Best Story Ever

Man, this is the best story ever — “Want to Be Sent Home in Pieces?” (Cover Story, April 8). I give you guys a ten.

Dr. Greenthumb
via voicemail

Loved “Pieces”

I just read the article in the current Reader written by Laura McNeal, “Want to Be Sent Home in Pieces?” (Cover Story, April 8). It was absolutely magnificent. I have not read something of that quality in quite some time. I just wanted to leave a compliment for Ms. McNeal and let her know she did an outstanding job of writing that. It was lengthy but very comprehensive, and it kept my interest the entire way. Please give my kudos to Laura, and I hope everything goes well for you guys.

Richard North
Logan Heights

Why We Keep Reading

Outstanding article by Laura McNeal, “Want to Be Sent Home in Pieces?” That’s why I keep reading the Reader. That’s one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time. It was almost as if I were reading an adventure — a historical one. It was so good. That’s why we keep reading the Reader.

Name Withheld
Mission Beach

Grasp This

Re “Sly Smart-Meter Swap-Out,” “City Lights,” April 8. The piece begins with the resident, Chris Faust, questioning the SDG&E employee about a gas meter swap, but the remainder of the piece and accompanying photos refer to electric meters. I’m no fan of SDG&E, but apparently their spokesperson, April Bolduc, is somewhat right when she states, “Factual information doesn’t make it into articles.”

I believe the current program of meter swapping is for upgraded versions of gas meters that have RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips, allowing readers to scan meters without going on your property. That’s probably a good thing for all parties.

But what I’d really like to say is that the only real “smart meter” is one that spins backwards, measuring the excess current that you are producing and sending to the grid. If Mr. Faust’s bulls* radar were truly calibrated, he’d be spinning his meter backwards like me and selling his power to his neighbors (the grid). If we were all smart, we would make SDG&E put rooftop photovoltaic systems on all our houses with the money they plan to spend on the Sunrise Powerlink.

See, here’s what Mr. Faust and his fellow ratepayers — and citizens in general — don’t seem to grasp. SDG&E is forced to embrace renewable energy. So that being the case, they have decided it is better for them, rather than for Mr. Faust, to own it. Better to sell it to Mr. Faust and have him pay for the hideously ugly and expensive — not to mention environment impacting — distribution infrastructure required to bring their power to their meter. Like Mr. Faust, I also am in my 60s.

Finally I understand the true meaning of that ’60s cry, “Power to the people.”

Tom Summers
Imperial Beach

Moss Gropen responds: My article didn’t state that Chris Faust’s experience was specifically about a gas meter swap-out. Rather, I wrote that the absence of a gas leak was one of the reasons that Faust questioned the need for an SDG&E routine maintenance visit. Although it is my understanding that SDG&E is replacing all meters — both gas and electric — with the new smart meters, it wasn’t my intent to focus on the technical aspects of the swap-out process; instead, I endeavored to report on some San Diegans’ criticism of SDG&E’s way of doing business.

Happy Hour Benefits

I read this article with interest (“Sly Smart-Meter Swap-Out,” “City Lights,” April 8) because I am one of the people that want to get a smart meter, and I have been on a time-of-use rate (DR-TOU) for a few years now by choice. When I called SDG&E to inquire, they said that first they would send a letter of intent, then within two weeks the new meter would be installed. So I’m still waiting. Anyway, it is an interesting article, but I’m not sure about a meter change-out without some sort of advanced warning because it will cause a brief power outage.

I’m an information junkie, so I read my own meter to keep track of consumption because I have kids in the house that think that everything is free (much to my chagrin), so I walk out to the meter almost daily and check out what I use. On the TOU, the time not to use high-use appliances (dryers, air conditioners, heaters, etc.) is between 12:00 and 6:00 p.m., and that gives you a cheaper rate during the off-peak times. That can work to your favor if you switch the usage to before or after those times.

As I understand this smart-meter issue — and I have researched it extensively — it will give both the utility and us (the public) the ability to use energy more expeditiously because we will have online access to what we use. To me, that says that I can log on and see what my usage is right now and do things to reduce my instantaneous consumption. The fly in the ointment is that most people simply don’t care and would never look and if they did look would not know what it meant. The utility probably will offer some training if asked, and there is a plethora of information at the California Center for Sustainable Energy for all who are interested.

The short answer is that it will help the utility to know what is happening on the micro level and to be able to predict better. It will probably reduce costs in the long run because they will be able to read the meters remotely and switch meter readers to other duties. It will help us because we will be able to look at our consumption in real time and make better decisions in real time. Kind of like going out to a restaurant during happy hour because that’s when the alcohol is the cheapest and the hors d’oeuvres are a couple of bucks off. It’s not quite that easy, but hopefully it can lead to a more rational use of energy.

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