Environment & Science

PG&E's 'smart meters' experiencing dumb problems; Edison says it won't happen in Southland

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An investor-owned utility in Northern California has discovered that some of its new electronic "smart meters" don’t quite measure up. KPCC's Molly Peterson reports.

Some customers of Pacific Gas and Electric have complained that their energy bills are higher after they got digital meters. The so-called “smart meters” remotely transmit data to the utility and do away with traditional meter readers.

PG&E has installed more than 5 million meters in homes and businesses; the utility admits that more than 43,000 of them don’t work right. Now state energy regulators investigating the problem have ordered PG&E to make public years of trouble reports for smart meters.

The reports show that the company has found faulty parts in thousands of pieces of equipment sent back to several manufacturers. PG&E says it's keeping good watch on the issues now – and that 99 percent of meters appear to work fine.

Southern California Edison has begun to install smart meters; it hopes to switch on over 5 million within two years. Edison officials say the utility’s working on lab and field tests with that new equipment to keep not-so-smart meters from surfacing in the Southland.