Horror Stories: Smart Meter Consumers Anger Grows Over Higher Utility Bills

It’s important to note that the smart meter can’t lie! Any fool can turn on a 10watt light bulb for an hour and see the results on the meter. So the new meter could be arcing or it was the analog meter that was at fault and that was under billing, so when you get hit with that $1000 monthly bill, it’s for real. I’m not sure how the people below don’t know this but it seems obvious to me.

And Problems with Accuracy and Unacceptable Customer Response Standards & Practices.

Why are consumers reporting dramatically higher utility bills after smart meters are installed?
Higher than normal utility bills and overbilling due to “inaccurate” smart meters have lead to lawsuits, including two class-action lawsuits in Bakersfield, CA, and Texas. As you read the news reports and complaints below, you’ll be alarmed to learn that even though consumers are shifting their energy use, reducing energy consumption and making their homes more energy efficient, their utility bills have suddenly doubled or tripled. You’ll be saddened to hear the tragic stories of families who can’t meet these new higher bills and must choose between either feeding their kids or paying the utility bills, or are resorting to ice-age living, turning off the heat and resorting to candles.  You’ll also be angry to learn how the current billing, customer service and field accuracy testing standards and practices are inadequate and failing consumers.  They are grossly unacceptable, and affecting consumers’ quality of life.  Our families and seniors are already stressed and burdened trying to survive and manage in today’s hard-pressed economic times.This recent New York Times articles includes a consumer story about an average fixed-income family that has reported extremely higher bills after the wireless smart meter was installed, and their complaint story echoes those being reported by consumers around the world reporting billing and accuracy problems from their smart meters.
Sgt. John Robertson 2nd, an Army mechanic at nearby Fort Hood, is fuming about the so-called smart electric meter his local utility has installed on the side of his tidy, 1,800-square-foot home. Like thousands of consumers with the new meters around the country, Sergeant Robertson suspects the device is not as smart as advertised.In his case, he says it is inaccurately measuring his family’s power use and driving up his bills — some months by as much as 50 percent, to as high as $320 — since it was installed in December. This, he said, is despite his efforts to cut back on energy use.“I’ve done two tours in Iraq, and when I come home I’m getting ripped off by my electric meter,” said Sergeant Robertson, who with his wife, Kim, is raising four children on a tight budget.

…In Maryland earlier this year, state regulators, aware of the discontent around the country, temporarily blocked a utility’s smart-meter proposal, citing inadequate planning and the potential cost to consumers.
In California, Michael Kelly, a lawyer handling a class-action suit against the state’s dominant utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, over billing disputes, said the problems probably had less to do with faulty devices and more to do with a hasty rollout. Old billing systems were merged with the new smart-meter technology, he said, too frequently resulting in erroneous charges.“We’re just saying we want an evaluation done and that we want anyone who was overcharged to get their money back,” Mr. Kelly said.…On Wednesday, with Mr. Berent as their lawyer, the Robertsons filed a civil court petition seeking information on faulty devices in their service area. The filing is a precursor to a suit against the device’s manufacturer, Landis+Gyr.A Landis+Gyr spokesman said the company would not comment on a matter related to litigation.Chris Schein, a spokesman for Oncor, the company that installed the Robertsons’ smart meter, said a prolonged and unusual cold snap last winter, when the new meters were being introduced, had caused residents to use more power than normal. That, Mr. Schein said, contributed to what some consumers might have perceived as problems with the new meters.…The Robertsons are not satisfied by the official explanations.They noted that their old meter measured 829 kilowatt-hours of electricity use in for their August-September billing cycle last year. For the comparable period this year, they say, the smart meter counted a more than threefold increase, to 2,772 kilowatt-hours — despite the Robertson’s efforts to reduce their energy use by cutting back on air-conditioning and switching to energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs.“If they would tell me something that made sense, I’d be fine with it,” Mrs. Robertson said. “But I haven’t heard anything from anyone that makes any sense.”

