PG&E Installing Smart Meters in Marin

Meters meant to improve efficiency unpopular with ratepayers

Utility customers in Marin County are receiving letters letting them know that their friends at Pacific Gas and Electric will soon be by to install the controversial Smart Meters.

The new meters for gas and electric use can communicate directly with PG&E, in theory allowing the utility company to more efficiently manage the energy grid.

However, after the new meters were installed in Bakersfield last year, customers complained of massive increases in utility bills.

Others object to the devices -- which communicate wirelessly -- out of misplaced concerns over electromagnetic radiation.

While PG&E says that customers simply weren't aware of how much electricity they were actually using, State Sen. Dean Flores demanded an independent audit of accuracy, and the company has admitted to some bugs.

The complaints and bad publicity about the meters are credited by PG&E opponents of helping to defeat June's Proposition 16, which would have made it more difficult for voters to approve public power programs like the one recently started in Marin County.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has asked that PG&E delay any roll-out of Smart Meters until their accuracy can be independently verified.

Jackson West loves smart meters in theory, but has serious trust issues with PG&E in practice.

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