CATHERINE PUGH ALWAYS USES THESE TACTICS DURING ELECTION SEASONS---AS DO ALL THE ESTABLISHMENT CANDIDATES-----OUT COMES THE PROGRESSIVE POSING AS ALL CITIZEN ARE GOING TO BE CRUSHED BY GLOBAL CORPORATIONS OWNING OUR HOME ENERGY AND WATER.
Do you need utility assistance? Attend the energy assistance expo on Oct. 29
This issue of our Baltimore City public conduit is HUGE-----the outsourcing of this will mean Baltimore citizens cannot rebuild a local energy, telecom structure that will be the only way to protect citizens from profiteering costs on vital services and providing that structure space needed for small businesses. When we see a headline like this----BGE EMPLOYEES DONATE IN LARGE NUMBERS TO PUGH---who will indeed hand the kit-and-kabootle to global EXELON-----IT MAKES YOU WONDER.
Then you see 30 employees. When our state BGE was handed to a national/global EXELON by O'Malley it was widely read that Baltimore employees were fired and EXELON brought in its own staff. Well, guess what? Global corporations breaking into markets ---as with UnderArmour---will bring people tied to its global brand. So, the employees with maybe lifelong ties to Baltimore were given the boot and these 30 employees are no doubt part of a global executive team. Do these temporary citizens to Baltimore care if our local public conduit is handed to a global corporation? No, they are simply working to climb a corporate ladder. Most don't even know the implications---they simply have been told by that global corporation THIS IS OUR CANDIDATE----
The rank and file employees of BGE and especially all those OUTSOURCED SUBCONTRACTORS TO SUBCONTRACTORS who earn little are the ones who will be lined out for PUGH's subsidy for low-income.
'Campaign finance filings show that more than 30 employees of BGE and parent company Exelon have donated to Pugh’s campaign'
BGE employees donate in large numbers to Catherine Pugh
State Sen. Catherine E. Pugh speaks during a Baltimore City mayoral candidates' forum at the Arena Players Theater.
(Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)
Luke BroadwaterContact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
BGE and its employees have contributed nearly $20,000 to Baltimore mayoral candidate Catherine Pugh.Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. is locked in a bitter dispute with city government over the cost of using the municipal conduit system. At the same time, the company is investing heavily in the campaign of state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, who is running for mayor.
Campaign finance filings show that more than 30 employees of BGE and parent company Exelon have donated to Pugh’s campaign — including $4,000 in contributions from BGE’s political action committee — for total of $17,500. CEO Calvin G. Butler Jr. gave her $1,000.
The company last year tried to buy the city’s potentially-lucrative conduit system for $100 million, a figure city officials called too low. In September, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration chose to triple the rate firms pay to use the system, costing BGE millions. The company has sued to try to block the rate hike.
Rawlings-Blake is not seeking re-election.
If elected mayor, Pugh said she wouldn’t be influenced by BGE’s donations. She said she believed company officials donated because she they think she is strong on energy policy.
“I’m a very smart person on energy issues,” she said. “They’re aware of my knowledge, and I know them.”
Baltimore mayoral candidate plans BGE spokesman Aaron Koos said he could not speak for the individual donors. But he said the company’s PAC “supports elected officials committed to developing sound public policy.”
I don't know about you----but if we have such a tiered list of utility assistance----look at the $4700 a month qualifying for assistance....regardless of number of children. This only sets the stage for what is a standard affordable rate we have always gotten to become increasingly more and more expensive that every citizen will be struggling
Can you imagine such a wide scale of assistance and then imagine that it is hiding something global EXELON does not want consumers to feel until it is too late.
----and if ONE WORLD FOREIGN ECONOMIC ZONES are paying $3-6 a day or for professionals $20-30 a day----
This looks just like Baltimore's tax rates where the most expensive properties pay the least taxes because they have these same regressive tiering structures and that's where this will lead. I can hear it now---don't worry that the rates are going this high----your salary will get this reduction -----for one group then another group until everyone is mad.
These are GROSS income brackets with $4700 a month eligible for subsidy?
WHY HAVE THESE STRUCTURES WHEN WE SIMPLY NEED A GLOBAL CORPORATION TO PAY FOR ITS OWN INFRASTRUCTURE?
BGE Encourages Limited Income Customers to Attend the Energy Assistance Expo to Learn about Resources to Help with Bills and for Application Assistance
BALTIMORE (Oct. 30, 2015) –Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) will join representatives from the Maryland Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP), the City of Baltimore, the Fuel Fund of Maryland and members of the 40th District legislative team, including Senator Catherine Pugh, to host an Energy Assistance Expo. Limited-income customers who live in Baltimore City are encouraged to attend the expo on Saturday, Oct. 31 at the Coppin State University Talon Center, 2500 West North Avenue, Baltimore. From 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., attendees can speak with representatives from BGE and receive assistance with the application process for energy assistance grants.
"It is extremely important that customers reach out to BGE before finding themselves in a crisis, so we can work together to identify solutions," said Rob Biagiotti, BGE’s vice president of customer operations and chief customer officer. "There are resources available to eligible customers that can help address past-due amounts as well as future payments. BGE also has a Budget Billing program available to all customers which spreads payments out over a 12 month period, so customers aren’t as affected by seasonal increases in energy use."
If a customer’s most recent monthly income is less than or equal to the amount below, they may be eligible for energy assistance and help with energy bills. Customers do not need to have a turn-off notice to apply for energy assistance.
Household Size Maximum Monthly Gross Income
For each additional person, add $607.00.
Customers applying for energy assistance should bring the following with them for processing:
- Government-issued photo identification
- Proof of residence (lease, rent book, mortgage statement)
- Copies of Social Security Cards for all household members, including children
- Proof of all of your household’s total gross income for the last 30 days (from all sources of income)
- The name of your home energy supplier and account number
- A copy of your most recent utility bill
Additional Resources for Customers:
BGE’s Community Resource Guide (informally known as The Purple Book) – A collection of resources and information about assistance programs of all kinds – federal, state and local, as well as programs from BGE and non-profit providers. The Guide is available in English and Spanish.
Electric Universal Service Program (EUSP) and Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) - EUSP is a state program that helps qualifying limited-income customers pay the electric portion of their bills. MEAP provides a grant for qualifying limited-income customers regardless of their heating source. Customers may apply for either or both programs once a year, starting July 1 each year. The programs provide bill payment assistance, resolution of past utility debts and selected weatherization services to make residences more energy efficient. Call 800-352-1446 for information. EUSP and MEAP applications and brochures can be downloaded from the Maryland Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) website.
Utility Service Protection Program (USPP) - Customers who enroll in either EUSP or MEAP are eligible to enroll in the Utility Service Protection Program. USPP provides a means for limited-income customers who qualify and comply with the payment terms of the USPP agreement to protect their utility service. Call 800.352.1446 for information about the USPP, or visit the Maryland Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) website.
BGE Smart Energy Savers Program – BGE offers a host of empowering choices to help customers conserve energy, save money and protect the environment.
Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) - If you qualify for MEAP, you may also be eligible to receive weatherization services through the Weatherization Assistance Program. Ask about weatherization when you apply for your energy assistance grant or contact your local weatherization office, at 800-638-7781, or visit them online: Maryland Weatherization Assistance Program.
Fuel Fund of Maryland - BGE works with the Fuel Fund to make bill assistance available to eligible households. BGE provides customer-funded matching credits for customers who apply for and receive help from the Fuel Fund. For more information, including where to apply, call the Fuel Fund at 410.821.3022, or visit them online: Fuel Fund of Maryland.
2-1-1 Maryland – 2-1-1 Maryland provides a link to community health and human service resources statewide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in over 150 languages. Dial 2-1-1 to find assistance when you or someone you know needs help, from child care, jobs, health care, and insurance — to emergency services to help you in times of disaster or crisis.
