Matthew Lickona 2:45 p.m., Dec. 10
SDG&E Gets CPUC Rejection of Minimal Third-Party Smart Meter Audit Standards
California's Public Utilities Commission has rejected the Certichron, Inc. petition P1007015 for CPUC to adopt minimum standards for smart meter vendors to create records that are admissible as evidence in state and federal court systems. San Diego Gas and Electric Company and Southern California Edison component Southern California Gas Company jointly opposed the petition as not properly formed for consideration by CPUC, and CPUC agreed with the investor owned utilities. Both SCG and SDG&E are CPUC-regulated investor owned utilities that are owned by San Diego-based Sempra Energy (SRE).
Certichron initially sought to have CPUC adopt standards to improve consumer trust in smart reader systems, especially as to transaction records in plain text for easy reading by comsumers. Currently, no standards or laws require utilities to provide an audit record of electricity usage from smart meter operation. The utilities claim that customers will have smart reader summaries on their monthly power bills, but there is already considerable confusion among SDG&E customers as to what exactly they are being billed for now, while smart meters are still being installed to replace the older analog power meters.
If SDG&E is successful in gaining approval for PeakShift at Work/ PeakShift at Home (PSW/PSH) dymanic rate hikes over small business and residential customers (A1007009), reliance on proper readings from smart meters will become crucial as to when power is actually used by customers. Peak rates may be set up to ten times higher than off-peak rates, and customers may dispute billings that are not supported by an audit list of transactions consisting of timestamped reports from smart meters in the field. SDG&E executives have already disclosed that an objective of smart grid implementation will be the control of consumers' appliances, but SDG&E offers that this will be only during periods when SDG&E determines that consumer conservation is required.
SDG&E written testimony in the A1007009 application proceeding so far shows that SDG&E expects not to have enough electricity for all customers at any time in the future during standard business hours. For this reason, SDG&E's proposed PSW/PSH rates are intended to send small business and residential customers a high price signal to adjust their usage to evening and weekend hours. The City of San Diego and other intervening parties are opposed to PSW/PSH because SDG&E has not provided empirical evidence supporting the rate hikes or that the rate hikes are beneficial to SDG&E power customers regardless of SDG&E's priority for offering service to them.