Comments: All your power are belong to us

And one other thing, P G & E is also installing somenew meters which are very computerized.

Critics of the nbew meters are saying that their rates have gone up significantly and that the meters are not calibrated correctly.

Well, wouldn't it be awful if the utility users in Califronia understood that large magnets attached to such meters can totally disrupt them?

Especially after reading how P G & E is wanting to save California citizens from being forced by awful local governments to set up their own localutilities.

Gee I just hope that the word about magnets vs. meters doesn't get out there!

Posted by Elise Mattu at March 5, 2010 11:19 PM

"PG&E is just worried that these risky public power agencies would end up costing taxpayers more money...."

PG&E is counting on the memory deficiency of the average voter. In truth, it's probably a safe bet. Nevertheless, I recall quite well the winter of 2000/2001. There occurred something they called an energy crisis. Electricity rates at the three major privately held utilities in California--PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric--more than doubled.

Meanwhile, rates at the publicly owned LADWP remained constant. Just a coincidence, I guess.

Posted by jm at March 6, 2010 01:41 AM

Frankly, I remain unconvinced by this whole "capitalism" thing.

Posted by Christopher at March 6, 2010 04:31 AM

I'm sure that part of this campaign will involve tea party antics, bought and paid for by the good folks at PG&E, with full coverage by the Fox News noise machine, and that this will become the new modus operandi for legislating a corporate agenda. America is so screwed.

Posted by ian at March 6, 2010 08:49 AM

'Nogoodniks', you hardly ever see that anymore, and it's such a great word . . .

Posted by Murfyn at March 6, 2010 10:09 AM

My electricity is supplied by one of those dreadful local government power companies that PG&E--with the best intentions in the world of course--is attempting warn people about.

Thanks to PG#E's thoughtful warning, I can see where I'm getting ripped off by governmental incompetence. Jeeze. The bill for my 2,400 sq ft, solely electrically heated house here in Eastern Washington runs a whopping $125 a month in winter, and as much as $20 in the summer. Sure, they give out free low-energy lightbulbs to any customer who wants them, but that's probably just bribery. And they respond promptly to the rare power outage. But...well, it's run by local government, and we all know government is bad.

All snark aside, anybody who opts for a private power company over one that's local government owned is just flushing money down the loo.

Posted by muldoon at March 6, 2010 11:45 AM

Thanks - we've always got some proposition sheenanigans out here in CA, and some of the ploys aren't easy to research.

Posted by Batocchio at March 6, 2010 03:23 PM

I live in PG&E country, and I got me a solar array when I re-roofed my house. And every time the electricity rates go up, I go, "Ka-ching, baby! bring 'em on!" At these rates, I will pay off my solar array way sooner than I budgeted when I put it on. In five more years, I break even, and it's gonna be nothing but free money coming from the sky. Everyone should have one. Seriously. Why should PG&E have all the fun? I'm gonna start heating my house with toasters put all over the floor when the rates go up again, I'm having so much fun at this. It's great!

Posted by Dr. Pablito at March 6, 2010 06:12 PM

I am an electrical engineer who lives in California.
PG&E's recently installed "smart" meters are much more accurate than the meters they replace. People whose bills go up have probably been underpaying for years. Some people's bills go down, becaus they have been overpaying for years; those people tend not to complain, so they're not much noticed.

Posted by joel hanes at March 7, 2010 02:13 AM

Has anyone asked Erin Brockovich about this?

Did the old PSE&G meters only underreport usage? If so, wouldn't PSE&G's management have adjusted rates to compensate for the shortfall? I just find it very hard to believe that they got consistently screwed. In an analogize vein, grocery store scanners always make mistakes FOR THE STORE. (I almost never catch a mistake that goes my way.) I can understand those types of problems never getting fixed, but not the other way around.

Posted by N E at March 7, 2010 01:32 PM

Did the old PSE&G meters only underreport usage?


It wasn't a computer algorithm thing; it was physics.

The old meter mechanism accurately reported a particular aspect of power consumption. That particular aspect does not accurately reflect the cost-to-power differences between different types of load. Some kinds of load are more expensive to power than the old meters would report; some kinds of load are less expensive to power than the old meters would report.

The new meters measure a different aspect of power, and that aspect is a better representation of the generation/transmission costs.

It's difficult to explain this correctly without resorting to calculus in complex variables.

Posted by joel hanes at March 7, 2010 06:27 PM

joel hanes

Ouch! Please don't resort to calculus in complex variables! I surrender!

Posted by N E at March 7, 2010 07:02 PM

well, if it is too complicated for us simpletons to understand, we will just have to trust the power companies to get it right.

Anybody got a problem with that?

Posted by Susan at March 8, 2010 12:12 AM

Indeed, using complex variables would only impede the discussion.

Posted by john at March 8, 2010 09:28 AM

Actually, Joel Hanes, I'd be glad to hear about complex variables - although I'm guessing you just mean phasors. Please explain!

Posted by Aaron Datesman at March 8, 2010 11:42 AM

Look, there's plenty of demonstrable PG&E bad behavior in the main post without presuming that a different way of determining power consumption must be an evil plot. PG&E could indeed be more accurately determining people's electricity usage and screwing them over on the unit charge. In fact, I would expect this, since it allows them to point to the validity of the former without addressing the latter.

although I'm guessing you just mean phasors.

Actually, I'm guessing he means "complex variables," not a simplified version of same from back when engineers didn't want to do actual math.

... Okay, fine, so phase vector methodology is often still legitimate for AC power systems. Now, if you'll excuse me, there's an angry mob of EE majors at my office door.

Posted by mds at March 11, 2010 12:42 PM