Taken for a Ride: PG&E Destroys Functional Analog Meters


Some PG&E customers have been telling us that when they call to ‘opt out’ of the smart meter program, PG&E is saying “sorry we don’t have any analogs left.” PG&E is also justifying the high ‘opt out’ fees by claiming that it must buy brand new analog meters for these customers.

Yet PG&E- along with their contractors Wellington Energy– have removed about 9 million analog electric meters from homes throughout Northern California.  What happened to all these meters?  Our public utility wouldn’t dispose of reliable analogs that have safely measured electricity usage for over 80 years, while serious questions remain about the safety, accuracy, and durability of the new ‘smart’ meters- would they?

Indeed, under the approving gaze of the CPUC, it appears that PG&E has- over the past several years- destroyed millions of perfectly functional analog electric meters. According to the EMF Safety Network:

“The Division of Ratepayer Advocates asked PG&E to explain what they did with the analog meters after they removed them and installed Smart Meters.  PG&E  responded that although they could have gotten $1 each ($1 x millions of meters) but because the vendors wanted the meters “sorted, boxed, and palletized”, PG&E decided selling the meters was not cost-effective. Instead PG&E disposed of millions of analog meters for free to scrap metal recyclers.”

Recent testimony from PG&E’s Steve Phillips as part of the CPUC ‘opt out’ proceeding confirms that the utility is now backtracking, purchasing thousands of new analog meters to serve the growing demand from ‘opt out’ customers:

“When we first purchased back in February, our first batch of analog meters we paid $13. But we’re forecasting going forward …that cost is now $28.”

So maybe we’re just a bit slow, but here at Stop Smart Meters! we’re trying to wrap our heads around this latest revelation.  Are we to understand that despite problems related to fire safety, privacy, health damage, and mixed wireless signals leading to inaccurate bills, PG&E systematically removed and destroyed a significant part of the state’s utility infrastructure without a word from regulators?

How much would it have cost to simply store the analogs in one of PG&E’s existing facilities pending the outcome of investigations and the “opt out” proceeding?  What PG&E appears to be saying is “we were too lazy to box up the meters so we just smashed them.”

From PG&E’s perspective, the quicker they could destroy the analogs, the more secure their profitable, but reckless StupidMeter™ program would become.  However bad the problems became (and it’s hard to imagine a worse scenario than meters exploding and catching fire, and thousands of Californians reporting health damage from smart meters) PG&E could say that Californians are stuck with the new system because there simply were no analog meters available.

It’s not like PG&E didn’t know that there would be a demand for analog meters.  From 2010, there was widespread public resistance to the smart meter program.  The ‘smart’ thing would have been to hold on to these meters just in case.  Now it appears that did not happen, in spite of protests.  And PG&E now proposes to charge the public for mistakes made by its executives, who should have foreseen the demand for analogs and kept (at least some of) them in storage.

We’ve Been Taken for a Ride

This is not the first time that private corporations- acting as monopolies- have destroyed valuable public infrastructure in the name of profit and self-interest. Prior to the 1930’s the United States had one of the world’s most advanced light rail systems.   Even in sprawling Los Angeles, the Pacific Electric “Red Cars” moved millions of people quickly and conveniently between suburbs and downtown.  Such a system is today only a dream of city officials desperate to relieve congestion and reduce carbon emissions.  How did we lose such a valuable transportation system?

Starting in the 1930’s, General Motors joined Firestone, Chevron (then Standard Oil), and other auto-related corporations to form National City Lines, who bought up the streetcar companies and gradually dismantled them, replacing them with noisy, polluting, and unreliable buses and forcing people into car ownership.   Wonder why most places in America are impossible to get around except car?  It’s not by choice.  It’s by design.

GM and its partners were eventually convicted by the US Dept. of Justice for conspiracy to monopolize the local transportation field, and fined $5000.  To re-build these systems today would cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

The stack of streetcars at top left are awaiting destruction by fire- insurance that the car and bus dominated landscapes of today would not be threatened by a viable alternative.   The tragic tale is recounted in the excellent documentary Taken for a Ride, by Jim Klein and Martha Olson.  This is a must-see film with obvious parallels to our modern day corporate abuses.

The (firmly entrenched) ideology that the future is always an improvement on the past- that technological complexity is always a benefit to society, that progress requires the continuous pursuit of the exciting, new and shiny, even when the existing system simply works better- is an ideology that’s been pushed hard by corporations with products to sell.

The inconvenient truth is that America’s transportation network has grown more dangerous and less affordable, despite extensive public relations efforts by GM.  We are witnessing America’s utility system growing less reliable, less safe, and more expensive.  But that hardly seems to matter to those in power.  Utility corporations are making record profits and shareholders are happy.  The same cannot be said for the public.

The question that the smart meter debacle has raised with perhaps more fervor and relevance than ever before: is it in the public’s best interest for private, self-interested corporations to continue to be responsible for essential public services like gas, electricity, and water?  Or is there another alternative- with local areas responsible for providing their own services?

Will history repeat itself?  Will we allow millions more analogs- with years of useful life remaining- to be destroyed just as the streetcars were?  Or will we recognize the crime in progress- and take action to stop the degradation of our public infrastructure before it’s too late?

“The plan is to destroy public utilities, which you’ll find impractical to replace after you discover your mistake. Who are the corporations behind this? Why are they permitted to destroy valuable electric railways?”

