Report on Smart Meter Problems

The December 2012 report “Analysis: Smart Meter and Smart Grid Problems – Legislative Proposal” is available to the public. This 173-page report by activist Nina Beety has extensive referenced information about many of the problems and risks of the Smart Meter program, with information from state, national, and international resources. Supplemental documents can be downloaded here.

Originally written for California legislators, this updated report also provides a legislative and regulatory action plan for halting this program, and suggestions for reforming utility regulation so that the public is protected in the future.

Table of Contents

What is a Smart Meter?
Smart Grid/Smart Meter problems and issues
- Overview
- Overcharging, accuracy, and the Structure Group report
- Reliability
- Privacy invasion
- Fires and electrical problems
- Health problems Continue reading

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Take Back Your Power — upcoming screenings

19 Nov – St. Louis, MO, USA – flyer

22 Nov – Seattle, WA (w/Josh)flyer

25 Nov - Tairua, NZ – flyer

01 Dec - Belgrave, VIC, Australia – tickets

10 Dec – Royal Oak, MI, USA (w/Josh)flyer

14 Jan - Palo Alto, CA, USA – tickets

» see all screening details

» host a community screening

» host a theatrical screening:

» request TV broadcast

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CPUC tries to establish sole jurisdiction over utilities in opt-out proceeding

The CPUC is attempting to establish a legal precedent that it has sole authority over utilities and the public in utility matters.

California law clearly states that the CPUC shares authority with other entities in regulating the utilities, but the Proposed Decision for the Smart Meter opt-out proceeding boldly asserts pre-eminent CPUC power. Section 6, Community Opt-Out, pages 47-55, in convoluted and manipulative fashion, ignores existing law and the California Constitution.

There are other problems with this proposed decision, including opt-out fees and refusing commercial and community opt-outs. But the biggest issue is whether the CPUC has the authority to make these decisions in the first place and force the public to comply with its programs.

That issue goes far beyond the Smart Meter issue and affects all utility matters in California – transmission corridors, power plants, nuclear reactors, wind and solar farms, transportation corridors, etc..

The proposed decisions are here –

Smart Meter Opt-Out proceedings 11-03-014, 11-03-015, 11-07-020 – Proposed Decisions — Overview

Here’s what California law states (full text below):

Public Utilities Code Section 2901-2906 and Section 761.3d are very clear about the powers of municipal corporations, and local, state and federal agencies to regulate, supervise, and set rules and deadlines over utility companies, especially on matters of public health and safety. The California Constitution also states that all cities have power to determine the terms of franchise agreements, and cities incorporated by Oct. 10, 1911 have greater powers to police utilities.

Also, the Bagley-Keene Act (Section 11120) states

The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them.

Ultimately, the people hold power both over utility companies and over the CPUC.

However, these laws are being ignored, misstated, or quoted out of context to provide an illusion of sole jurisdiction for the CPUC.

The CPUC has barred consideration or investigation of overbilling, accuracy, and health and safety issues from Smart Meter proceedings. Only by doing so, and by claiming that it has sole jurisdiction over utilities, can it continue to promote the Smart Meter program. It follows this logic with other utility issues in the state. And utility companies loudly chorus that the CPUC, its captured agency, is the only entity that can control them.

Under California Public Utilities Code, the CPUC must fix problems caused by utility companies but only if it holds a hearing—Section 761. It does not require the CPUC to hold hearings. I addressed this in my report[i] with a legislative remedy that the CPUC be required to investigate problems immediately upon a certain threshold of complaints.

The deadline for intervenor comments is today, Nov. 18, but the public and public advocacy organizations can comment until a decision is reached – as early as December 4.


Please send a copy of comments to your state representatives as well as the Chairman of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee 3, Richard Bloom (Chief of Staff Sean MacNeil That subcommittee has been the only state group that has called the PUC on the carpet.

