Regulators unsupportive of SmartMeters moratorium

A moratorium on the installation of PG&E SmartMeters appears unlikely despite mounting problems with the devices.

April 27, 2010 5:36:38 PM PDT
A moratorium on the installation of PG&E smart meters appears unlikely tonight despite mounting problems with the devices. As 7 On Your Side previously reported, PG&E now says more than 43,000 SmartMeters have had various problems of one kind or the other. As the problems mount, so have the calls for a moratorium.

State Senator Dean Florez, D-Bakersfield, wants a moratorium pending an investigation.

"It just makes no sense to continue to put these machines on homes," Florez said.

So does the executive director of The Utility Reform Network.

"There's going to be a lot more pressure that's building to a moratorium on the installation of these SmartMeters until the investigation is done," TURN executive director Mark Toney said.

The two repeated their calls after PG&E confirmed on Monday that it had problems with tens of thousands of SmartMeters.

Hundreds of people have complained to 7 On Your Side the meters have lead to inaccurate energy readings and inflated bills, and just fewer than 1,000 filed formal complaints with the state.

But so far, the agency charged with regulating utilities in California has only opposed putting the meters on hold.

"It's costly to start a new technology program and then stop it, and then start it again. We would only do that if we knew there was a problem that needed to be fixed," California Public Utilities Commission Executive Director Paul Clanon said.

Clanon says even one problem is too many, but he's confident the 5.5 million meters already installed won't have to be pulled out and replaced.

"If there are problems and people are reporting to us problems, they're likely to be found somewhere else," he said.

"The PUC seems to be this lackadaisical company or agency that simply wants to see these SmartMeters in everyone's home. And we're concerned about that. They should be a watch dog, they should be looking out for the consumer," Florez said.

The commission's investigation of SmartMeters is not expected to be completed until August. In the meantime, PG&E continues to install SmartMeters at a rate of 15,000 a day.


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