About the Office of Home Energy Programs
The Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) provides subsidies to assist limited-income residents with heating and cooling bills. OHEP's goal is to make energy costs more affordable and thus minimize heating crises. OHEP administers The Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) and the Electric Universal Service Program (EUSP).
BGE, headquartered in Baltimore, is Maryland’s largest natural gas and electric utility, delivering power to more than 1.25 million electric customers and more than 650,000 natural gas customers in central Maryland. The company’s approximately 3,200 employees are committed to the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas and electricity, as well as enhanced energy management, conservation, environmental stewardship and community assistance. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
We all know the rise in our home energy and water rates we are told consumers need to pay for infrastructure upgrades even though decades of bill-paying long did this. When we see one set of rate increases telling us this will only add a $2-10 a month increase its PROGRESSIVE POSING ---Wall Street global pols and their Maryland Public Services commission are lying. Think of the tiering above and then think about the SMART METER for home energy geared to control what, when, how, and why we use our home energy. There is a built in bias to what PEAK-TIME use means-----the regular 9-5 workers driving that peak-time. Wait just a minute-----global corporate campuses are going 24/7 with all kinds of short-shift long shift long days short days------we are seeing a movement away from 9-5.
THAT WAS OLD-SCHOOL FDR 8 HOUR DAYS 5 DAYS A WEEK STUFF!
As this article states---it WILL be impossible for consumers to control their bills. Do we think when to have toast or do laundry or wash dishes do we think best to take that hot bath in the middle of the afternoon? What has come out of our electrical sockets for over a century at a flat rate is going to be made into a COMCAST CHOICE OF CABLE CHANNELS.
AND YES, PUGH LIKE RAWLINGS-BLAKE WOULD NOT BLINK---SHE LIKE THE OTHER WALL STREET BALTIMORE DEVELOPMENT CANDIDATES WILL DO ANYTHING.
'But the coalition opposing the changes says in its letter that demand charges—Illinois would be the first state to adopt them if ComEd is successful—would confuse customers and lead to higher electricity rates for many who can't afford it.
“Turning on your dryer, toaster or microwave at the wrong time will significantly increase your bill,” the letter stated. “Demand charges are hard to understand and hard to control. They will make it impossible for consumers to control their electricity bills.”'
EXELON IS CHICAGO AND IS CLINTON BUSH OBAMA-----AND THIS ARTICLE IS ABOUT WHAT CITIZENS IN ILLINOIS ARE ALREADY FACING. This will be devastating for our low-income who have the most complex of schedules or if not working will be rationed in home energy use. The subsidies will not give families what they are used to.
October 12, 2016
Run your dishwasher at the wrong time, watch your electric bill soar?
By Steve Daniels
Six South and West Side aldermen, along with Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, are pressing state lawmakers to reject a Commonwealth Edison proposal to radically overhaul how electricity rates are set, saying the changes would hurt low-income residents struggling to pay their bills.
A letter delivered earlier this week to House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and the Republican leaders of both chambers takes aim at ComEd's push to charge residents not for how much electricity they use in a given month, but for how much they consume at the highest-demand times of day.
ComEd says these “demand charges” will give households a better incentive to use power efficiently. The current system, in place for a century, is designed for a time when the utility wanted customers to consume more, ComEd says.
But the coalition opposing the changes says in its letter that demand charges—Illinois would be the first state to adopt them if ComEd is successful—would confuse customers and lead to higher electricity rates for many who can't afford it.
“Turning on your dryer, toaster or microwave at the wrong time will significantly increase your bill,” the letter stated. “Demand charges are hard to understand and hard to control. They will make it impossible for consumers to control their electricity bills.”
Among the letter signers: Aldermen Proco Joe Moreno, 1st; Howard Brookins, 21st; Ricardo Munoz, 22nd; Michael Scott Jr., 24th; Jason Ervin, 28th; and Emma Mitts, 37th. Garcia also signed. Nonprofits on the letter include the West Side NAACP, AARP Illinois and the Illinois Public Interest Research Group.
POTENTIAL POLITICAL PROBLEM
Opposition from minority members of the City Council is a potential problem for ComEd, which traditionally relies heavily on Black Caucus support when it asks for help from Springfield—a not-infrequent occurrence.
ComEd and parent Exelon are hoping for passage next month of wide-ranging energy legislation that would include ComEd's new delivery-rate system, as well as subsidies for two Exelon-owned nuclear plants that it otherwise will close, and a host of environmental provisions.
That measure has been the subject of behind-the-scenes talks between the power industry, consumer groups, environmental groups and renewable-energy developers. A compromise bill hasn't yet surfaced.
“The burden will be even greater if you live paycheck to paycheck or on a fixed income,” the letter said. “A single hour's careless electricity use can cause an unexpected bill spike that puts energy or other essential expenditures out of reach.”
In an interview, ComEd Senior Vice President Val Jensen said the utility is negotiating with consumer groups and others on changes that should prevent many consumers from seeing unanticipated monthly spikes in their electric bills. As proposed, the measure would set delivery charges based on a household's usage during the highest-demand day of the previous month. ComEd has agreed to set rates based on a household's average usage during the highest-demand hours of business days over the previous month, he said.
The new system should result in lower rates for nearly 80 percent of low-income customers in ComEd's territory, even if they do nothing at all, Jensen said. That, of course, leaves more than 20 percent who would see higher rates—not a small percentage.
OH, REALLY?????? DOES THE POOR REALLY BELIEVE THAT???
WINNERS AND LOSERS
And therein lies the political problem. Such a dramatic change by definition creates winners and losers, and lawmakers (along with the utility) will be the ones whom the losers blame for their higher bills.
Chicagoans in particular already are experiencing substantially higher property taxes and will see higher water charges due to the need to shore up woefully underfunded government pension plans.
“This is especially coming at a very volatile and sensitive time for consumers,” Garcia said in an interview.
He wondered why ComEd didn't propose this first to the Illinois Commerce Commission, which regulates utilities. The ICC typically would approve a pilot program before plunging into something so significant. That's what the agency did when ComEd wanted to install smart meters throughout its service territory. The Legislature eventually endorsed the more audacious plan and the annual rate hikes that made it possible.
“Rolling something like this out . . . is a pretty drastic measure to undertake without first at least piloting the concept,” said Garcia, who's become a high-profile representative of progressive interests since his unsuccessful but highly competitive run against incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel last spring.
ComEd's Jensen agreed this is a significant change and the present system is working OK for now. “This isn't an emergency, I will admit,” he said.
But he responded that electricity rate regulation hasn't changed fundamentally in a century. “Typically, things that are over 100 years old we declare historical landmarks or we decide there's a better way to do things,” he said.
ComEd won't make more money from this change, he said. It just will allocate the costs of upgrading and maintaining the local power grid more fairly.
The costs of maintaining the system are mainly due to ensuring ComEd can meet peak demand. So it's only fair that people pay based on how much they're taxing the system during those high-demand times.
In addition, under the current structure, consumers who can't afford or don't want to install solar panels on their roofs will have to pay higher rates to make up for those who do, as solar power takes greater hold in the area, Jensen said.
HOW CONSUMERS CAN COPE
So how can consumers keep their bills low if their rates aren't set based on how much juice they consume in a month?
They must take greater care to use fewer appliances and devices that run on electricity when the weather is really hot or really cold during the day, he said. For example, it would be wise not to wash clothes or run dishwashers or leave lights on while air conditioners are running in the middle of the day.
Or “the solution might be, maybe don't crank the AC quite as high,” Jensen said.
He emphasized that ComEd's legislation makes $1 billion available for programs that benefit low-income households, including $50 million in direct assistance to consumers struggling to pay their bills.
From ComEd's perspective, Jensen said, the change will result in cheaper bills for more than half of its residential customers. And the other 40 percent can change their behavior to reduce their costs.
“We need to do a much better job of communicating the message,” he said.
