Last night’s Irvine City Council meeting was extremely interesting even though there were fewer “Smart” Meter speakers than at the 10/25/11 City Council meeting. It was interesting because of a question Councilmember Larry Agran posed to Southern California Edison representative, Steve Nelson, after Mr. Nelson had given a short presentation on Edison’s “Smart” Meter program. Councilmember Agran was talking about the issue of residents who were now requesting that their analog meters be switched back because they hadn’t been properly noticed, or had come home to find that Edison had installed the Smart Meters even though they had requested they be placed on the delay list.
“I cannot believe,” Councilmember Agran said to Mr. Nelson, “the CPUC prohibits you from accomodating those customers who you profess to want to serve?”
Right at that moment, however, another councilmember spoke up to say this was not an “agendized” item, so the answer to Agran’s question of whether the CPUC is “prohibiting” “the big powerful Southern California Edison company” (Mr. Agran’s words) from doing the right thing was left hanging. . . .
Just prior to this, the Edison rep gave a short presentation which was very similar to the speech that Mrs. Buttress, another Edison representative, had given at the Tustin meeting on 11/1/11, so verbatim that I was able to write down the “79,000 cars off the road” analogy he was using to describe the potential savings from the Smart Meters (but which is actually due to a behavioral modification program and not to anything inherently “green” about Smart Meters) before it came out of the Edison rep’s mouth.
The discussion between Councilmember Agran and the Edison rep was so interesting, I transcribed it (see below). (The Smart Meters discussion in full starts at around 2:59 if you view the tape)
Irvine City Council Meeting, 11/8/11 (Discussion Between Councilmember Agran and Southern California Representative)
Councilmember Larry Agran: I just want to understand this a little bit.
If somebody got on the opt out list in time–they didn’t have the smart meter installed- the delay list. . . . If they didn’t and apparently you have to do this seven days in advance or you get (according to one testimonial here)- if you didn’t do it seven days in advance, you’re stuck. Do you know that to be true?
Edison Representative (walking back to the podium): “Councilman Agran, that’s correct. Once the meter’s installed, once the contractor installs the meter, then the meter is left in place.
Councilmember Agran: And so at that point you can just call and ask to be put on a removal list pending action by the CPUC?
Edison Rep: That’s correct. If I had a smart meter on my house and I called in–then the meter would stay on my house, but there are active negotiations taking place right now between the utilities and the State of California and the Public Utilities Commission on this very matter. So we’re all about customer choice and any time there’s a hearing, we’re there participating and should an opt out choice become available, then we would work with the customers on those lists to honor their choice.
Councilmember Agran: Mayor, I know this isn’t an agenda item—and therefore I don’t want to prolong this, but it does seem to me the big powerful Southern California Edison company ought to figure out a way to accommodate customers who got caught up in this and want these, so called, Smart Meters removed. I don’t buy the argument about the CPUC. You’re not prohibited by them from doing the right thing, are you?
Edison Rep: This is a statewide program and there are certain protocols that the CPUC has implemented, and that’s the way the system works.
Councilmember Agran: Without having researched it–I’ll bet the CPUC has not prohibited you from going back and removing those where there is a meritorious case that somebody didn’t get properly informed or whatever.
I cannot believe the CPUC prohibits you from accommodating those customers who you profess to want to serve?
Edison Rep: We do serve them, and I understand your position.
Councilmember Agran: Well, my point is—
Councilmember Lalloway: Mr. Mayor, I’m sorry. This is not an agendized item. We’re now into the discussion of this. If we’re all going to discuss this, I think we need an emergency motion.
Mayor Kang: —I realized that
Councilmember Agran: Well, maybe we should put it on the agenda for the next meeting to have a thorough discussion—
Councilmember Lalloway: I would support that.
(Mayor Kang then requested of the Edison rep. that SCE, in the meantime, contact the people who had spoken at the prior council meeting; the City would provide the contact info)