You can also send a copy of comments to Administrative Law Judge Amy Yip-Kikugawa: and to Chairman Michael Peevey’s advisor Manisha Lakhanpal: .

Unfortunately, Gov. Jerry Brown’s close ties to PG&E and Attorney General Kamala Harris’ teamwork make them unresponsive to PUC corruption. State laws will have to be changed on the CPUC and on government officials to mandate that they protect the public.

California law

California Public Utilities Code
SECTION 2901-2906

  1. Any municipal corporation may retain or surrender to the commission the powers of control vested in it to supervise and regulate the relationship between any one or more classes of public utilities, and their present or prospective customers, consumers, or patrons, and, if it has retained such powers over any class of public utilities, may thereafter surrender such powers to the commission.
  2. This chapter shall not be construed to authorize any municipal corporation to surrender to the commission its powers of control to supervise and regulate the relationship between a public utility and the general public in matters affecting the health, convenience, and safety of the general public, including matters such as the use and repair of public streets by any public utility, the location of the poles, wires, mains, or conduits of any public utility, on, under, or above any public streets, and the speed of common carriers operating within the limits of the municipal corporation.
  3. Unless the context otherwise requires, the definitions and general provisions set forth in this article govern the construction of this chapter.
  4. “Municipal corporation” means a city and county or incorporated city.
  5. “Legislative body” means the board of supervisors, municipal council, commission, or other legislative or governing body of a municipal corporation.
  6. “Powers of control” means all powers of control vested in a municipal corporation to supervise and regulate (a) the relationship between public utilities and their present or prospective customers, consumers, or patrons. The term does not include the powers of control vested in any municipal corporation to supervise and regulate the relationship between such public utilities and the general public in matters affecting the health, convenience, and safety of the general public, including matters such as the use and repair of public streets by any public utility, the location of the poles, wires, mains, or conduits of any public utility, on, under, or above any public streets, and (b) the speed of common carriers operating within the limits of the municipal corporation.

California Public Utilities Code
Whenever the commission, after a hearing, finds that the rules, practices, equipment, appliances, facilities, or service of any public utility, or the methods of manufacture, distribution, transmission, storage, or supply employed by it, are unjust, unreasonable, unsafe, improper, inadequate, or insufficient, the commission shall determine and, by order or rule, fix the rules, practices, equipment, appliances, facilities, service, or methods to be observed, furnished, constructed, enforced, or employed. The commission shall prescribe rules for the performance of any service or the furnishing of any commodity of the character furnished or supplied by any public utility, and, on proper demand and tender of rates, such public utility shall furnish such commodity or render such service within the time and upon the conditions provided in such rules. (Section 761)

SECTION 761.3d:
Nothing in this section shall result in the modification, delay, or abrogation of any deadline, standard, rule, or regulation adopted by a federal, state, or local agency for the purposes of protecting public health or the environment, including, but not limited to, any requirements imposed by the State Air Resources Board or by an air pollution control district or an air quality management district pursuant to Division 26 (commencing with Section 39000) of the Health and Safety Code.

California Constitution
A city, county, or other public body may not regulate matters over which the Legislature grants regulatory power to the Commission. This section does not affect power over public utilities relating to the making and enforcement of police, sanitary, and other regulations concerning municipal affairs pursuant to a city charter existing on October 10, 1911, unless that power has been revoked by the city’s electors, or the right of any city to grant franchises for public utilities or other businesses on terms, conditions, and in the manner prescribed by law.

Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act
Section 11120:
It is the public policy of this state that public agencies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business and the proceedings of public agencies be conducted openly so that the public may remain informed. In enacting this article the Legislature finds and declares that it is the intent of the law that actions of state agencies be taken openly and that their deliberation be conducted openly. The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created. This article shall be known and may be cited as the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act.