Demand Charge Letter 10.11.16
'It means electricity and gas used in the evenings could cost 99 per cent more than at other times — penalising everyone cooking family meals, watching popular TV shows and heating their homes on chilly winter evenings'.
The great smart meter rip-off: Energy giants will use devices to DOUBLE the cost of power when you need it most
- Digital smart meters rolled out as an energy-saving measure
- Meters send instant information back to energy suppliers on usage
- Energy giant British Gas is trialling charging more at peak times
- Watchdog Ofgem warned in report suppliers would develop new tariffs
Published: 18:52 EST, 17 November 2015 | Updated: 08:06 EST, 18 November 2015
Energy giants are set to use digital smart meters as a way to double the cost of power when families need it most — adding nearly £60 a year to the average bill.
A Money Mail investigation has discovered Britain’s leading power firms are expected to introduce tariffs that charge more at peak times when they roll out new electronic meters which monitor how much energy you use by the second.
It means electricity and gas used in the evenings could cost 99 per cent more than at other times — penalising everyone cooking family meals, watching popular TV shows and heating their homes on chilly winter evenings.
A Money Mail investigation has discovered Britain’s leading power firms are expected to introduce tariffs that charge more at peak times when they roll out new electronic smart meters
Higher charges will also apply in the morning when people are most likely to be taking baths and showers and having the central heating on.
Money Mail has discovered that British Gas has already trialled a tariff that charges more at peak times.
And we have uncovered evidence that smart-meter schemes unveiled in other countries have proved a disaster, with complaints about soaring costs and an outcry over invasion of privacy.
Experts have raised fears about complicated payments which could be difficult to understand.
Mark Todd, marketing director at price comparison site Energyhelpline, says: ‘My fear is that government could be complicit in a scheme that enables suppliers to try to reduce demand at peak times by upping costs.
‘What are you going to do — let your children starve? How are you going to wait until 8pm to feed them when they’re meant to be in bed by that time?
‘I’ve heard government officials say this could be a way in which we could use energy more efficiently by charging more at peak times. I think that’s rather naive.’
More than 1.3 million smart meters have already been installed in British households ahead of a national rollout next year, which aims to put them in every home by 2020.
The smart-meter scheme will cost £11 billion to introduce — which homeowners will pay for through their bills.
Officials claim it will lead to £17.9 billion of benefits as people will be more aware of how much energy they use and more likely to take steps to reduce consumption.
A survey by comparison website uSwitch found that nearly three-quarters of respondents said they would be happy to have one installed, although 25 per cent admitted they didn’t even know what they did.
However, a document produced by regulator Ofgem has warned that firms will develop new retail tariffs based on costs ‘at different times of day’.
The aim, it said, was to encourage customers to reduce their use at busy times.
During British Gas’s trial with peak-time tariffs — carried out with Northern Powergrid and the University of Durham — the supplier hiked electricity prices by 99 per cent at the peak time of between 4pm and 8pm, when a quarter of daily use takes place as people get home from work, turn on the TV and sit down for dinner.
Fees were cut at other times of the day, but analysis for Money Mail suggests that families would still be left out of pocket.
The average British household uses 3,100 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year, according to energy regulator Ofgem.
Smart-meter schemes unveiled in other countries have proved a disaster, with complaints about soaring costs and an outcry over invasion of privacy
British Gas’s standard tariff is 15.35p per kWh, meaning an average bill is £475.85. The test project trialled a time-of-day tariff with new charges depending on when energy was used, based on data collected by smart meters.
It charged 99 per cent more than the standard rate at peak times, 4 per cent less during the rest of the day and 31 per cent less at night. If that scheme was rolled out nationwide today, the average customer would save £59.17 per year at off-peak hours.
But peak-time use would cost £117.77 more — meaning anyone using a time-of-day tariff instead of a standard one would be £58.60 worse off.
British Gas said the study was not carried out with the intention of a wider launch, but to look at the impact it had on consumer behaviour.
It said it had also run a separate trial offering 4,000 people free electricity on Saturdays or Sundays between 9am and 5pm.
Money Mail first revealed this scheme in March 2014. British Gas says this pilot scheme was more indicative of the approach it would take after smart meters are introduced — encouraging families to use more power at weekends.
It also claimed our analysis was unrepresentative and used incorrect price and consumption data.
Smart meters have already been rolled out elsewhere in the world.
In Canada, Ontario’s Office Of The Auditor General last year found that many anticipated benefits of a smart-meter scheme launched in 2004 had not been achieved and it had been ‘much more costly than projected’ to run.
The devices were also rolled out in the Australian state of Victoria from 2006, with the aim of saving £36.7 million.
But the move was condemned by privacy campaigners, who warned that big energy companies would know every detail of their home lives, while costs spiralled out of control.
Feel the chill:
The £11billion roll-out of gas and electricity smart meters by 2020 is designed to cut energy bills for 30million households and small businesses – and encourage regular switching
The price of the scheme rocketed to 88 per cent above budget last year and, in a damning report, Victoria’s auditor-general John Doyle found that consumers were paying more, promised benefits were yet to appear and ‘most of the cost savings achieved by distributors from smart meters are yet to flow through to retailers and on to customers’.
Even British Gas acknowledged in a statement to a government committee that the Australian project had ‘prefaced significant price increases for energy’.
The influential Institute Of Directors business group has warned that costs for the scheme could balloon, saying that it was the largest government IT project in history and the risks were ‘staggering’.
The Department Of Energy & Climate Change stressed that there were no plans to force families to switch from a standard tariff to a time-of-day one.
A spokesman said: ‘Smart meters will put hard-working families and businesses in control by bringing an end to estimated bills and charging people only for the energy they actually use.’
ISN'T THAT WHAT WE ALREADY DO?
Claire Maugham, director of policy and communications at Smart Energy GB, an independent national campaign for the meters, said: ‘The experiences of many other countries around the world shows us that public engagement and understanding is vital if consumers are to benefit fully from smart meters.
‘Britain’s rollout was designed with consumers at its heart; our new meters will show us what we’re spending, in pounds and pence and in near real-time, engaging consumers in the energy market where they have been disengaged in the past.
‘Time-of-use tariffs will mean the option to use energy at a time when it is cheaper.’
This article is great but too long to post entirely so please google to see all of the citizen concerns. They are centered on how uncontrollable these peak rate scales are and its filled with bad meter reading and inflated bills just as global VEOLA ENVIRONMENT has done with Baltimore's water bills. When a candidate like PUGH says she knows the energy industry she simply means she knows WHO SHOWS HER THE MONEY. She only knows Exelon was an Obama campaign contributor and indeed hers-----she knows global Johns Hopkins has endowment connections. She knows a ONE WORLD energy grid completely captures the nation and our sovereignty but hey, what's a little totalitarianism among friends.
California and Texas were the earliest to be subjected to these policies and you can bet many new citizens to Maryland are trying to escape that---and here it comes to Maryland.
Forgive the large type and length of the article below--please glance through to last article!
Smart Meter Consumers Anger Grows Over Higher Utility Bills
BWP Smart Meter "Opt-Out" May 20th deadline: Did you get a notice or postcard about Burbank's Smart Meter "opt out" program and "deadline." Read our "Burbank Smart Meter Opt-Out" page on our companion blogsite for more info: http://burbankaction.wordpress.com/burbank-opt-out/
Feb. 1, 2012 -- While the UK announces it will now make its smart meter program voluntary -- the CPUC approves Decision for PG&E's smart meter options -- allowing PG&E customers to have analogs as the ONLY option -- but at a COST! Residents who want to opt out --- have to pay a fee to opt of a program that's already costing them and that they never agreed to opt into. Does that make any logical sense? Does that sound legal? Smart Meter opponents still want NO COST ANALOGS -- no fees, charges, or higher rates (i.e, extortion) to protect health, safety, security and privacy. Read EMF SAFETY NETWORK stories, http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=7157, and http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=7040.