Source: New York Times: “‘Smart’ Meters Draw Complaints of Inaccuracy,” November 12, 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/13/business/13meter.html
In California, reporters and columnists began reporting consumers complaints about billing and accuracy problems as early as 2008, despite their efforts to reduce energy usage and make their house more energy efficient.

posted by thetruthhurts on Mar 26, 2008 at 03:27 PM
My house has had 2 bills over $600 in the roughly 8 months since they installed the new meter, we are extremely happy if our bill is in the neighborhood of $200-$300. We live in a 1400 sf. house in the Oleander area. It has been completely redone with new AC, new windows, new insulation, new roof, and new gas powered heater. This was all done before the new meter, and we don’t have a bunch of electronics running up the bill. We also don’t use the air conditioner or heater very much, 69 in the winter and 83 in the summer. The new meters are a complete scam, how can my house have bills as high as we do when my boss has a house off Stockdale Hwy. that is over 3500 sf. and his bill is constantly half of ours…it doesn’t make any sense. We have been in contact with PG&E (a complete joke), they sent out a technician out to see if our new meter was not reading properly. The technician didn’t ever know what he was doing, he had to restart his test at least 5 times and at the end said it seems to be working fine. After he said that he also informed us that he was new to these meters and there is nothing that can be done. I am completely frustrated…what is the consumer to do? Not pay your bill and live without gas and electricity?

posted by ImJustSayin on Mar 26, 2008 at 03:59 PM

I live in the Stockdale Area in a 2400 sf home. I also have an office that runs during the day behind my home. We use heat when we need heat, and air when we need air. We also have a pool. It is not unusal for me to do laundry during the day. I have always had a PG&E bill that runs about $400.00 per month. During the summer, the hottest time of the year my bill has gotten up to $800.00. In walks the smart meter. My bill has been consistantly between $800.00 and $900.00 every month. What is going to happen this summer? I’m just sayin……we’ve all been taken…..I’m just sayin

posted by mgian1218 on Aug 31, 2009 at 07:49 AM

Just another smart meter horror story to add to the list: In the 1st month after installation of PG&E’s new Smart Meter, my bill soared to 10 times it’s normal amount. I disputed, but they are holding firm – and before the matter has even been resolved, I received the following month bill – which takes my bill to 14 times it’s normal amount. I had to argue for 2 weeks before I could even get someone to schedule an appointment to look at my meter. Not that I trust PG&E to do the inspection, but what choice do I have at the moment. I am going to check in to the options listed in “No Holds Barred”. Great information. Thanks!

posted by RoundMan on Sep 1, 2009 at 01:22 PM

This NEW METER method shows them that you’re using power at what they call peak periods between 2pm and 7pm and they raise (double and triple?) the price for these prime times, all under the excuse of “conservation” and the need to teach you to use your appliances at different hours (which won’t help you at all if you work). Those hours are the busiest (cooking dinner and relaxing after work) and the hottest part of the day. Here in Bakersfield those temperatures are around 104 deg. to 117 deg. during the summer months. How can families shut down during those times and wait tell 7pm to cook and eat and do chores? PG$E claims to have had brownouts and blackouts because we use so much power during these “peak” times so it’s necessary to force you to pay more to learn new behavior.. Really? I would ask why PG$G doesn’t upgrade their systems to accommodate the rising population instead of feeding us their tripe about “environmental issues”? …This is just a way to make more money by simply changing me from a flat rate to a METERED RATE SYSTEM. This is just wrong and will hurt many people.

