PG&E violates moratorium

Resident has Smart Meter installed against his wishes.

Despite an assurance last month from PG&E that they would halt installation of their Smart Meter program in Fairfax, at least one resident received a meter last week against his will.

"I'm super upset with PG&E," said Fairfax resident Frank Carazzo.

Carazzo said he called PG&E to fix his water heater. According to Carazzo, the PG&E contractor who came told his wife that he'd be back in 20 minutes and, in that time, installed a gas smart meter. The contractor, then, said he couldn't fix the water heater and left.

"Someone came to my house to fix something I called in and didn't fix it and secretively altered something else on my property," said Carazzo.

PG&E's Smart Meter program is rolling out 10 million wireless gas and electric meters at a cost of $2.2 billion across the state. The meters use a combination of cellular networks and radio frequencies to transmit an individual's electric and gas usage data back to PG&E. Read about how the meters work here.

Because of a number of issues raised previously about the meters – including concerns about accuracy, safety, health and privacy – PG&E voluntarily implemented a moratorium on the installation of the meters within Fairfax.

"What we decided as a company is to hold off on any further deployment in Fairfax until we help educate your public," said PG&E representative Josh Townsend at the August Fairfax Town Council meeting.

At that meeting, Fairfax also passed its own ordinance banning the meters in town for one year.

Which raises the question why PG&E installed a smart meter at Carazzo's house.

PG&E spokesperson Katie Romans said that there was a problem with Carazzo's gas meter, which required the installation of a new meter. Traditional meters are no longer being manufactured. This means that the PG&E contractor had to install a new wireless smart meter, though the meter isn't activated and still requires a person to come out and manually read it.

Carazzo, however, calls that reasoning a "loophole" to get around the moratorium and says his maintenance problem with the water heater had nothing to do with the gas meter.

"I was having no problem with the gas meter," he said.

Town Manager Michael Rock said that the town is working with PG&E representatives to figure out what happened and Romans said a PG&E representative is working with Carazzo. Rock said, though, that short of working with PG&E it may be difficult to enforce the ordinance banning the meters.

"We don't know how exactly we would enforce the ordinance other than to sue them," said Rock.

PG&E will be hosting a "listening session," said Rock, on Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Women's Club. Residents are encouraged to "voice their concerns and ask as many questions as they can," said Rock. At a later session, tentatively scheduled for the end of September, PG&E representatives will then answer all those questions.

"We are working with city leaders to address customer's concerns," said Romans.

PG&E is also hosting an open house at the Fairfax Community Church on Sept. 8 at 6 p.m.

This comes in the wake of an independent audit from the Structure Group released yesterday at the California Public Utilities Commission that found the PG&E Smart Meters are accurate. The report also said that PG&E needed to work on its customer service.

They may not have won over another customer in Carazzo, who said he won't rest until the meter is removed.

"It's just so dishonest, sneaky and annoying," he said.


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