The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today modified Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) smart meter program to include an analog meter option for residential customers who do not wish to have a wireless Smart Meter installed. Customers opting for an analog meter will be assessed an initial fee of $75 and a monthly charge of $10. Customers enrolled in the CPUC’s low income program will be assessed an initial fee of $10 and a monthly charge of $5.
CPUC President Michael R. Peevey explains, “The standard for metering has been transitioning worldwide from the older technology of analog meters to today’s Smart Meter technology. We are not reversing that transition by allowing for an analog opt-out, but we are recognizing that certain customers prefer an analog meter.”
Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon said the decision “provides a choice to customers who would like to opt-out of PG&E’s Smart Meter installation program at a much lower costs than originally proposed. It is a great example of how public initiative and participation can result in better regulatory policy.”
The costs approved today are interim to allow residential customers to begin selecting the opt-out option immediately. The costs could be adjusted at a later date.
PG&E expressed support for the CPUC’s decision.
Helen Burt, PG&E’s Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, notes, “We know personal choice is important to our customers when it comes to the meters on their homes. This final decision in support of analog meters is a positive step forward for those who have concerns over wireless technology. We understand some customers have been waiting for this decision, and we are actively reaching out to those who have expressed their desire for a smart meter alternative.”
Currently, PG&E has installed nearly nine million gas and electric smart meters. Independent studies have consistently found the devices are safe and accurate.
Burt adds: “The vast majority of our customers are already seeing the many benefits of smart meters. By choosing to stay with our program, our customers will continue having control by seeing where they can save energy throughout the course of the day and making simple but effective changes around the home to save money.”
While this may be seen as a win for the anti-smart meter movement, it's more of a "fine, whatever!". What is clear, more education is needed to explain the effects and benefits of smart energy technology as it is inevitable that our homes, appliances and vehicles will increasingly be built and manufactured with Smart Technologies in mind. Perhaps now, energy companies can get on with upgrading infrastructure and continue to roll outs Smart Meter technology instead of being bogged down by a minority hearsay movement.