The Santa Barbara-based Consumers Power Alliance (CPA) has asked the Public Utilities Commission to deny the Southern California Gas Company request for opt-out fees on the Smart Meters the gas company is about to install. If the gas company’s opt-out fee is approved, CPA organizer Heather Bryden objected, gas company customers will have to pay two such fees, one to their gas company and another to the electric company.
The PUC has already approved a $70 opt-out fee for Southern California Edison, coupled with a monthly charge of $10. Bryden noted that customers of PG&E — both a gas and electric company — only had to pay one opt-out fee.
The CPA represents a cross-section of energy consumers opposed to the Smart Meters for a wide array of concerns, privacy and radiation chief among them. Bryden warned that the Smart Meters are paving the way for dramatic rate increases. She said Southern California Edison has proposed a 17.9 percent rate hike for Tier I consumers that’s yet to be approved.
Smart Meter advocates insist the devices allow consumers to better monitor their energy and that the efficiencies derived will save the equivalent of one power plant’s worth of electricity.