PG&E worker threatens homeowner over SmartMeter

June 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A SmartMeter or your power -- that was the ultimatum one man faced when he told the installer he didn't want one. That homeowner caught the worker's strong arm tactics on tape during a show-down over PG&E's controversial SmartMeters.

Charles Pine says he turned down a SmartMeter last year, but on June 6th as he was eating lunch in his home in East Oakland, he claims he saw a PG&E truck pull in unannounced.

"I look out the window and I see this stranger in a PG&E uniform," said Pine.

Pine confronted the man who appeared to be a PG&E worker and told him he didn't want a SmartMeter. He had a pocket tape recorder and says he was rolling when the worker said he'd call his boss.

PG&E worker: They're going to call you and discuss with you either cutting you off at the line or allowing us to put it in.

Pine: What do you mean, cutting you off at the line?

PG&E worker: They're going to discontinue your service.

Later, Pine says the uniformed man repeated the message.

PG&E worker: They're going to say, "Either we install it or you find another energy company."

"It's quite a serious procedure to cut off someone's electricity because they don't agree to a SmartMeter," said Pine.

Pine says the uniformed worker returned 45 minutes later and handed him a card with a PG&E opt-out hotline number.

"I imagine they're under tremendous pressure, the employees, to install those last few meters and I think the tactics were outrageous. You don't go onto someone's property without notice, you don't change out the meter, particularly with all this controversy," said Pine.

"If our employee actually made that statement, we are sorry because that is not our policy and we're looking into this. We're making contact the customer and we want to find out the facts and make it clear that they do have the option of delaying their SmartMeter installation," said PG&E spokesperson Joe Molica.

PG&E says customers can get on a delay list and can hold off on SmartMeter installation until the California Public Utilities Commission makes a decision on a radio-off option. That means PG&E would install SmartMeters, but a meter reader would still have to come out to those homes.

"The issue isn't whether PG&E has the authority to shut people's power off for refusing a SmartMeter because actually they do have that authority. The real issue is what's a smart way to win customer support for SmartMeters?" said Mark Toney from The Utility Reform Network.

So you don't have to get a SmartMeter, at least not yet, but you do have to get your name on PG&E's delay list.

To delay getting a SmartMeter:
PG&E's SmartMeter delay list request line: 1-877-743-7378


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