Wireless Meter News in Review 12-22-10

Psst…A ‘Smart Grid’ is Wiser If We Put It In The Wires…(Pass it on.)

Check out PG&E’s Corporado Rap Sheet – A review of a shameful history
From EnergyNet.org:
“PG&E isn’t your average utility company. Up until the mid 1990’s it had been the largest privately owned electric utility company in the U.S. with over 4 million customers, covering 2/3rds of California. The company has played a major role in shaping California and its political climate during the 20th century….”

Some PG&E Facts of Note:
Founded in 1905 – Robber Barron Era
Worked with corporate coalition in 1920’s to fight public ownership of banks, insurance, railroads, telephone companies, the media, and other energy corporations.
Erin Brockovich – sued PG&E for hexavalent chlorine contamination
PG&E Co. – CA subsidiary of…
PG&E Corp. – holding company – suspected of hiding $4 B so it could file for bankruptcy and bill California.
Empire of over 200 subsidiaries in 12 levels, over 16 states, Cayman Islands, Malaysia, Canada and Australia
Views competition as ‘destructive’
Repeatedly tried to kill public power – Prop 16 latest try
CEO Peter Darbee – $10.6 million a year
Diablo Canyon Nuke Plant – multiple fiascos – now rushing re-licensing
Leading spender on lobbying for nuclear power in Wash.DC
Leading pusher of wireless SmartMeters, SmartGrid and centralized power generation

A word on corporate structure, Thanks to Barbara George of WEM – WomensEnergyMaters.org:
Easy to be confused over the utility vs. parent companies – here are the big 4 utilities & the big 3 parents:

PG&E corp. (transnational parent – see above)
PG&E company (the utility – gas & electric)

Edison International (parent)
So. Calif. Edison (the utility – electric only)

SEMPRA (parent)
San Diego Gas & Electric (the utility – gas & electric)
So. Calif. Gas Co. (the utility – gas only – serves Edison customers)

San Clemente seeks info on smart meters
By FRED SWEGLES
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
San Clemente’s City Council will gather more information about a new technology that’s coming to town – smart meters – and may ask San Diego Gas & Electric to hold off on installing them on every home and business here until questions can be aired.
“Can we wait?” Mayor Lori Donchak asked at Tuesday night’s council meeting. The council has scheduled a discussion for its Feb. 1 meeting.
The mayor said she spent much of the weekend reading materials and viewing YouTube videos about how smart meters – wireless electric meters that power companies install on homes – have become an issue in some Northern California cities and around the country, with questions raised about health effects on people sensitive to radio-frequency emissions and whether wireless technology poses privacy issues.

A California Group Says Smart Meters Can Make You Sick
…A flurry of protests, replies and comments ensued during the summer of Smart Grid Smackdown, including comments to the Proposed Decision (“PD”) granting PG&E’s motion to dismiss. The Division of Ratepayer Advocates (“DRA”) argued in its comments that the CPUC is responsible to ensure that smart meters do not endanger public health and “Unless the public’s concerns can be put to rest, there is a very great risk that PG&E’s Smart Meter deployment will turn out to be a $2.2 billion mistake that ratepayers can ill afford.”
On December 2, 2010, the CPUC, paved the way for PG&E’s continued deployment of smart meters by adopting the PD and granting PG&E’s motion to dismiss. Given the emotional protest involved, I have a feeling the case and the issues raised will not end with the CPUC’s decision.

Questioning the ‘Smart’ in Smart Meters By TOM ZELLER JR. – NYT
Smart electric meters — those digital devices favored by utilities and efficiency advocates for their contribution to a more precisely and economically measured, monitored and managed electric grid — got a big boost last year with a $3.4 billion injection of stimulus cash.
But as I write in Saturday’s Times, small and vocal pockets of opposition to the devices are forming all over the United States.

‘Smart’ Electric Utility Meters, Intended to Create Savings, Instead Prompt Revolt
By MATTHEW L. WALD – NYT
Customers in California are in open revolt, and officials in Connecticut and Texas are questioning whether the rush to install meters benefits the public.

The Electromagnetic Menace
It was the year of the EMF backlash. SmartMeters. Cell phones. Towers and antennas. None of it safe, all of it under the watchful eye of riled-up activists.
By Nate Seltenrich

Huffman bill would allow residents to reject SmartMeters
By Richard Halstead – Marin Independent Journal
Reacting to constituents’ concerns about the potential health effects
of smart meters, Assemblyman Jared Huffman introduced legislation
Monday that would allow customers to reject use of the wireless gas
and electric meters.

San Bruno blast credibility chasm
The truth factor has dropped to a new low for both the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and its overseer, the California Public Utilities Commission, with the latest disclosures in the devastating San Bruno pipeline blast.

PG&E Will Get Tens of Millions in Unearned Bonuses
Regulators voted today to award state utilities $62.7 million, despite a judge’s ruling against the bonuses.

State’s gas pipeline inspections found to lag
…Mile for mile, California conducts the fewest natural gas pipeline safety inspections of any state, prompting federal officials to sanction the state for seven years running and warn its regulators against shortchanging public safety, a Chronicle review of documents and federal data shows.
…From 2003 through 2009, California’s Public Utilities Commission was alone among all the state agencies enforcing federal rules to fail each year to meet the government’s expected minimum inspection levels, records show.

