PG&E admits to thousands of inaccurate utility bills
May 11, 2010
Consumer advocates are calling for a moratorium on the so-called SmartMeters after PG&E admitted Monday that as many as 23,000 customers statewide received inaccurate electricity bills. [Mercury News]
PG&E could not pinpoint how many of those customers were overcharged, or how many were undercharged, nor the total sum of the inaccuracies. However, utility officials admitted to mishandling their response to consumer complaints and pledged a complete overhaul of customer service efforts.
So far, 5.5 million SmartMeters have been installed throughout northern California at a rate of about 10,000 a day. Hundreds of customers have already complained that the new digital meters about skyrocketing electric bills, fueling suspicions that the meters either malfunction or are used intentionally to overcharge.
For months, PG&E insisted there were no problems with the SmartMeters, instead blaming higher bills on increased air-conditioning during summer months. In a Monday press conference, PG&E reversed position and made public status updates on the SmartMeter program.
In April, for example, there were 43, 376 cases in which the SmartMeters were involved in some kind of problem, including the 23,000 meters that were installed improperly.
Mark Toney, executive director of the consumer advocacy group TURN, renewed his call for a moratorium on SmartMeters until all the issues are resolved.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Toney said. “We never get to the iceberg, but the tip just keeps getting bigger.”