Also STOP SMART METERS story, http://stopsmartmeters.org/2012/02/02/pay-for-your-health-pay-for-your-rights-we-say-no/,
Also EON3BLOG story,
and BURBANK ACTION blog story, http://burbankaction.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/uk-affirms-voluntary-smart-meters-while-cpuc-requires-fees-to-opt-out/
Go to our Smart Meter Home page to read more on what communities are doing, and what you can do to oppose smart meters in your area: https://sites.google.com/site/nocelltowerinourneighborhood/home/wireless-smart-meter-concerns
5. Smart Meter Consumers Anger Grows
Over Higher Utility Bills
And Problems with Accuracy
and Unacceptable Customer Response Standards & Practices
Why are consumers reporting dramatically higher utility bills after smart meters are installed?
Higher than normal utility bills and overbilling due “inaccurate” smart meters have lead to lawsuits, including two class-action lawsuits in Bakersfield, CA, and Texas.
As you read the news reports and complaints below, you'll be alarmed to learn that even though consumers are shifting their energy use, reducing energy consumption and making their homes more energy efficient, their utility bills have suddenly doubled or tripled. You'll be saddened to hear the tragic stories of families who can't meet these new higher bills and must choose between either feeding their kids or paying the utility bills, or are resorting to ice-age living, turning off the heat and resorting to candles. You'll also be angry to learn how the current billing, customer service and field accuracy testing standards and practices are inadequate and failing consumers. They are grossly unacceptable, and affecting consumers' quality of life. Our families and seniors are already stressed and burdened trying to survive and manage in today's hard-pressed economic times.
This recent New York Times articles includes a consumer story about an average fixed-income family that has reported extremely higher bills after the wireless smart meter was installed, and their complaint story echoes those being reported by consumers around the world reporting billing and accuracy problems from their smart meters.
Sgt. John Robertson 2nd, an Army mechanic at nearby Fort Hood, is fuming about the so-called smart electric meter his local utility has installed on the side of his tidy, 1,800-square-foot home. Like thousands of consumers with the new meters around the country, Sergeant Robertson suspects the device is not as smart as advertised.
In his case, he says it is inaccurately measuring his family’s power use and driving up his bills — some months by as much as 50 percent, to as high as $320 — since it was installed in December. This, he said, is despite his efforts to cut back on energy use.
“I’ve done two tours in Iraq, and when I come home I’m getting ripped off by my electric meter,” said Sergeant Robertson, who with his wife, Kim, is raising four children on a tight budget.
...In Maryland earlier this year, state regulators, aware of the discontent around the country, temporarily blocked a utility’s smart-meter proposal, citing inadequate planning and the potential cost to consumers.
In California, Michael Kelly, a lawyer handling a class-action suit against the state’s dominant utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, over billing disputes, said the problems probably had less to do with faulty devices and more to do with a hasty rollout. Old billing systems were merged with the new smart-meter technology, he said, too frequently resulting in erroneous charges.
“We’re just saying we want an evaluation done and that we want anyone who was overcharged to get their money back,” Mr. Kelly said.
...On Wednesday, with Mr. Berent as their lawyer, the Robertsons filed a civil court petition seeking information on faulty devices in their service area. The filing is a precursor to a suit against the device’s manufacturer, Landis+Gyr.
A Landis+Gyr spokesman said the company would not comment on a matter related to litigation.
Chris Schein, a spokesman for Oncor, the company that installed the Robertsons’ smart meter, said a prolonged and unusual cold snap last winter, when the new meters were being introduced, had caused residents to use more power than normal. That, Mr. Schein said, contributed to what some consumers might have perceived as problems with the new meters.
...The Robertsons are not satisfied by the official explanations.
They noted that their old meter measured 829 kilowatt-hours of electricity use in for their August-September billing cycle last year. For the comparable period this year, they say, the smart meter counted a more than threefold increase, to 2,772 kilowatt-hours — despite the Robertson’s efforts to reduce their energy use by cutting back on air-conditioning and switching to energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs.
“If they would tell me something that made sense, I’d be fine with it,” Mrs. Robertson said. “But I haven’t heard anything from anyone that makes any sense.”
Source: New York Times: “‘Smart’ Meters Draw Complaints of Inaccuracy,” November 12, 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/13/business/13meter.html
California: Early Consumer Complaints, Lawsuit,
and Accuracy Test
Smart Meters Causing Higher Utility Bills
In California, wireless smart meters have spurred consumer complaints reporting excessively higher bills:
Kelly Shaughnessy had never paid more than $230 for electricity at her Bakersfield home last year. Then she got a SmartMeter.
Designed to track electricity and gas use with precision, SmartMeters relay their data to the utility via wireless, without the need of a meter reader.
After Pacific Gas and Electric Co. installed one of the devices at her house this past spring, Shaughnessy's monthly bills started to climb. In August, her bill hit $458. Throttling back the air conditioning didn't help.
"I kept the AC at 85 degrees, to the point I had sweat running down my nose while I was inside my house," said Shaughnessy, 44, who teaches junior high school. "Bottom line is, my bills went through the roof."
Source: San Francisco Chronicle: “Customers say new PG&E meters not always smart,” October 18, 2009: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/10/18/BUJI1A658S.DTL&feed=rss.new
In California, reporters and columnists began reporting consumers complaints about billing and accuracy problems as early as 2008, despite their efforts to reduce energy usage and make their house more energy efficient.
posted by thetruthhurts on Mar 26, 2008 at 03:27 PM
My house has had 2 bills over $600 in the roughly 8 months since they installed the new meter, we are extremely happy if our bill is in the neighborhood of $200-$300. We live in a 1400 sf. house in the Oleander area. It has been completely redone with new AC, new windows, new insulation, new roof, and new gas powered heater. This was all done before the new meter, and we don't have a bunch of electronics running up the bill. We also don't use the air conditioner or heater very much, 69 in the winter and 83 in the summer. The new meters are a complete scam, how can my house have bills as high as we do when my boss has a house off Stockdale Hwy. that is over 3500 sf. and his bill is constantly half of ours...it doesn't make any sense. We have been in contact with PG&E (a complete joke), they sent out a technician out to see if our new meter was not reading properly. The technician didn't ever know what he was doing, he had to restart his test at least 5 times and at the end said it seems to be working fine. After he said that he also informed us that he was new to these meters and there is nothing that can be done. I am completely frustrated...what is the consumer to do? Not pay your bill and live without gas and electricity?
posted by ImJustSayin on Mar 26, 2008 at 03:59 PM
I live in the Stockdale Area in a 2400 sf home. I also have an office that runs during the day behind my home. We use heat when we need heat, and air when we need air. We also have a pool. It is not unusal for me to do laundry during the day. I have always had a PG&E bill that runs about $400.00 per month. During the summer, the hottest time of the year my bill has gotten up to $800.00. In walks the smart meter. My bill has been consistantly between $800.00 and $900.00 every month. What is going to happen this summer?