posted by KillAWatt on Mar 4, 2010 at 12:29 AM

I too have felt the sting of the PG&E $mart Meter (which SHOULD be spelled with a dollar sign). We actually moved out of our house before last summer to upgrade EVERYTHING to make it more energy efficient. We installed double paned windows, insulation, energy efficient kitchen appliances, brand new furnace with programmable thermostat set at 64, and even had our ducts cleaned. Things were going great with our usual small increase in bill and usage as it got a little colder.
When our bill DOUBLED from under $200 to over $400 between Nov and Dec, I was shocked! I’d never seen bills that high even back when we had NO insulation etc… I attributed it to more usage during the holidays and figured it would go back to normal in Jan when we went back to work and the house would be sitting quiet all day as usual. But in Jan, our bill continued to escalate even higher – even though we weren’t home except in the evenings! I thought “Maybe someone’s stealing energy from our wires!” so I walked around to check the meter and discovered our digital little friend had been installed. I contacted PG&E and they said that it had been installed in the last week of Nov (exactly marking the starting point of our drastic increase in alleged usage!) They claim there’s nothing wrong with the $mart meter (OF COURSE NOT! There’d only be something wrong with it if it were UNDER charging people).
So I thought it was higher because of something related to peak hours. I struggled to find what the peak hours were from the PG&E website (if they made that info too easy to find, people might actually save money!). So I contacted PG&E again only to learn that we were not being charged peak hours, but still being charged a flat rate, but that our increase in energy usage had put us into a higher Tier level where we’re getting charged a higher $ rate per kWh and Therm.
I complained to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) only to learn from PG&E that the CPUC was the ones who mandated that PG&E install these $mart Meters to upgrade the Grid. Apparently, a 3rd party is currently investigating the validity of the meters, which I’m sure will be found to be accurate. However, I don’t believe that a 3rd party is investigating the billing practices of PG&E. You’d think some of these California politicians who themselves have to pay electric bills at their homes would notice and complain! Why don’t they wake up and smell the gas!
Meanwhile, PG&E is making huge profits while its customers are confused and not sure why their bills are skyrocketing. Everyone I talk to with the new meters says their bills went up, but seem too lazy to do anything about it. Come summer with the air conditioners, I think everyone will really take notice.
I’m very concerned about our environment and want to do my part to conserve energy and save on my bill as well, but no matter what I do to keep usage down, it doesn’t seem to be reflected in my bill. It’s like I’m pressing the brakes and the car is only speeding up faster! It doesn’t make sense. Are we to just accept when they say “There’s nothing wrong with the $mart meter”? Maybe we should all call and tell them we think something’s wrong because we think we used MORE energy than the meter says and we’re getting undercharged. I bet they’d be right out to check out the meter.

SOURCE:  for the above customer complaints, read “PG&E smart meter follow up” from the “No Holds Barred” blog by columnist Lois Henry, on-line at: http://people.bakersfield.com/home/Blog/noholdsbarred/23789

The Utility Consumers’ Action Network (UCAN), a consumer group for utility ratepayers, has a forum for members to file complaints about their smart meters and excessive billing.  They have a long list of nightmare and horror stories, including bills that are three times higher than usual, terrible customer service and response, consumers who can’t afford these higher bills, other cutting back on usage but not seeing lower bills, and a grandma saying she’s not using the heater so her grandbabies are cold.   Here are just a few from February 2010 through mid-September 2010, just before the California Public Utilities Commission issued the results from its “independent” report studying the accuracy of the meters, which concluded that they’re accurate:

my bill tripled
On September 22nd, 2010 Anonymous (not verified) says:
we had a smart meter installed on 8/5, just recieved the bill for the billing cycle of 8/12 thru 9/10. my bill is over $800!! triple than the month before! i called pg&e and they told me first that it was due to the weather. I informed the lady that the weather was much cooler this summer, and she went thru all the dates and temps with me and which dates we had spikes in energy. I than asked the lady to look at the weather for the same billing cycle last summer, and on average each day last summer was over 10 dagrees hotter!! I asked her how my bill could be this much higher than last years bill and she didn’t really have an awnser. I asked about having someone come out and check the meter and check our usage, and she told me pg&e hasn’t done that service in years. I would be happy to send in bills for help, where do i send them and how do i get help with this? there is no way we can afford 800! I want to join in any suit or fight against this outrage
PG&E Usage Increase
On September 13th, 2010 dmc (not verified) says:
How is it possible that my PG&E electric usage went up 600% from last year for the month of August? Thanks to those of you who have written in. I plan to follow some of the same proceedures you did. This situation is just wrong!

want to avoid smart meter installation

On August 27th, 2010 Anonymous (not verified) says:
I am worried about smart meter rate increases. How do I opt out of this meter installation.

reply
Opt out of Smart meters
On September 2nd, 2010 ucansue (UCAN consumer group staff member):
Yes, SDG&E is getting an increase for the smart meter installation, although it will turn into a rate credit in a few years as the savings from the installation materialize. SDG&E customers don’t have a legal option to decline the smart meters. Customers don’t own the meters and thus have no control over what kind of meter will be used. The only legal option you have is to disconnect from SDG&E and produce your own power.

My Bill is 3X higher since the smart meter was installed
On May 25th, 2010 Anonymous (not verified) says:

I’m so glad to find this page. I have called and complained about this issue several times and get NOWHERE with SDG&E. We had a smart meter installed and instantly our bill went from approx $150.00 per month to $400.00 per month. We were even cutting back on usage and still recieving astronomical bills. We have a small place and don’t have A/C. It doesn’t make sense! I asked SDG&E to come out and investigate and they refused. Instead they sent pamphlets on how to conserve energy. We wash in cold water, don’t use A/C or heaters. There was a segment on KUSI Turko Files last weekend but, they didn’t come to any resolve.

