Pacific Gas & Electric offers customers choice to opt out of smart meters, keep using analog, mechanical ones to address unease over wireless technology; analog option to likely include initial fee for manual meter reading
December 20, 2011
– Utility Further Addresses Customer Concerns Over Wireless Technology
To provide customers who have concerns about wireless SmartMeter™ technology with alternative options for recording their energy use, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today asked the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to give customers a choice to use traditional analog, mechanical meters. This request offers another customer option in addition to the utility's proposal last March to turn off the radios in its opt-out customers' SmartMeters™.
"Some customers remain concerned about SmartMeter™ technology and want alternatives," said Helen Burt, PG&E's Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer. "Through comments to us and the CPUC, they are clear that an analog meter is the option they prefer to address their unease with wireless technology."
PG&E is installing digital, wireless SmartMeters™ throughout its service area in Northern and Central California as part of a statewide program to enhance the safety, reliability, and affordability of its gas and electric services. Similar metering programs are now underway at utilities throughout the country and around the world. To date, PG&E has installed nearly nine million gas and electric SmartMeters™.
Independent studies repeatedly have affirmed the safety and accuracy of SmartMeters™. However, in response to comments from some customers, PG&E last March proposed offering them a choice to turn off the radios in their SmartMeters™. The utility also provided customers with the option to delay the installation of new SmartMeters™ until the CPUC approves a way to opt-out of the program. Now, in response to further customer feedback, PG&E today asked the CPUC to approve analog meters as an additional alternative to receiving a SmartMeter™.
Burt added, "Personal choice is important to our customers. In response to their requests, we are asking the Commission to approve an option for customers to receive analog meters."
The CPUC is expected to issue its SmartMeter™ opt-out decision soon. That decision will likely ask customers who opt-out of the program to pay an initial fee and some reasonable monthly charge to cover the costs of manual meter reading and other associated operational and billing issues.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California.