Audio/Video: PG&E Contractor Threatens SmartMeter Refusenik With Disconnection

The group Stop SmartMeters posted audio yesterday from Charles Pine, an Oakland homeowner who refused installation of the device by PG&E contractor Wellington Energy. The contractor responded by informing Pine his power would be disconnected. Pine captured the whole thing on a pocket tape recorder.

Listen below:

KGO interview with Pine:

The PG&E SmartMeter FAQ says only this about about recalcitrant installees:

Can I delay my SmartMeterâ„¢ upgrade if I have some questions or concerns?

Any customer who wishes to delay their meter upgrade can call 1-877-743-7378 to be added to the SmartMeterâ„¢ delayed installation list.

PG&E spokesman Joe Molica said the following to KGO:

If our employee actually made that statement, we are sorry. Because that is not our policy, and we’re looking into this, and we’re making contact with the customer. We want to find out the facts, and to make it clear that they do have the option of delaying their SmartMeter installation.

In March, at the direction of the CPUC, PG&E came up with an opt-out program, but it only further inflamed the device’s critics. The San Jose Mercury News outlined the plan:

To disconnect the wireless part of a SmartMeter would cost most customers either $135 upfront plus $20 per month to have a technician come out and read the meter, or $270 upfront plus $14 per month. There’s also an unspecified “exit fee” to turn the transmitter back on once opt-out customers have vacated their property.

And if those fees don’t cover the $84.4 million that PG&E estimates the opt-out program will cost the utility over a two-year period, it wants regulators to let it raise power rates even more on its opt-out customers to cover the difference.

Some people claim their health is affected by the meters, which emit a small amount of radiation. A report by the California Council on Science and Technology, released in January, found no health risk evident, but also said more study was warranted. That provided just enough fodder for SmartMeter detractors. Many local governments, who actually have no jurisdiction over the matter, have passed moratoriums on the devices.

  • Jerry

    6:49pm, 06.16.11 FYI all: I just called the 877-743-7387 number and got a recording that said “the number you have dialed is temporarily not in service. Message three. switch 3-0-75″ then I guess a version in Spanish. Then call disconnected. No mention of PGE.

  • scott

    You now have to call PG&E directly at 866-743-0263. After putting me on the list the operator, clearly reading from a script, said “PG&E would make (and I quote) AN EFFORT to see to it that I didn’t receive a “smartmeter” before the CPUC hands down its ruling.” I said “WHOA THERE… an EFFORT? What the heck does that mean? That’s a loophole GUARANTEED large enough to put me on their fast install list and drive a PG&E work truck through” How many days before I was guaranteed protected? She couldn’t say, or could only guess- not good enough for me! I let her know I needed to know when I could relax, assured. She said she’d talk to her manager, and the managers word came back, through this operator, that I was guaranteed, as of the time of this phone call, to not have one installed before the CPUC hands down its ruling. Yet more disrepectful gamesmanship from PG&E.

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Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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