SmartMeters Arrive in Montclair

Pacific Gas and Electric has installed around 6 million of its new SmartMeters across the state. Power customers here in the Oakland Hills are now starting to get theirs.

One of PG&E's Old Analog Meters

The first gripe about the new meters was that they didn’t work. The knock was that they overcharged. According to PG&E, only 0.12 percent of the SmartMeters they’ve installed are not beaming data back to the mother ship. And if that happens, the utility user actually gets a discount on the next bill. PG&E says that the SmartMeters are phase one of creating a smart power grid. When electricity usage can measured across the network in real time, the utility and its customers save energy and money. That’s the idea, anyway.

The SmartMeters are arriving in Montclair just in time for a new controversy. The East Bay Express writes that some people think the bursts of radio waves the meters transmit can harm one’s health. A bunch of Northern California towns have called for a moratorium on the SmartMeters. The Marin Independent Journal opined this week that PG&E needs to do a better job of explaining the SmartMeters. As the East Bay Express noted, PG&E won’t say how powerful the “peak pulses” on the SmartMeters actually are.

What’s been your experience with the new technology? Do you look forward to lower bills, or do you worry the SmartMeters will be hazardous to your health?

4 thoughts on “SmartMeters Arrive in Montclair

  1. No experience with smart meters yet, but I’m looking forward to the additional information that they can provide, similar to what Google Powermeter has been giving us for the last couple months. I’d love that kind of info from the gas meter (which the smart meters will give eventually give us) and the water meter, too. Though we’re doing quite well on the water usage — most of our bill is EBMUD wastewater and Oakland sewer service charges.

  2. This is just the inevitable by-product of a scientifically illiterate population served by a scientifically illiterate journalist corps. The smart meters can appear to charge more for air conditioning because they charge accurately for loads with power factors less than 1, whereas the old meters did not. Air conditioner motors typically have a power factor of around 0.3 when starting up, so if your air conditioner stops and starts frequently you were getting all that extra electricity for free. The smart meter fully accounts for the cost of this power.

    As for the people upset about the microburst transmitter inside the meter, please get real. These things are negligible compared to the TV, radio, cellular, wi-fi, and other traffic blasting through the atmosphere at all times. Not to mention the Sun.

  3. While I was out volunteering at the Habitat worksite today, PG&E came and installed SmartMeters! Now to find out how to get near real-time data on my computer so we can track our gas usage the way we’ve been tracking our electricity.

  4. I wonder when the installed meters will be operational. According to Susan Lockwood, who sends out a Forestwood email, “When I called on Wednesday, I was told (and this was corroborated by one other neighbor recently) that although they are installing the meters, they have not yet been turned on. They are still sending meter readers out to read our old meters.”

    “Furthermore, I was told that until EVERYONE in the area has a SM installed and ready to go, they will not turn on our area. ‘In other words,’ I asked her, ‘if even one of us keeps a SM from being installed, then the entire neighborhood stays on the old meters?’ She said, ‘Yes, we turn on the whole are grid at once.’ Now….she sounded knowledgeable enough, but who knows for sure.”

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