I'm just sayin......we've all been taken.....I'm just sayin
posted by mgian1218 on Aug 31, 2009 at 07:49 AM
Just another smart meter horror story to add to the list: In the 1st month after installation of PG&E's new Smart Meter, my bill soared to 10 times it's normal amount. I disputed, but they are holding firm - and before the matter has even been resolved, I received the following month bill - which takes my bill to 14 times it's normal amount. I had to argue for 2 weeks before I could even get someone to schedule an appointment to look at my meter. Not that I trust PG&E to do the inspection, but what choice do I have at the moment. I am going to check in to the options listed in "No Holds Barred". Great information. Thanks!
posted by RoundMan on Sep 1, 2009 at 01:22 PM
This NEW METER method shows them that you're using power at what they call peak periods between 2pm and 7pm and they raise (double and triple?) the price for these prime times, all under the excuse of "conservation" and the need to teach you to use your appliances at different hours (which won't help you at all if you work). Those hours are the busiest (cooking dinner and relaxing after work) and the hottest part of the day. Here in Bakersfield those temperatures are around 104 deg. to 117 deg. during the summer months. How can families shut down during those times and wait tell 7pm to cook and eat and do chores? PG$E claims to have had brownouts and blackouts because we use so much power during these “peak” times so it's necessary to force you to pay more to learn new behavior.. Really? I would ask why PG$G doesn’t upgrade their systems to accommodate the rising population instead of feeding us their tripe about “environmental issues”? ...This is just a way to make more money by simply changing me from a flat rate to a METERED RATE SYSTEM. This is just wrong and will hurt many people.
posted by KillAWatt on Mar 4, 2010 at 12:29 AM
I too have felt the sting of the PG&E $mart Meter (which SHOULD be spelled with a dollar sign). We actually moved out of our house before last summer to upgrade EVERYTHING to make it more energy efficient. We installed double paned windows, insulation, energy efficient kitchen appliances, brand new furnace with programmable thermostat set at 64, and even had our ducts cleaned. Things were going great with our usual small increase in bill and usage as it got a little colder.
When our bill DOUBLED from under $200 to over $400 between Nov and Dec, I was shocked! I'd never seen bills that high even back when we had NO insulation etc... I attributed it to more usage during the holidays and figured it would go back to normal in Jan when we went back to work and the house would be sitting quiet all day as usual. But in Jan, our bill continued to escalate even higher - even though we weren't home except in the evenings! I thought "Maybe someone's stealing energy from our wires!" so I walked around to check the meter and discovered our digital little friend had been installed. I contacted PG&E and they said that it had been installed in the last week of Nov (exactly marking the starting point of our drastic increase in alleged usage!) They claim there's nothing wrong with the $mart meter (OF COURSE NOT! There'd only be something wrong with it if it were UNDER charging people).
So I thought it was higher because of something related to peak hours. I struggled to find what the peak hours were from the PG&E website (if they made that info too easy to find, people might actually save money!). So I contacted PG&E again only to learn that we were not being charged peak hours, but still being charged a flat rate, but that our increase in energy usage had put us into a higher Tier level where we're getting charged a higher $ rate per kWh and Therm.
I complained to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) only to learn from PG&E that the CPUC was the ones who mandated that PG&E install these $mart Meters to upgrade the Grid. Apparently, a 3rd party is currently investigating the validity of the meters, which I'm sure will be found to be accurate. However, I don't believe that a 3rd party is investigating the billing practices of PG&E. You'd think some of these California politicians who themselves have to pay electric bills at their homes would notice and complain! Why don't they wake up and smell the gas!
Meanwhile, PG&E is making huge profits while its customers are confused and not sure why their bills are skyrocketing. Everyone I talk to with the new meters says their bills went up, but seem too lazy to do anything about it. Come summer with the air conditioners, I think everyone will really take notice.
I'm very concerned about our environment and want to do my part to conserve energy and save on my bill as well, but no matter what I do to keep usage down, it doesn't seem to be reflected in my bill. It's like I'm pressing the brakes and the car is only speeding up faster! It doesn't make sense. Are we to just accept when they say "There's nothing wrong with the $mart meter"? Maybe we should all call and tell them we think something's wrong because we think we used MORE energy than the meter says and we're getting undercharged. I bet they'd be right out to check out the meter.
SOURCE: for the above customer complaints, read "PG&E smart meter follow up" from the "No Holds Barred" blog by columnist Lois Henry, on-line at: http://people.bakersfield.com/home/Blog/noholdsbarred/23789
In Bakersfield, a class-action lawsuit was filed:
Pete Flores, of Bakersfield, claims in the suit filed last week in Kern County Superior Court that ever since PG&E installed a smart meter at his home, he's been charged for more electricity than he has used. Right now Flores – who says his average bill as jumped from about $200 a month to about $500 to $600 a month since he got a smart meter – is the only named plaintiff.
But his attorney, Michael Louis Kelly of the El Segundo, Calif.-based law firm Kirtland & Packard, is seeking class action status for the lawsuit to include every PG&E customer who has a smart meter and thinks they've been overcharged, saying the utility needs to prove that those two-way communicating meters aren't the cause
Source: Green Tech Media: “PG&E Sued Over Smart Meters, Slows Down Bakersfield Deployment,” November 11, 2009: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/pge-sued-over-smart-meters-slows-down-bakersfield-deployment/
Meanwhile, further south, SDG&E began swapping out 33,000 problem-causing smart meters that were installed in 2009 and 2008 with newer models:
Escondido meters failed and will be replaced in May
On May 21st, 2010 michael says:
For those SDG&E customers in Escondido, it is likely your smart meters will be replaced. SDG&E reported today that it has identified a potential issue for certain meters in its first generation meter deployment that were installed last year in Escondido. These meters contained an earlier version of software. Over the past week, during a remote, wireless upgrade of the meters, about 4,100 of them developed problems, with approximately 30 of those triggering a remote disconnect switch causing a power outage. In some cases, the meters simply stopped recording usage data altogether. SDG&E believes the problem was isolated to about 4,100 meters; however it will be replacing all 30,000 starting tomorrow with the first priority being the 4,100. It will complete replacement of the 4,100 in the next two days and then will be replacing the other meters in the upcoming weeks.
A similar version of problem meters also was installed in Tierrasanta during its 2008 pilot. It will also replace approximately 3,000 Tierrasanta meters ahead of schedule over the next few weeks.
SDG&E currently has approximately 900,000 smart meters installed in its territory (of 2.3 million total) both electric and gas. This planned smart meter replacement in Escondido and Tierrasanta affects only the electric meters.
Customers affected will only be billed for the energy use recorded by the meter. So for those customers whose meters are replaced, their bills may be lower than they would have otherwise been. Customers with questions should call SDG&E at 800-411-7343.
Source: Utilility Consumer's Action Network (UCAN) on-line forum, http://www.ucan.org/forum/forums/energy/sdg_e_disputes/billing_dispute#comment-24974
In this TV consumer news report, a group of college students were trying to figure out why their wireless smart meter was reporting such high energy usage and gave them such a high bill of $400.
"When we were gone for the week, we turned off all the circuit breakers, and so we were expecting to see a pretty low baseline in energy usage for that week," Izumi Hinkson recalled.
They created a chart using information supplied by PG&E. It shows spikes in energy usage when no one was home even with the circuit breaker turned off.
The co-eds took their complaints to PG&E and their landlady. PG&E told them they were using more energy than they thought.
"When we would communicate with PG&E, they had no real reason to explain why it was so high," said Parisi-Amon.
So the students used a TED 5000 unit to compare actual usage against their wireless smart meter and found that the smart meter was wrong. PG&E, which at first denied the wireless smart meter was the source of the problem, finally sent out installers to check on the meter.The comparison seemed to confirm their suspicions. A blue line on their chart represents the energy readings from the TED for the last six weeks. A red line represents the energy readings covering the same time period, but measured by the SmartMeter. Those energy readings are nearly 2.5 times greater than those measured by the TED.
"It doesn't necessarily prove either of these methods is correct, but it does raise the question about whether or not the SmartMeter readings are accurate and valid," Hinkson said.
7 On Your Side contacted PG&E and it sent out three technicians to investigate. They blamed the problem on an installation error. It seems the students' meter got mixed up with their neighbors. PG&E says the students were paying their neighbors bill and vice versa.
PG&E issued a refund of $1,600 to the students.
"PG&E has so far admitted that 23,000 SmartMeters have been installed incorrectly."
Watch and read the report, KGO-TV ABC, San Francisco, 7 On Your Side: "Experiment raises questions about SmartMeters," May 7, 2010, http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/7_on_your_side&id=7424533
A local CBS TV news report put that figure higher: PG&E, in May 2010, admitted errors in more than 50,000 meters.
