Trashed Meters = Profits for PG&E

PG&E’s smart meters just keep getting worse and worse for its customers.

For Immediate Release From The Utility Reform Network

Not only will PG&E rates be higher for years to come as the utility recoups its SmartMeter spending and receives profits on smart meters, but PG&E also wants customers to pay it additional profits on the meters that were pulled out of customers’ homes as well. Worse, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is poised to approve the outrageous demand. The only question is how big the newest customer rip-off will be.

Smart meters, which PG&E is forcing on many customers against their will, have a huge price tag—the $2.2 billion spent by the utility will yield PG&E profits of more than $280 million annually for years to come, all paid by customers. PG&E wants to add millions more to the price tag by collecting profits on its old meters too, and has found a sympathetic ear at the CPUC. Over TURN’s protests, competing CPUC proposals will authorize ratepayer-funded profits of either $90.8 or $128.3 million over the next six years on PG&E’s old meters, now gathering dust in a warehouse somewhere and eventually slated for destruction.

“PG&E is double-dipping,” said TURN legal director Bob Finkelstein. “It’s one thing to get inflated profits on investment that is at least providing utility service. Now PG&E expects profits on what virtually amounts to their garbage. TURN does not think customers should have to pay a penny for junked meters. This is just more evidence that smart meters may be “smart” for PG&E and its shareholders, but are a dumb deal for customers.”

Finkelstein said that a CPUC judge had recommended giving PG&E $91 million in profits on the old meters over the next six years, but that Commission President Michael Peevey had penned an alternate proposal that would make the deal an additional $37.3 million richer for PG&E. “Giveaways like these contribute to the perception that the CPUC is too soft on PG&E,” said Finkelstein. “If PG&E’s management devoted as much effort to finding its safety records as it devoted to finding extra profits, we would all be better off.” The issue is scheduled for a vote at the Commission’s regular business meeting on March 24.