Feeds

Pitchfork-wielding mobs encircle smart meters

'Fraud meter' fear

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

A push by California's electricity provider to modernize its power grid is turning into a public relations disaster, as allegations mount that it's responsible for stratospheric overcharges.

At issue are the 10 million smart meters Pacific Gas & Electric, or PG&E, is rolling out to customers throughout the state. The digital meters, unlike the analog devices they're replacing, provide two-way communications between electricity users and the power stations that serve them. That eliminates the need for meter readers to visit each customer to know how much power has been consumed.

It also turns the power grid into a computerized network that can provide real-time data operators can use to make their grids "smart," at least in theory. During periods of peak usage, for instance, the meters can automatically tell washing machines to stop running until power is more plentiful.

Over the past few months, PG&E's rollout has been preempted by complaints that the meters are wildly inaccurate. Most notably, a lawsuit filed on behalf of Bakersfield, California-based resident Pete Flores claimed his bills jumped from about $200 on average to $500 to $600, even though there was no change in his usage pattern.

The Utility Reform Network, a non-profit that advocates on behalf of power users, has received more than 100 smart-meter complaints, according to the lawsuit. California State Senator Dean Florez has also jumped on the bandwagon, telling one newspaper "They are fraud meters" and calling for a moratorium on their installation. Articles such as this one in which customers decry the unreliability of the new meters, is now a regular staple in state news feeds.

Michael Louis Kelly, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, said the problem is that there wasn't enough testing of the meters before they were installed.

"You're transmitting things wirelessly and you're relying upon computer interfaces to accurately transmit information that may or may not be happening," he told The Register. "If this was a weights and measures issue, every scale at Wholefoods, for example, is tested to make sure if you buy and ounce of something, it's an ounce."

High performance access to file storage

Next page: Hold on

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.