The utility company says there were installation errors in about 23,000 units, another 11,000 had data storage problems, and 17,000 had communication issues. Many customers were either over or under billed.
Source: CBS 47.com, “PG&E Admits Problems with Smart Meters,” May 11, 2010: http://www.cbs47.tv/news/local/story/PG-E-Admits-Problems-with-Smart-Meters/IA-XqsKuREWCBulgRzd5pw.cspx?rss=153
The Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN), a consumer group for utility ratepayers, has a forum for members to file complaints about their smart meters and excessive billing. They have a long list of nightmare and horror stories, including bills that are three times higher than usual, terrible customer service and response, consumers who can't afford these higher bills, other cutting back on usage but not seeing lower bills, and a grandma saying she's not using the heater so her grandbabies are cold. Here are just a few from February 2010 through mid-September 2010, just before the California Public Utilities Commission issued the results from its "independent" report studying the accuracy of the meters, which concluded that they're accurate:
my bill tripled
On September 22nd, 2010 Anonymous (not verified) says:
we had a smart meter installed on 8/5, just recieved the bill for the billing cycle of 8/12 thru 9/10. my bill is over $800!! triple than the month before! i called pg&e and they told me first that it was due to the weather. I informed the lady that the weather was much cooler this summer, and she went thru all the dates and temps with me and which dates we had spikes in energy. I than asked the lady to look at the weather for the same billing cycle last summer, and on average each day last summer was over 10 dagrees hotter!! I asked her how my bill could be this much higher than last years bill and she didn't really have an awnser. I asked about having someone come out and check the meter and check our usage, and she told me pg&e hasn't done that service in years. I would be happy to send in bills for help, where do i send them and how do i get help with this? there is no way we can afford 800! I want to join in any suit or fight against this outrage
PG&E Usage Increase
On September 13th, 2010 dmc (not verified) says:
How is it possible that my PG&E electric usage went up 600% from last year for the month of August? Thanks to those of you who have written in. I plan to follow some of the same proceedures you did. This situation is just wrong!
want to avoid smart meter installation
On August 27th, 2010 Anonymous (not verified) says:
I am worried about smart meter rate increases. How do I opt out of this meter installation.
Opt out of Smart meters
On September 2nd, 2010 ucansue (UCAN consumer group staff member):
Yes, SDG&E is getting an increase for the smart meter installation, although it will turn into a rate credit in a few years as the savings from the installation materialize. SDG&E customers don't have a legal option to decline the smart meters. Customers don't own the meters and thus have no control over what kind of meter will be used. The only legal option you have is to disconnect from SDG&E and produce your own power.
My Bill is 3X higher since the smart meter was installed
On May 25th, 2010 Anonymous (not verified) says:
I'm so glad to find this page. I have called and complained about this issue several times and get NOWHERE with SDG&E. We had a smart meter installed and instantly our bill went from approx $150.00 per month to $400.00 per month. We were even cutting back on usage and still recieving astronomical bills. We have a small place and don't have A/C. It doesn't make sense! I asked SDG&E to come out and investigate and they refused. Instead they sent pamphlets on how to conserve energy. We wash in cold water, don't use A/C or heaters. There was a segment on KUSI Turko Files last weekend but, they didn't come to any resolve.
On May 27th, 2010 JQ (not verified) says:
My Smart meter was installed for just two weeks on my last bill and my billing tripled that month. They are telling me that the prior meter was just slow or my consumption is up. My consumption is down and I was even out of town for a week of that billing. If this rings true for next month my average bill will go from $65 a month to $350 a month for a 800 square foot apartment where we are gone all day and most of the time on the weekends. It just seems like these smart meters were put on place to gouge us on the billing. SDG&E keeps telling me these are the most accurate meters possible. No way is my average billing for 3 years going to triple and cost more than a car payment. We can't afford it!
Re: Smart Meter
On June 1st, 2010 ucan josh says:
If you are an SDG&E customer, fill out our complaint form and sign up for our Meter Watch project. Data like yours will help us keep SDG&E accountable.
SDG&E outrageous bills
On March 21st, 2010 Anonymous (not verified) says:
I have lived in my home for over 25 years. I have a propane stove, heater and water heater. I have never EVER had a bill over $250 and that is with a jacuzzi on during winter months! Since the new "smart meter" has been installed my bills have been almost $600 a month! I cannot afford to keep doing this! I do not even use the heater and my grandbabies are COLD! This is ridiculous! Someone please tell me what I can do???!!!
Usage Spike Since Smart meter installed
On April 5th, 2010 Dana Troutman (not verified) says:
We recently had our smart meter installed and the very first bill was 2.5x time our normal bill and usage, our second bill is now 3x higher. Granted there can be some variables but this is ridiculous it was the highest electric bill I have received since moving into my house almost 12 yrs ago. That when we had turned off our gas heating and had reduced our usage. Our neighbors had there's installed a month before us and there usage jumped almost 2x also.
What is our recourse. SDG&E just said these are newer meters and more accurate than the old ones. I find that line hard to believe since I doubt they would go several years with inaccurate meters install cutting their profits in half or to a thirds of what it should be.
Please let me know who I can go to for some recourse?
Are there any class actions in process?
New Meter and outrageous bill
On February 27th, 2010 Ramona (not verified) says:
My bill for December and January was $66 and $72 and that is what it runs normally throughout the year with the exception of the summer months when we are running the airconditioner and then it is $150 tto $250. A new smart meter was install on presidents day February 12 and the bill I got on Wednesday was $499.18, today 2/27/2010 I got another bill and it is is $542.18. It says the meter was read 2/11/2010 and again 2/17/2010. I called and was told that this is for electric service that was not properly billed from past months. I just do not understand how this is possible. Anyone have any ideas?
smart meter error
On February 26th, 2010 jlo (not verified) says:
I want to thank those of you who posted suggestions regarding these new "smart" meters. I too have had increased usage amounts, I'd say around 15%. I have been keeping a log of all our electric usage. I also purchased a P3 "kill-watt meter." It works great. I can see the discrepancy in readings right away. I am now going to turn breakers off and try and isolate the main appliance, my refrigerator, and compare the readings exactly...this should prove it beyond any doubt.
You can also do this statistically by looking at your historical data that is provided by SDGE. Compare your previous usage to what it is now with the new meter (you will need a few months of data to compare them).
I have contacted SDGE regarding this and they will be contacting me (they won't do an enegy audit, but they should review their meter errors).
Someone asked about a class action lawsuit. I am not going to wait. If I am not satisfied with their response I will sue them in small claims. The data should be evidence enough, however the court may require some "professional" witness as to the discrepancies. We shall see.
Does anyone know if these smart meters can be controlled remotely? I'm wondering if they can adjust the meter remotely without having to make a home visit.
I hate the Smart Meter
On February 18th, 2010 Yvette (not verified) says:
I just got my bill after the "Smart Meter" was installed. My bill was +550% for electricity. My average bill was $80 before the meter and this new bill was $320. When I called SDG&E they gave me the run around and defended their new system sating it must have been something I did. I feel like they are theives right now and I am forced to either pay or go without. This is so wrong.
Source: For these consumer complaints above, and more, visit the Utility Consumers' Action Network on-line Forum for "SDG&E billing disputes or complaints about SDG&E smart meters," found on-line at: http://www.ucan.org/forum/forums/energy/sdg_e_disputes/billing_dispute
With mounting complaints, State Senator Dean Florez and consumers called for an investigation, and the CPUC contracted the Structure Group for $1.4 million to “independently” evaluate the accuracy of wireless smart meters. Structure's report was issued on September 2, 2010, and found the smart meters performing accurately. However, as consumer advocates and new reporters point out, Structure has ties to PG&E and the utility and energy industry, and is a proponent of the Smart Grid, casting their report as “independent” evaluators into question.