For a fuller coverage of federal and state legal violations:
“Analysis: Smart Meter and Smart Grid Problems – Legislative Proposal, December 2012”



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U.S. regulatory commissioners vote tomorrow on resolutions on Smart Grid, nuclear energy, water use, power plant emissions

Here are the resolutions:

The resolutions, if adopted, become the official position of United States utility regulatory commissions.

Write your utility commission today to oppose these resolutions. They vote at 10:30 AM Pacific Time. Calling your commission (PUC public advisor’s office in California; different titles for different states) will get you registered as a “yes” or “no” only. To send comments on these resolutions, send them by email as well.

In California, it’s 415-703-2074 (press “0” to get an operator)

All of these resolutions affect us.

TC-1 Resolution on Utilities Access to Spectrum to Promote Public Safety
This asks for RF spectrum for the communications network of the Smart Grid.

EL-1 Resolution Recognizing the Importance of Nuclear Power in Meeting Greenhouse Gas Goals
This states that nuclear energy is a necessary part of “green” energy.

WC-1, ERE-1, GS-1 Resolutions Regarding the Water-Energy Nexus
These assert state authority and is a mixed bag of issues. It gives a passing kudo to fracking and “regulating” it, which means allowing it with a thin veneer of rules – California proposed “regulations” are a good example. It also asks for leniency on emissions from power plants if other state goals are met, such as “clean” energy.

These resolutions are tied into a resolution they passed in 2013[i] and is also tied into NI-1 on nuclear energy (there are very hazardous ongoing emissions from nuclear plants the public is unaware of). It would continue the water waste at power plants from lenient rules.

The resolutions will be input to the EPA and the FCC from the U.S. utility commissioners.

Take action if you oppose these resolutions.



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U.S. public utility regulators in San Francisco Nov. 15-19 for annual conference with industry

No mission statement could so clearly spell out the goals and objectives of utility regulatory commissioners as their actions this week at their annual conference held in San Francisco.

The National Association of Utility Regulatory Commissioners — NARUC — is the professional organization for utility regulatory commissioners.[i] Anyone interested in their goals and objectives just has to read the conference agenda: [ii]

Look through the workshops, presenters, and registered attendees.

Notice the lack of consumer groups or representatives presenting to commissioners or even in attendance. How many in the public even knew about this conference?

The seminars and panel discussions are led by PUC commissioners and industry representatives.

Look at all the issues impacting the public that have no one presenting the public’s points of view and priorities.

Don’t be misled by Patty Durand and her Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative. This group should be named Smart Grid Industry Partners Alliance, but that would be truth in advertising.[iii]

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) seems like it would be a public advocate, but it is actually involved in the Smart Grid and has become an industry partner, getting paid for participation in PUC proceedings. TURN is a sometimes public advocate group that makes millions from ratepayers through PUC proceedings.

Is this agenda unusual? Read last year’s conference or the agendas of meetings held during the year.

Here is the agenda for the 2013 conference

Here is the agenda for the 2012 Western PSC conference – a subset of NARUC

The presenters are industry representatives and commissioners in 95% of the cases.

So, whose voice gets heard? Not the public. When adopting policy initiatives, commissioners get their information almost exclusively from industry and its affiliated cheerleaders.

Page 48 of the agenda lists some of the upcoming meetings of these commissioners. These meetings happen throughout the year.

CPUC Chairman Michael Peevey, who is on the NARUC board, will be attending and presenting, as well as the other CPUC commissioners. A long list of CPUC staff will be present. Utility commissioners and staff from across the United States are flying in for this yearly event. Over 1300 people registered as of November 16.

Sponsorship for the conference is mainly by industry organizations and businesses, such as Qualcomm, Smart Meter manufacturers Itron and Landis & Gyr, America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), and the Nuclear Energy Institute.

Though AARP is a co-sponsor, only three AARP officials are attending and one no-name registrant. AARP is not involved with any workshops. Why are they co-sponsoring this utility/regulatory commission love fest?

The conference theme is “Equipped to Lead: 125 years of effective regulation.”