Contra Costa Times editorial: PG&E loses credibility over San Bruno investigation
. . . “The latest revelations about PG&E’s faulty pipeline records are hardly the first blow to the utility’s credibility. The company was less than candid in informing the public about its SmartMeters, resulting in considerable concern among its customers.

Even worse, PG&E wasted $46 million in a failed attempt to pass Proposition 16 last June. The ballot measure, which was funded almost entirely by the utility, would have undermined the ability of local governments to enter the electricity business. The utility also wasted money opposing Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban initiative that had nothing to do with the utility’s responsibilities.

PG&E says infiltration of online group was limited
The former Pacific Gas and Electric Co. executive who tried to infiltrate an online group of the company’s critics by using a fake name appears to have been the only company employee who did so, the utility reported Monday.
But PG&E reserves the right to monitor websites and discussion groups of people opposed to the company’s controversial SmartMeters – provided those sites and groups are open to the public, a company spokesman said. On at least one occasion, the company even told its meter installers to vacate a work yard that was going to be targeted by protesters after learning of the plan online.
“There are people who will continue to review these, as long as they’re publicly accessible,” said PG&E spokesman David Eisenhauer.

PG&E documents reveal that snooping executive widely shared his findings
By Dana Hull – SJM
Despite PG&E’s earlier claims that he acted alone, a former executive who monitored online discussion groups by activists opposed to SmartMeters widely shared what he gleaned with other PG&E employees.
Internal PG&E documents turned over to state regulators and made available to the Mercury News on Monday also reveal that PG&E went beyond mere online monitoring. A series of e-mail exchanges show that PG&E sent an employee to monitor a SmartMeter demonstration in Rohnert Park in October. The employee, whose name was redacted, took at least four photographs of protesters, writing in an e-mail, “This is fun no one said ‘espionage’ in the job description.”
“It’s quite creepy to know that we were actually being spied on by PG&E,” Sebastopol resident Sandi Maurer said. “They were at our protest, watching, taking photographs and sending notes back to PG&E.”

The spy who emailed me…
by Ronnie Cohen – Pacific Sun
PG&E has turned over to a state regulatory agency hundreds of pages of emails detailing the utility’s employees spying on consumers protesting against wireless meters.
The messages show that, thanks to a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. executive’s online snooping, the utility foiled an October protest planned for a SmartMeter installation yard in Rohnert Park. Before protestors arrived, the yard was moved.

A power shift for consumers
The reputation of the California Public Utilities Commission badly needs repair. Many residents worry it’s too lax when it comes to safety, energy company policies and consumer issues. Just ask the burned-out residents of San Bruno, where a Pacific Gas and Electric pipeline explosion killed nine and destroyed 36 homes in September.
Gov.-elect Jerry Brown will have a chance to send the right message when he takes office Jan. 3. The terms of two commissioners on the five-member panel will have expired with a third ending later next year. Brown should look for experienced and critical-minded figures who can inject a more questioning attitude in the rule-making watchdog agency.

Energy savings can be achieved without PG&E’s disastrous SmartMeter devices
by Marcel Hawiger, TURN Staff Attorney
President Obama made it a cornerstone of his economic stimulus package. Thomas Friedman wrote about it in his bestselling book “Hot Flat and Crowded.” And now even Google is getting in on the act. They believe a “smart” electricity grid is key to stopping global warming and reducing our energy dependency. Consumer advocates are not convinced.
The high-tech and energy industries are leading the charge for the smart grid as if cost were no object. They propose to add billions of dollars to your electricity bills to invest in a “21st century” electric grid. By allowing your utility company to monitor and control electricity remotely, they claim we can reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gases, integrate individual rooftop solar installations and accommodate intermittent wind resources. And create jobs doing it.

There’s Gold In Smart Grid Data
There’s gold in smart grid data — only about $356 million of it today, but potentially $4.2 billion of it by 2015. That’s Pike Research’s bold prediction for the global market for smart grid data analytics, or software and services that can mine data and provide intelligence for smart grid vendors, utilities and consumers.
While utilities around the world will be dealing with a flood of smart grid data in the coming years, they will also need to mine that data to find ways to cut costs, improve customer adoption and better predict future power needs.
Applying the smart algorithms and applications of the Internet industry to the smart grid could unleash a host of new ways of doing business.

Editors’ note:
We understand that other businesses will be looking to use the mesh network when it is not being used for utility data transmission. One of the uses is city-wide Wi-Fi. Here are some articles:

Utility meters go wireless: Burbank Water and Power tries out method to track usage, report blackouts. System could eventually lead to citywide Wi-Fi.

Burbank Smart Grid upgrade includes citywide WiFi

Wellington, FL deploys municipal Wi-Fi network for wireless AMR

Santa Clara, CA uses old MetroFi network for wireless AMR

Santa Clara, CA gets smart meters and free citywide WiFi

An interesting side-bar ad/promo on the Burbank Smart Grid article at Muniwireless.com is for Mesh Dynamics, advertising “wireless for the outdoor enterprise” including military applications, homeland security, and video surveillance.

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