San Francisco, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — October 19, 2009 – Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will be required to obtain an independent verification of the accuracy of its smart meters currently being deployed in Bakersfield, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has decided.
The move comes in response to concerns expressed by consumers as well as state Senators Dean Florez and Roy Ashburn over high energy bills that have occurred at the same time PG&E installed smart meters in Bakersfield.
“In order to examine the facts surrounding the issues, PG&E will work with an independent third party chosen by us to review both the hardware and software of the smart meters,” said CPUC president Michael R. Peevey. “In addition, PG&E must submit weekly reports to the CPUC on customer complaints about smart meters, and must report to the CPUC the location of future smart meter installations and the consumer education and outreach it is conducting in those areas.”
The CPUC approved PG&E’s smart meter plan on July 20, 2006, and authorized the company to install smart meters throughout its territory and upgrade all of its approximately 5 million electric meters and 4 million gas meters over a 5-year period.
Peevey added that complaints from consumers are not taken lightly and the CPUC will take all necessary and appropriate actions if a problem is found.
In addition, the CPUC will establish an internal task force on smart meter deployment in order to keep abreast of developments in the PG&E service territory and statewide.
In a separate decision the CPUC approved a refund of $424.4 million to electric customers of PG&E as a result of an over-collection of funds needed to pay for the cost of electricity. Refunds will be made to electric customers in the form of a one-time bill credit in the November/December 2009 billing cycle.
The over-collection resulted from lower than expected energy costs during the year since PG&E’s rates were updated. Furthermore, since energy prices continue to be low, the CPUC will establish PG&E’s expected cost of electricity for next year at a level that ensures that customer bills will continue to collect no more than these costs on a going-forward basis.