- The PUC in California has now hired the Structure Group to conduct an independent investigation into SmartMeters. The PUC says side-by-side tests will be part of that investigation. The Utility Reform Network (TURN) is now calling for citizen oversight of that investigation.
Source: KGO-TV: “Texas utilities admit billing errors with SmartMeters,” April 14, 2010: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/7_on_your_side&id=7386817
- The consulting firm hired to investigate Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s SmartMeter system performed work for the utility as recently as last year, and at least two of the Houston-based firm's executives are former managers within PG&E's parent company.
Alex Lago, a principal at Structure who joined the firm in 2001, at one point worked in management at PG&E Energy Services, which until 2000 was a unit within the utility's parent company, PG&E Corp. Lago declined to comment Wednesday.
Debby Young, vice president of sales for Structure's gas practice, used to work as director of northeast trading at PG&E Energy Trading Corp., which Is a part of PG&E Corp. She, too, declined to comment Wednesday.
Source: Bakersfield.com: “Firm hired to study SmartMeters has had business ties to PG&E, March 31, 2010: http://www.bakersfield.com/news/local/x2143248587/Firm-hired-to-study-SmartMeters-has-had-business-ties-to-PG-E
- The smart meters aren’t completely cleared by Structure’s report. Structure notes that its investigation was limited in scope and was not “an exhaustive review of all Smart Meter system deployment documentations, configurations, and meter installations.”
Source: Smart Planet: “California smart meters work fine — it’s the utility that needs work,” September 3, 2010: http://www.smartplanet.com/technology/blog/thinking-tech/california-smart-meters-work-fine-but-the-utility-needs-work/5114/?tag=content;col1
- For the complete Structure Report, you can find it on-line on its website: http://www.thestructuregroup.com/structure-announces-findings-of-pge-smart-meter-assessment
- Here's CPUC's news report on the Structure Report: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/Demand+Response/solicit.htm
Texas: Similar Problems, Stories and Actions
A similar story unfolded in Texas. Consumer billing and accuracy complaints erupted following the installation of the wireless smart meters on homes:
Company officials say complaints are up 17 percent, and the utility recently held several public meetings in Killeen to calm angry customers.
Some Dallas residents who already have "smart" meters monitoring their power echo claims of higher electric bills. They believe the new meters are to blame, and they're fighting back.
...The utility says it has checked repeatedly and claims it found fewer than ten problem meters out of tens of thousands installed.
"By and large, both the old electro-mechanical and the new smart meters are highly accurate," said Oncor spokeswoman Catherine Cuellar. "It's not that peoples' meters causing their high bills; it's low temperatures that are causing the high bills."
...Still, folks like Michele Colbert are unconvinced. The bills at her father’s empty condo more than doubled after the digital meters were installed.
"The smart meters were installed and the bill went up... and there's no one living there!" she said. "I'm very frustrated and I'm very angry."
In an effort to ease customer concerns, Oncor brought employees to an Oak Cliff recreation center Sunday to discuss their bills.
Some of the electric users aren't convinced; they're ready to launch a campaign of sorts, going door-to-door to raise awareness and garner support — hoping that they can get enough residents with the same problem to convince Oncor that its "smart" meters aren't so smart.
Source: WFAA-TV Dallas/Ft Worth: "'Smart' meters under fire as electric bills soar," February 21, 2010: http://www.wfaa.com/news/consumer/meters-84921522.html
With more shared complaints, consumers begin to organize:
...for Lisa Smith and Jennifer Stanfield, electricity is a sore subject.
"Yeah, yeah a little bit," Smith chuckled.
What isn't funny is their December electric bill: more than $1,000.
"To pay for these bills, I'm cutting out any kind of social life I have," Stanfield said. "Not eating out; not going out and meeting friends after work."
Even with new energy efficient windows and a thermostat set at 56 degrees, their January bill still topped $800. High bills, the two said, didn't happen until Oncor replaced their mechanical meter with a digital one.
"We've got people with their electricity being cut off -- being bullied -- and that's not right," said Ree Wattner, who organized a group of dozens of neighbors. They've already met twice trying to find a remedy to the high bills they suspect the smart meters caused.
Wattner even started a Web site for her Smart Utility Reform Citizens group and said she is preparing a petition to the PUC.
But Oncor said it has found fewer than 10 of its 760,000 advanced meters with problems after random tests.
...state records show the Texas Public Utility Commission refused to do a cost-benefit study two years ago -- even after cities and others asked for it.
Plus, CenterPoint Energy, Oncor's counterpart in Houston, just removed 3,002 smart meters because software failures prevented them from being read remotely, according to records the utility filed with the PUC.
Source: WFAA-TV Dallas/Ft. Worth: "Smart meter moratorium sought by Texas senator," March 3, 2010, http://www.wfaa.com/home/Smart-Meter-moratorium-requested-by-Texas-senator-86298422.html
A few days later, consumer anger grows, and calls for action and a moratorium pour in; Oncor is now admitting to problems with reading the new meters.
Dozens of people are furious at sky-high power bills and are convinced the new smart meters are to blame.
"I don't mind paying my bill, but I'm not paying for something I'm not using," said one customer in Grand Prairie on Saturday.
Oncor representatives sat through a tongue lashing at a town hall meeting, where angry customers, pleaded for help with their high bills.
"It's either food, medicine or my electric - there's no way," said Trina Hall.
Nearly all say their bills went up after Oncor replaced the old mechanical meters on their homes with new digital smart meters.
Susan Major has always been careful to save electricity but almost immediately after her new meter went up, so did her bills.
"There's something wrong, either my meter was installed wrong, read wrong, something, and nobody will own up," she said.
Oncor still blames the cold winter for most of the high bills.
But the company now admits its workers misread at least 7,000 new meters when they were installed and overcharged customers.
"What you have is essentially a typo, we're catching those, both with the customers and through our own internal process," said Chris Schein from Oncor.
The utility insists the meters work.
Still, anger is growing, as is suspicion.
Grand Prairie Rep. Kirk England (D) is joining other lawmakers, calling for Oncor to stop installing millions of the new meters across North Texas until an outside agency can test their accuracy.
"I think there's a problem and I think it's more than just weather," he said.
Source: WFAA-TV Dallas/Ft Worth, "Oncor faces mounting anger over high bills," March 6, 2010, http://www.wfaa.com/news/consumer/Oncor-faces-mounting-customer-fury-over-high-bills-86728777.html
Consumers begin to protest and picket:
Opponents of Oncor's new smart meters took their frustration to the utility's doorstep Thursday afternoon.
Almost a dozen people picketed in front of the Oncor's downtown headquarters chanting, "I'm so mad, I see red!"
Smart Utility Reform Citizens, a grass roots group of frustrated electric customers, organized the protest.
The organization has questioned the accuracy of new electronic meters after hundreds of people complained about unexpectedly high electric bills when Oncor replaced their mechanical meters.
Source: WFAA-TV Dallas/Ft Worth, "Smart meter skeptics picket outside Oncor," March 18, 2010: http://www.wfaa.com/news/consumer/Smart-meter-skeptics-picket-outside-Oncor-88468037.html
Complaints prompt a class-action lawsuit:
"Skyrocketing electricity bills are crushing innocent Texas consumers as a result of Oncor's installation of 'smart' meters," the suit proclaims.
The plaintiffs, Robert and Jennifer Cordts and their lawyer, Jason Berent of Berent & Wilson LP, make a laundry list of accusations in the lawsuit. The suit alleges that Oncor is purposely rolling out smart meters in low-income areas first and that smart meters are a ploy for utilities to “line their pockets” in a deregulated market.
The Cordts found their bills skyrocketed from $400 to $700 a month to $1,800 after a smart meter was installed. In three months they racked up nearly $5,000 in electricity bills.
