PG&E releases smart meter reports and announces new customer service measures


Helen Burt,
Senior Vice President &
Chief Customer Officer,
San Francisco, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — May 11, 2010 – Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) yesterday released on its website forty-five reports dating back to August 2006 that provide a detailed look inside the company’s SmartMeter™ program, and also announced a series of measures to address customer service issues.

The release of the reports, which have been provided to the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) as well as the Division of Ratepayer Advocates since the start of the SmartMeter™ program, follows an order from the PUC last week (see PG&E ordered to make AMI project reports public)

“We welcome the opportunity to share these reports publicly,” said PG&E senior vice president and chief customer officer Helen Burt. “The reports also show that PG&E has been frank, forthright and proactive with regulators and ratepayer advocates about our progress and challenges, and has made painstaking efforts to ensure this technology performs the way we and our customers expect it to.”

The reports, which run to almost 700 pages, contain comprehensive technical and financial data on the ongoing status of the SmartMeter™ program. These include monitoring, testing and corrections identified and applied throughout the program, in most cases before the issues could affect customers or their bills, PG&E said in a statement. Included in the information are “risk tables” and “mitigation tables” showing that the company took steps to think through and address a wide range of potential issues that could arise.

According to the statement PG&E identified in the reports 137 unique risks and issues over a 4-year period. Of the 118 that required specific action plans for resolution, 107 have been resolved. Four of those issues impacted customer bills, and PG&E identified those last month as involving wireless communications, data storage, meter installation and meter accuracy.

The statement also said the company was renewing its commitment to customers with a pledge to address customer service issues better, more quickly, and more aggressively than previously. Actions to this end include doubling the number of homes with side-by-side meter testing from 150 to 300 homes, increasing the number of customer Answer Centers offering one-on-one service to address questions and concerns, using a dedicated SmartMeter™ customer call center to ensure specialized and expedited handling of questions and concerns regarding the SmartMeter™ devices, and adding 165 additional customer service representatives to improve customer service and help customers with billing.

In addition the customer communications around the installation of SmartMeter™ devices would be revamped and customers would receive multiple communications in multiple ways about the new device, and all customers who receive an estimated bill for two billing cycles would be called to explain the reasons for the bill estimate and facilitate payment arrangements.

PG&E will also provide weekly updates on its SmartMeter™ program, including milestones or key developments as they happen, and will post on its website the results of the side-by-side meter testing data.

“We have confidence in this technology and in our program,” said Burt. “While 99 percent of our SmartMeter™ devices are installed and working properly, we recognize that even having less than 1 percent of meters with issues is still 50,000 customers, and that’s too many.”