Lawyer in PG&E Suit Says Smart Grid Providers Should Also Be Sued

Nov 18 2009 | 9:19am ET

California resident Peter Flores is suing Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) for false advertising, saying its smart meter technology, billed as a money saver, actually tripled his power bill from roughly $200 to $600 a month.

The suit names PG&E and Wellington Energy, which installed the smart meters, but Flores’ lawyer, Michael Kelly of Kirtland & Packard, LLP, says PG&E’s smart grid supplier companies – including meter maker Landis +Gyr and communications provider Silver Spring Networks – should also be sued.

PG&E rolled out its SmartMeter automated meter reading program in early 2007, starting in Bakersfield, where Flores lives.

PG&E has received so many complaints about overcharging since the introduction of the smart meter service it has had to establish an “answer center” at its Bakersfield office. Last month, more than 200 PG&E customers showed up at a public hearing claiming their meters were not working and their power charges were through the roof.

The suit charges PG&E with fraud, false advertising, unfair competition and negligence.

PG&E, for its part, denies there is any problem with its SmartMeter system and said it will hire an “independent party” to verify the meters’ accuracy.

State Senator Dean Florez, who called the hearing for the disgruntled PG&E customers, told reporters the suit did not come as a shock to him.

“PG&E’s case to the PUC for smart meters was so shot with bias against consumers that it doesn’t surprise me that PG&E is being taken to court,” said Florez.

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