PG&E under fire from angry SmartMeter customers

March 12, 2010 6:17:12 PM PST
Angry Pacific Gas & Electric customers showed up at a meeting in Walnut Creek on Friday to let the utility know exactly what they think of their new SmartMeters.

"This is all about corporate profits," said Vallejo's Mark Dieteman. "It's about controlling every aspect of your life." Dieteman would not let an installer onto his property last month, but other customers have. Some complain about a surge in their meter readings and bills. Others worry about privacy, since the new digital meters will eventually be enabled for remote monitoring by PG&E.

PG&E spokesperson Daivd Eisenhauer told ABC7 the utility has installed about five million of the new meters in their service area. That is about half of the 10 million total. Eisenhauer says there have been about 500 complaints.

"One could expect that there would be issues from time to time," he said. "As soon as we get concerns from customers, we investigate those to find out what is going on."

Concord's Pat Halligan says the new meter was installed at her home in November. Since then, her gas usage has doubled and electric went up about 50 percent.

"There's been absolutely no change in my household usage," Halligan said. PG&E will send a technician to Halligan's home next week. According to PG&E, the digital meters will be read manually until the whole system is up and running. In Halligan's case, the utility is checking into whether a meter reader may have misread the numbers.

"I am seeing a lot of bills that indicate there's a problem," said Ana Montes, from TURN, The Utility Reform Network. "It's not a random problem. This is an increasingly large problem for a lot of consumers. So we need to ask PG&E, we need to ask the PUC to stop the installation until the testing is done."

The Public Utilities Commission has ordered an independent investigation of the Smart Meter system, including third party testing.

PG&E urged any customers with concerns about their SmartMeters to contact them.


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