CPUC hires independent firm to review SmartMeters

March 30, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Five months after announcing its investigation, the California Public Utilities Commission has hired a firm out of Houston, Texas.

Structure Group will independently look at whether SmartMeters are accurately measuring your energy use. The meters allow utilities to read your energy consumption remotely, but more than 600 people have filed formal complaints, claiming the readings are inaccurate and have led to higher utility bills. Structure Group plans to interview some of those consumers.

The CPUC authorized Pacific Gas & Electric to spend $1.7 billion to install the meters, but never did anything to measure their accuracy.

Approximately 5.2 million meters have already been installed by PG&E -- a million since January, despite calls for a moratorium until the investigation could be completed.

"There are definitely costs of stopping and restarting in terms of the meters we have ordered; installers are out in the field now so there would be costs," said Julie Fitch with the CPUC. "And we didn't want to incur those costs until we know for sure there is a problem."

"It's going to cost more to fix the SmartMeters if in fact there's a problem found in them after they've been installed instead of fixing them before they're installed," said Mark Toney with The Utility Reform Network.

PG&E said Tuesday it welcomes this new investigation and that its customers deserve to have confidence in the meters.


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