-Edwin Quinby, in a warning to Americans in 1946


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14 Responses to Taken for a Ride: PG&E Destroys Functional Analog Meters

  1. Who killed the analog meter?

    Green Mountain Power has been tossing nearly new (3 years old) Elster analog meters with wireless modules and replacing them with new smart Elsters. With the exception of the ISM “drive by” modules, the existing electromechanical meters could have functioned for another 50 years, easily. The only possible reason for such a wasteful decision is if there was a lot of money to be made.

    Time of use billing + more accurate measuring of inrush currents and different power factors (CFLs, dimmers) = smart meters are cash cows for the utilities.

  2. cathy anderson says:

    What I don’t get about this whole thing is the obvious: if you can’t tamper with somebody’s mailbox without it being a federal offense, and it’s against the law to read someone else’s mail, or open it, why is it ok for them to read your “home” mail, your daily routine, who you sleep with, what movie you’re watching, how many sheets of toilet paper you use, the whole thing is ludicrous, and it is insulting to the American public to think we are so stupid that we are going to allow them to walk into our homes and basically take a picture of everything we do 24 hours a day. Despite their ongoing efforts which have already caused any number of “new” diseases out there on the market which they knew about, this is the last straw. We, the people, will fix this problem. We can, we have before, and we will continue to maintain freedom. It will take a lot of work, but it was the same way when we settled this country, a lot of people died, we’ ve just gotten lazy and lulled into an unnecessary American lifestyle where everyone else does our job. This is our job, and we need to do it.

    • Ronny Rat says:

      Right Cathy … & thanks to this website w/ALL the ‘input’ plus exposure, we’re
      working on it and quite sure the utilities are ‘watching’ us here, seeing the growing number of participants from virtually all around the globe realizing
      the increasing progress we are making whereby showing NO signs of ‘giving up’ til we WIN. Just maybe we can ‘ruin’ THEIR Christmas, TOO.

  3. Paul H says:

    The goal is to “chip” you, whether it’s a RFID chip or tattoo. Everywhere you go and everything you do will be monitored via electromagnetic fields collected by the network. The smart meter and it’s buddies (g3-plc) in the background using radiofrequencies from 2khz-2.4ghz will be working 24/7 to make sure you get the electromagnetic fields your body hates most. The smart grid is a smart web. Convenience is the selling point with all pros and no cons.

    People have been programmed to think wireless is safe. Whatever the media tells them they will accept. I have living proof and thousands of documents to show that in fact it is the opposite.

    Raytheon started the lie with confusing scientific studies stating that there was no biological effects from the “radar range” aka microwave. My great uncle worked in the microwave division and didn’t wear eye protection. Subsequently he went blind and died from unknown causes. Russia knew all about the effects back in the 50’s and required their scientists to wear protection. They knew about the problem and that’s why their limits are much lower than ours today. Microwave ovens were banned until the cold war was over. Magdahavas.com shows exactly what really happened.

  4. Lisa Moskow says:

    I wish there were a FB connection here.

    I use my FB account for politics.

  5. rhonda hoefs says:

    There’s more to it than is being said above. All the new analogs have the capability of functioning as SmartMeters as well. How many people go out and look at their meters to see what kind of function is occuring? And that aside, perhaps this indicates that the prime motive to put in these meters is not more money (they’ll always find a way to get that) or more efficient energy, or even tracking energy. It implies that there is another more important reason(s) for these meters and that could be surveillance or even to create a frequency that is conducive to mind control of some type, at least for experimentation. It is important to them that these meters can be easily switched over to digital meters when it suits them. The electrical companies know that these frequencies are making people ill and causing problems with sleep, etc. which is known to weaken the immune system. They know there are more extensive studies in Europe and other parts of the world which back this up. Notice that Obama hasn’t stepped in to demand that a program that is causing this problem be halted. This program has been planned on a much bigger level than the power companies who are executing them. The destruction of perfectly good analogs is just another criminal activity to add to the long list that PG&E and other power companies have committed. They won’t be prosecuted until the outcry becomes strong enough.

    • Ronny Rat says:

      Yes Rhonda … I concur! We, the people, CONTINUE to STAND on it!

    • Cynthia says:

      Exactly, the meters do not have to be wireless.

      The analogy with the street cars is a good one.
      I’m a traffic reporter. For nearly two decades I’ve been reporting freeway accidents for various stations in Southern California. I also drive them. You risk your life every time you get on the road, make no mistake—it’s a disaster. It’s also pathetic that when there were trolleys in this town, you could get anywhere —it was a real system of transportation for the people. Now you can’t even go from downtown to the beach. The Metro is awesome, but with very few destinations. For most folks it’s basically useless.

      I’m starting to honestly wonder if nearly two decades now of behavioral conditioning on computers —ie sitting in one place typing all day every day–is disabling people from acting in real three dimensional life.
      My other thought is that since the computer gives people an outlet for their frustrations via the comments sections, people get to blow off steam and don’t reach boiling point soon enough to tackle the various abuses that I’ve been seeing happen for my entire adult life.
      But god knows I’m grateful for this site.

      • rhonda hoefs says:

        Probably too late for you to see this, Cathy…but the answer to your last paragraph.. I’ve got a great book on shyness right now, and there has been more research that has come out since your comment about entrainment on computers, including the military development of “war games” that carried over into the gaming industry (training future soldiers, or preparing our youth to accept perpetual war)…chemtrails is another one where the public has been entrained to see them as natural and normal, a part of the environment via advertising and childrens’ books, for example….

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  8. rhonda hoefs says:

    Sorry…got your name wrong, Cynthia!

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