Utilities Commission to  suspend its authorization for PG&E to install the SmartMeters, which are  advanced utility meters that wirelessly communicate usage information to  customers and utility companies.      Since PG&E began installing the meters throughout the state in  November 2006, the CPUC, PG&E and various consumer advocacy groups have  received numerous complaints about overcharging and other concerns.
         In March, the CPUC launched an investigation into the program,  citing about 600 complaints in the PG&E service area since January 2009,  compared to 10 in Edison's service area in Southern California and 15 in the  San Diego Gas and Electric Company's service area.
         Herrera said in a statement today, "Common sense should argue  against installing millions of defective SmartMeters until their problems are  fixed, and questions about their accuracy are fully resolved."
         San Francisco is the first city in PG&E's service area to formally  petition the CPUC to halt the program, according to the city attorney's  office.
         The utility company apologized in May for problems with the  SmartMeter program, acknowledging that tens of thousands of customers have  been affected by faulty meters, many of which had a piece of equipment called  a "gas module" that was incorrectly installed, resulting in an incorrect gas  bill.
         However, PG&E officials argued that those errors had been  rectified, and that millions of the meters have been installed without any  reported problems.
         The company has installed about 5.8 million SmartMeters, and plans  to install another 3.9 million.
         PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith said today that "we do not believe a  moratorium (on installing the meters) is necessary, and the California Public  Utilities Commission has agreed with us."
         Smith said, "This kind of technology is already in place and  working well around the world, with many different kinds of utilities," and  added that San Francisco is using the same technology for the city's water  meters as PG&E does for gas meters.
         "We believe by continuing those installations, we will provide our  customers in San Francisco with many benefits and allow them greater control  over their energy," he said.
         But Herrera's petition argued that the benefits of the greater  control the SmartMeters provide do not outweigh the risk of inaccuracies and  overcharges to customers.
         "Receiving a timely and correct bill from PG&E is the least a  customer is entitled to expect," Herrera said in the petition. "Customers  should not be in the position of wondering whether their bills are accurate  or whether the equipment installed by PG&E is working properly."