SM Opt Out Costs Should Come From Profits, Not Rates

PG&E Should Have Listened to Customers and Held Off on Smart Meters

For Immediate Release from TURN, The Utility Reform Network

Contact: Mindy Spatt, TURN, 415.929.8876, ext. 306

Wednesday, Feb. 1, San Francisco—TURN said today that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) was moving in the right direction by approving a smart meter opt-out program, but that the high costs would remain a barrier for many. TURN is demanding that the CPUC require PG&E to pay some of the costs of the opt-out out of profits, rather than sticking customers with the whole bill.

The Commission will consider TURN’s demands in a later proceeding on opt-out costs, which will determine how much opt-outs will actually cost PG&E, how much customers will pay and how much shareholders will pay.

“TURN is not convinced PG&E can’t do this more cheaply,” said TURN executive director Mark Toney. “If the CPUC requires PG&E to fund customer choice out of profits, as TURN has recommended, we suspect PG&E will be able to quickly come up with a less costly option.”

Toney noted that customers are already paying over $2 billion for smart meters, and investment that has so far bought most consumers nothing but grief.

“PG&E put many of these meters in over customers’ objections,” Toney said. “Now the company wants to charge an arm and a leg to take them out. Why didn’t PG&E listen to customers in the first place?”