“Effective regulation” for whom?

 The commissioners will hold meetings (some of which are invitation only though these are public officials), elect new executive board officers, and hear from former Chairman of the FCC, Michael Powell, now the President and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association – a good example of the industry/public agency revolving door.

They will learn on Wednesday about dealing with scrutiny from the public and heightened visibility during “high interest” topics, as well as “well-funded” public advocacy efforts and the media attention.

“…Is your agency prepared for the spotlight? In this session, a diverse panel of commissioners will discuss how they are dealing with this new paradigm. Attendees will learn about ways to communicate with the public and the press…”[iv]

“Ways to communicate with the public”? “New paradigm”? “Well-funded”?

The only possible bright spot will be the concurrent sessions of the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates. However, their workshop on broadband has no one presenting on the RF health and environmental issues. That is a serious omission from an organization that claims to represent the public interest. NASUCA members are the offices in many states with the specific purpose of representing the public in proceedings, to be “ratepayer advocates”. In some states, their voice is louder than in others, and their willingness to take on issues differs. In California, the Office of Ratepayer Advocates intervenes and investigates, but has no legal power to dictate to the CPUC. It has saved Californians billions of dollars in proposed rate increases.

The Florida Public Service Commission was described in 2010 by former Chair Nancy Argenziano as a “fetid pit”.[v] Florida wants to retain a seat on the NARUC executive board, with Julie Brown nominated for President to replace Lisa Polak Edgar who is outgoing First Vice President. Integrity Florida issued “Power Play” in March, a report on the political corruption involving utilities in Florida.[vi] Their findings included revolving door jobs, cronyism, and anti-consumer regulations. In July, PSC Chair Ronald Brisé declined to hold a public hearing over gutting energy conservation goals for utility companies. [vii]

The stakes are high. For the utilities, there’s the prospect of big, guaranteed returns on investments in new plants. Those returns would come from the pockets of utility customers. They, according to economist Shawn LeMond, “are going to get hosed.”

The utilities said it’s cheaper for them now to produce a kilowatt of electricity than to save it…”People should be up in arms,” (The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s Susan) Glickman said, “that we’re ending energy-efficiency programs while we’re approving new power plants.”[viii]

PSC staff supports the utility companies, and commissioners are expected to “rubberstamp” the proposal when they return from San Francisco. Does Florida’s dominant representation on the board signal a “business as usual/all clear” for the industry?

NARUC members will also vote on resolutions.

These policy statements will then become the position of the regulatory commissions in the United States.

One of these resolutions to the EPA asserts that nuclear power is an important part of the “clean” energy mix. With ongoing Fukushima radiation hammering the nation, with nuclear waste unresolved, with more and more nuclear industry “facts” questioned and public safety issues and emergencies coming to light, this is irresponsible. However, it does protect the nuclear industry profits and market share. How many Americans know that their commissioners will be voting to endorse nuclear energy?

Here’s an example from 2013[ix], asking the EPA to be “flexible” on power plant emissions regulations. NARUC resolved that “(EPA) guidelines…shall not intrude on the States’ jurisdiction over decisions regarding integrated resource planning and/or resource adequacy or otherwise mandate specific modifications to the mix of fuels and resources in existing and future State generation portfolios” — in other words, let the state PUCs determine what’s working regardless of the impacts.

These policy statements do not represent many Americans. Commissioners did not get input from the public to advocate these positions to the federal government.

In a resolution adopted last year, NARUC said

  • The States are in a unique position to provide on-the-ground expertise and experience to resolve customer complaints and consumer issues;
  • The States should continue to serve as fact finders and, where appropriate under State statutes, adjudicators of issues affecting communications.

All very nicely said. However, the reality is far different. These NARUC words merely put lipstick, or rather a velvet glove, on an iron determination to retain power and control decisions at the state level. This is about retaining a lucrative partnership with industry. It has nothing to do with the public.