Smart Meter

On May 27th, 2010 JQ (not verified) says:
My Smart meter was installed for just two weeks on my last bill and my billing tripled that month. They are telling me that the prior meter was just slow or my consumption is up. My consumption is down and I was even out of town for a week of that billing. If this rings true for next month my average bill will go from $65 a month to $350 a month for a 800 square foot apartment where we are gone all day and most of the time on the weekends. It just seems like these smart meters were put on place to gouge us on the billing. SDG&E keeps telling me these are the most accurate meters possible. No way is my average billing for 3 years going to triple and cost more than a car payment. We can’t afford it!
 
reply
Re: Smart Meter
On June 1st, 2010 ucan josh says:
If you are an SDG&E customer, fill out our complaint form and sign up for our Meter Watch project. Data like yours will help us keep SDG&E accountable.
SDG&E outrageous bills
On March 21st, 2010 Anonymous (not verified) says:
I have lived in my home for over 25 years. I have a propane stove, heater and water heater. I have never EVER had a bill over $250 and that is with a jacuzzi on during winter months! Since the new “smart meter” has been installed my bills have been almost $600 a month! I cannot afford to keep doing this! I do not even use the heater and my grandbabies are COLD! This is ridiculous! Someone please tell me what I can do???!!!

Usage Spike Since Smart meter installed

On April 5th, 2010 Dana Troutman (not verified) says:
We recently had our smart meter installed and the very first bill was 2.5x time our normal bill and usage, our second bill is now 3x higher. Granted there can be some variables but this is ridiculous it was the highest electric bill I have received since moving into my house almost 12 yrs ago. That when we had turned off our gas heating and had reduced our usage. Our neighbors had there’s installed a month before us and there usage jumped almost 2x also.
What is our recourse. SDG&E just said these are newer meters and more accurate than the old ones. I find that line hard to believe since I doubt they would go several years with inaccurate meters install cutting their profits in half or to a thirds of what it should be.
Please let me know who I can go to for some recourse?
Are there any class actions in process?

New Meter and outrageous bill

On February 27th, 2010 Ramona (not verified) says:
My bill for December and January was $66 and $72 and that is what it runs normally throughout the year with the exception of the summer months when we are running the airconditioner and then it is $150 tto $250. A new smart meter was install on presidents day February 12 and the bill I got on Wednesday was $499.18, today 2/27/2010 I got another bill and it is is $542.18. It says the meter was read 2/11/2010 and again 2/17/2010. I called and was told that this is for electric service that was not properly billed from past months. I just do not understand how this is possible. Anyone have any ideas?

smart meter error

On February 26th, 2010 jlo (not verified) says:
I want to thank those of you who posted suggestions regarding these new “smart” meters. I too have had increased usage amounts, I’d say around 15%. I have been keeping a log of all our electric usage. I also purchased a P3 “kill-watt meter.” It works great. I can see the discrepancy in readings right away. I am now going to turn breakers off and try and isolate the main appliance, my refrigerator, and compare the readings exactly…this should prove it beyond any doubt.
You can also do this statistically by looking at your historical data that is provided by SDGE. Compare your previous usage to what it is now with the new meter (you will need a few months of data to compare them).
I have contacted SDGE regarding this and they will be contacting me (they won’t do an enegy audit, but they should review their meter errors).
Someone asked about a class action lawsuit. I am not going to wait. If I am not satisfied with their response I will sue them in small claims. The data should be evidence enough, however the court may require some “professional” witness as to the discrepancies. We shall see.
Does anyone know if these smart meters can be controlled remotely? I’m wondering if they can adjust the meter remotely without having to make a home visit.
jlo
I hate the Smart Meter
On February 18th, 2010 Yvette (not verified) says:

I just got my bill after the “Smart Meter” was installed. My bill was +550% for electricity. My average bill was $80 before the meter and this new bill was $320. When I called SDG&E they gave me the run around and defended their new system sating it must have been something I did. I feel like they are theives right now and I am forced to either pay or go without. This is so wrong.

Source: For these consumer complaints above, and more, visit the Utility Consumers’ Action Network on-line Forum for “SDG&E billing disputes or complaints about SDG&E smart meters,” found on-line at: http://www.ucan.org/forum/forums/energy/sdg_e_disputes/billing_dispute