...The lawsuit in Texas is the second lawsuit against smart meters; the other suit is pending against Pacific Gas & Electric in California. The legal actions highlight the chasm between implementing the building blocks of a smart grid and consumer awareness.
“While there may be certain potential benefits to ‘smart’ meters,” the lawsuit notes, “Oncor is not advertising that customers with ‘smart’ meters will ultimately be charged different rates depending on when energy is consumed.”
Time-of-use pricing will be a cornerstone of a fully functional smart grid, yet in this lawsuit, it is painted as a cash grab by utilities.
While TOU pricing is not at the heart of this lawsuit, the mention of peak pricing as an evil ploy to cheat honest customers illustrates how much work needs to be done to engage consumers before smart meter rollouts begin. Currently, TOU pricing is voluntary in Texas. Additionally, while Oncor delivers the electricity, it does not produce it, and consumers can choose their electric provider, each of whom set different rates.
...the lawsuit is a serious blow to Oncor, which doesn’t seem to be able to contain customer anger. Their side-by-side testing of old and new meters has been rejected as a sham and angry consumers are still questioning the software that collects data from the smart meters.
At this time, Oncor does not have any plans to slow or stop the installation of smart meters. “We have not found any evidence that would lead us to believe there is a problem,” said Schein.
Source: GreenTechGrid, "Oncor Sued for Fraud Over Smart Meters; Fleeced! Bamboozled! Plaintiffs claim [smart meters ain’t so smart,'" March 30, 201, http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/oncor-sued-for-fraud-over-smart-meters/
A month later, the utilities admit there was a problem:
Two major utilities in Texas have confirmed that some customers received inaccurate and sometimes inflated bills after turning to SmartMeters to measure their energy usage. PG&E is under fire for its program to install SmartMeters in Northern California. 7 On Your Side has been following the debate since last year.
...More than five million SmartMeters will be installed in Texas by the year 2012. It is the second-largest rollout in the country -- second only to California's. In both states, hundreds of consumers have filed formal complaints about SmartMeters with their public utilities commissions...
..."It's a software glitch," says Floyd LeBlanc with Centerpoint. "We found the software glitch and corrected it."
Centerpoint blames a communication error in the software for sending the meter readings for 5,200 customers back to the utility incorrectly; 3,500 of those were overbilled. Another Texas utility has also acknowledged problems. Oncor says it under-billed 2,000 consumers when the communication software it used failed to sync up with the device.
Source: KGO-TV: “Texas utilities admit billing errors with SmartMeters,” April 14, 2010: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/7_on_your_side&id=7386817
The Texas Public Utility Commission also contracts an "independent" team to study the accuracy of its smart meters. Navigant did the investigation and found the smart meters to be accurate. Navigant is also a proponent of the Smart Grid and has ties to the energy industry.The Texas Tribune: “Report Finds 99.96% of Texas Smart Meters Accurate,” July 30, 2010: http://www.texastribune.org/texas-energy/energy/report-finds-9996-of-texas-smart-meters-accurate/
Navigant Consulting website, Energy Industry: http://www.navigantconsulting.com/industries/energy/
Navigant Consulting press release on recent acquisition and illustrating its close ties with the energy industry and promoting it, Jan 11, 2010: http://www.navigantconsulting.com/thomson/phoenix.zhtml?c=62241&p=irol-newsArticle_Print&ID=1373444&highlight=
Public Utilities Fortnightly, “What Happened in Texas: Evaluating smart meters and public backlash," December 2010, is an article offering Navigant's take on the problems with the wireless smart meter roll-out in Texas: http://www.fortnightly.com/exclusive.cfm?o_id=498
Update: Despite Accuracy Tests,
Billing & Accuracy Horror Stories Continue
Central Coast KION-TV Fox News did a 13-week side-by-side comparison test of a wireless smart meter and your old analog type.
The wireless smart meter recorded more energy usage than the analog one (which was calibrated before the test):
Here are the results: Week 13 Difference: 2.9 kilowatt hours
Week 13 Additional Cost: 85 cents
Total for 3 Month Test: 37 kilowatt hour difference
Additional Cost: $10.76As one viewer commented:
$10.76 more for PG$E WIRELESS smart meters in 3 months = $43.04 more per year.
PG&E has about 10 million customers.
That computes to $430,400,000 (over $430 million extra for PG$E each year).
Source: KION-TV PG&E Smart Meter Side By Side Test Final Results, February 11, updated February 18, 2011, http://www.kionrightnow.com/Global/story.asp?S=14016659
When I see an EXELON home energy rate chart with several tiered layers of subsidy I see DEREGULATION OF ENERGY PRICING DISGUISED AS SUBSIDY. That's what they are doing here in Maryland and as this article shows-----whether Texas or Maryland both very 1% Wall Street far-right global corporate rule states just happening to have the highest electricity rates as well. Our Maryland citizens should watch Texas public policy because Baltimore and our Wall Street Baltimore Development /Johns Hopkins are Bush neo-conservatives doing whatever Texas does. All that energy economy and Texas can't pass that on to its citizens. DEREGULATION----IF YOU THINK MARYLAND HAS ALREADY COMPLETELY DEREGULATED----LOOK CLOSELY AT ENDING FLAT ENERGY RATES FOR ALL.
'Even before these increases, Texas allowed the highest wholesale prices of any state'.
Report: Electricity Deregulation Has Cost Texans $10.4 Billion
How’s the great free-market experiment into electricity deregulation going? Not all that great for the average Texan, according to a report released today that takes a year-by-year look at how deregulation has unfolded since its implementation in 2002.
The report, released by the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, finds that Texans have paid an extra $10.4 billion for electricity under deregulation. That’s largely because of a huge run-up in electric rates between 2005 and 2008, when natural gas prices skyrocketed.
Of the states that have deregulated their electricity markets, Texas is about in the middle of the pack in terms of price increases, about 48 percent for residential ratepayers since 1999.
In the past two years, electric rates in Texas have dipped below the national average.
On its face that would seem to be a vindication of deregulation and the competitive forces it’s supposed to unleash. But, there’s a control in this experiment: city-owned utilities like Austin Energy and CPS Energy in San Antonio, and rural electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities, are still regulated. Comparing prices among deregulated retail electric providers to regulated utilities yields the finding that prices rose faster in “competitive,” deregulated markets.
“Price increases for natural gas are not sufficient to completely explain jumps in electricity costs under deregulation,” the report claims.
You can also compare Texas to our neighbors. Here too we see that electricity prices here have outstripped adjacent states.
While natural gas continues to be the main driver of electric rates in Texas, recent decisions by the Texas Public Utility Commission may come to matter more in the years ahead. The report nicely captures a classic dynamic of corporations in a deregulated marketplace: They tend to cheerlead for “competition” until it affects the bottom line. And often regulators bow to the demands of the powerful.
“Major generation companies like NRG and Luminant combined to clamor for regulatory intervention, complaining that the market was not producing sufficiently high prices to support new investment,” the report states. “This was in contrast to the industry’s earlier warnings against market intervention, back when prices were sky high.”
One of the unforeseen consequences of deregulation is the lack of investment in new power plants.
THIS IS MARYLAND'S PROBLEM TOO.
With little new generation coming online amid soaring demand, the PUC has been scrambling to avoid future blackouts, like happened in February 2011 and were narrowly avoided during the intense summer heat that year.
Earlier this year, the three PUC commissioners, all appointed by Rick Perry, voted to lift the cap on wholesale prices from $3,000 per megawatt-hour to $4,500. The cap is set to rise incrementally over the next few years, hitting $9,000 in 2015. Even before these increases, Texas allowed the highest wholesale prices of any state. “The Commission engaged in very title public deliberation of the potential bill impact on Texas consumers,” the report asserts, “despite very public concerns raised by the editorial boards of major newspapers and several state representatives.”
To date, the PUC has failed to do any substantial analysis of how much Texans’ light bills will go up.