These commissioners will wine, dine, and discuss with industry reps this week. The industry officials who interact with these officials have titles such as Manager or Vice President for External Affairs, Regulatory Affairs, Legislative Affairs, State Government Affairs, Federal Affairs, and Industry/State Affairs. Lots of affairs indeed.

Commissioners inform themselves by consulting with the industry. They solicit almost no input from the public. It is simply not a priority.

These are not trivial issues.

The reliability and cost of utility service is at stake. For some, the cost is already too high, and people live without the basic necessity of electricity to their homes.

Public safety is at stake. Ask San Bruno, California how secure they feel about CPUC oversight or the people Erin Brockovich represented in Hinkley, California. Nuclear reactors built on earthquake faults or with serious design flaws across the country that are already leaking and causing birth defects – the potential for disaster created by these industry-facing commissioners and their staff is enormous.

The Florida report “Power Play” could have been written about NARUC as a whole.

NARUC is a “members only” club, and the public is not invited.

The public must take action.


Additional sources:


[ii] Final downloaded 11/16/14

Her presentation on Smart Meters in July is an example of their misrepresentation and misinformation.

[iv] 10:35 AM Are You Ready for Your Close-up?

The Clean Power Plan. Pipeline Safety. Ride-sharing services. Infrastructure Replacement. The issues pending before State utility commissions are hotter than ever before, and so is the spotlight. With States setting the pace on some of the most signifi cant challenges in the country, the focus on commission business is growing. National, well-funded stakeholder groups are intervening in State proceedings which, in turns, brings heightened media attention. Is your agency prepared for the spotlight? In this session, a diverse panel of commissioners will discuss how they are dealing with this new paradigm. Attendees will learn about ways to communicate with the public and the press, along with other kinds of challenges that may arise from this heightened attention. Are you ready for your close-up?


Buying in: How money controls Tallahassee; Watchdog report says power companies wield too much influence in Florida Legislature
Power Play: Political Influence of Florida’s Top Energy Corporations





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Canada: BC coalition calls for Energy Minister’s resignation over Itron Smart Meter failures, demands investigation

Nov 1, 2014
Posted by Citizens for Safe Technology:
Press Release from the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters, October 28, 2014, excerpts

” It’s time for a full independent investigation into BC Hydro’s smart meter program.

“There have been far more failures and fires associated with the Itron smart meter in BC than there have been in Saskatchewan, as found in official documents obtained through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. Yet BC Energy Minister Bill Bennett and the head of BC Hydro’s smart meter program, Greg Reimer, continue to deny any have occurred. Mr. Bennett has tried to mislead the public by saying that the brand of smart meters used in BC are not the same as used in Saskatchewan. While this is true, the fact remains that fires and meter failures have occurred in BC.” Sharon Noble, Director, Coalition to Stop Smart Meters believes this is not just a coincidence.

“It appears as if the government did not want any oversight at all from any agency that has the duty and responsibility to protect the public’s welfare. This lack of concern for the safety of the public is alarming.”

“A Fire Report was sent to the government in August by the Coalition, with examples taken from FOI documents of “failures” as well as fires that were not tracked officially. Noble believes it is ludicrous for the government to deny that fires and failures have occurred when Hydro itself has reports to the contrary.

“The Coalition believes that the lives and property of British Columbians are just as important as those of people living in Saskatchewan. It is time for the government to do the right thing and end this dangerous program until and unless it can be proven to be safe.”

Please send [this press release] to your local newspapers, radio stations, etc. People need to be demanding an independent investigation of the ITRON meter failures in BC. The government and Hydro, are denying the failures have occurred, despite their own records to the contrary. This is profound negligence. No politician is willing to stand up and draw attention to this, no government agency has any authority for oversight. It’s up to us to raise this to the level that the NDP in Saskatchewan did – and demand a full investigation.

SaskPower’s CEO resigns over dangerous smart meter program; should BC’s Bennett be next?

