PG&E offers education opportunity
Pacific Gas and Electric Company is hosting a SmartMeter Educational Center on Thursday at the electric company's Red Bluff customer service office, 515 Luther Road.
The center will be open from 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and from 12:30-2 p.m.
According to PG&E, the SmartMeter program will provide Tehama County customers with more information about their energy usage and more rate options to help them reduce their energy use and bills.
Work on replacing the old PG&E gas/electricity meters began in the North State a few months, and work in Tehama County starts very soon, said PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno.
The SmartMeters replace the manually-read dial meters invented by Thomas Edison about 100 years ago.
"Meters have virtually remained unchanged in all this time," said Moreno. "The old analog meters have been great workhorses, but it's time for change."
Moreno said the new meters will track electricity and gas use, and wirelessly transmit the data to the utility company.
The new system will allow PG&E customers to see how and when they are using energy without having to wait for a monthly bill.
"Instead of getting a lump sum of energy used, customers can go online and see how and when they are using energy — whether hourly, daily or weekly," Moreno said. "By tracking usage, customers can use the information to help reduce consumption and lower their overall energy bills."
In the long run, the utility expects the program to benefit the environment by decreasing demand on the power grid, which, along with utilizing renewable energy sources, could reduce the need for additional fossil-fuel power plants, Moreno said.
As the new systems are installed, Moreno said PG&E is trying to shift its meter readers into other positions within the company, but eventual personnel savings will be built back into the rates.
PG&E has already sank more than $1 billion into the new technology, which was offset by the previous rate increases.
The rollout of the new meters in the Bakersfield area sparked a backlash of complaints that the smart meters produced higher energy bills.
Those complaints and the threat of a class-action lawsuit resulted in the California Pubic Utility Commission ordering an independent review of the meters by a Houston, Texas, consulting group.
The finding was that SmartMeters deployed by the company not only worked accurately, but worked more accurately than the old meters, Moreno said.
For more information about PG&E's SmartMeter program, visit www.pge.com/smartmeter, or call PG&E's 24-hour SmartMeter Hotline at 866-743-0263.
Tri-County Newspapers reporter Susan Meeker contributed to this article.