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Weslaco, Texas: $48,000 water bill; 30% of Smart Meter water bills are 10X – 1000X times higher than actual water use

From the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, 5 On Your Side reports

Weslaco Bills Resident $48,000 for Water Service
Sept. 11, 2014

WESLACO - A Weslaco resident says the city is billing her thousands of dollars for water service.

Lesvia Sepulveda said she received a bill for $48,000. She called 5 On Your Side for help.

Sepulveda said she doesn’t use much water. She won’t even water her backyard.

Her water bills usually stay in the $50 range.

She didn’t get billed this month, so she called the city.

“I told her, ‘how much is it?’ I want to know,” she said.

“She said, ‘well, you’re going to get scared. … It’s $48,000,’” Sepulveda said.

Sepulveda lives on a fixed income. She refused to pay.

“I told her, ‘hey, that’s too much. What’s the matter with you all? Did you send a blind man to check my meter, or what?’” Sepulveda said.

The problem, city officials said, is Weslaco’s smart meters.

“They’re adding additional digits to the reading – be it a zero, or two zeros or three zeros – making it seem that the reading itself is a lot higher than it is,” Weslaco Public Utilities Director David Salinas said.

Salinas said about 30 percent of the city’s 10,000 meters aren’t working properly.

While the meter manufacturer tries to find a solution, the city is working around the problem by physically reading meters and fixing the errors.

“You might get the bill a little late. They’re trying to catch all those before they go out,” Salinas said.

“They didn’t send me any notice,” Sepulveda said.

The city adjusted Sepulveda’s water bill. She will only pay $55, instead of $48,000.

To report problems with water bills in Weslaco, call 956-972-3113.


Posted under Fair Use Rules.

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SaskPower CEO Robert Watson resigns over Smart Meter controversy

From Citizens For Safe Technology, October 27, 2014:

Review said Crown utility didn’t adequately look after safety concerns


July 15, 2014  Smart meter installations on hold as SaskPower probes fires.
July 30, 2014 SaskPower to remove 105,000 smart meters following fires
July 31, 2014 SaskPower to remove 105,000 smart meters following fires
July 31, 2014 Smart meter recall cost balloons to $47 M, SaskPower says 
July 29, 2014 Saskatoon Light and Power sticking with smart meters August 6, 2014  SaskPower CEO apologizes for smart meters
August 11, 2014 10th “smart” meter fire hits home in Regina
August 15,2014 Sask. let “unqualified” workers install meters, NDP says
October 24, 2014 Trial period incidents should have halted smart meter program: NDP
October 27, 2014 SaskPowerCEO out after report: ‘consumer safety not a priority”
October 27, 2014 Smart meter safety not enough of a priority for SaskPower: Review
October 27, 2014 SaskPower CEO Watson resigns after release of scathing smart meter report / VIDEOS

SaskPower CEO Robert Watson has resigned following release of a report on the smart meter program.

“The potential for catastrophic meter failure was never identified as a possible risk.” CIC Smart Meter Review

Bill Boyd, the minister responsible for SaskPower, said Watson submitted his resignation on the weekend and it was accepted.

The smart meter review released Monday faulted the Crown corporation for not doing a better job looking after customer safety. During the summer, there were eight smart meter fires.

Watson was appointed to the top job at the provincially owned power utility in 2010 after six years as CEO at SaskTel, the government’s phone company.

He will not receive severance, said Bill Boyd, the minister responsible for SaskPower.  SaskPower sent out a press release Monday afternoon, stating it will be examining the review, and “take recommendations forward as planning for new smart meters continues in the next several years.”

“SaskPower employees are working hard to address the challenges faced with the smart meter program,” said Boyd in the release.

“This report provides valuable insight as to where gaps existed. We will be implementing changes accordingly over the next few days.”

SaskPower is the province’s biggest Crown corporation, with assets of $7 billion and revenues in 2012 of $1.8 billion.



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