Two hundred people turned out Thursday in Santa Rosa to rail against PG&E SmartMeters, complaining that individual opt-out fees are unfair, that cities should be able to get out of the program and that the wireless technology is a health threat.
Sonoma County government this week could take its most significant step yet toward becoming a power provider for homes and businesses. The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday is set to consider creation of a separate agency, known as a joint-powers authority, to administer the power program.
Santa Rosa has settled for $335,000 a lawsuit brought by the family of a 20-year-old Santa Rosa Junior College student struck and killed in a darkened Santa Rosa Avenue crosswalk in 2009. The case raised questions about the safety of the city’s streetlight reduction program and whether the city does enough to detect inoperable streetlights.
Santa Rosa agreed to a settlement with PG&E on Tuesday over hundreds of customers who weren’t billed properly for local utility taxes. The City Council accepted a one-time payment from the utility of $145,480 to resolve the matter, which arose after new billing software more accurately identified which customers were located inside city limits.
Pacific Gas & Electric Company underpaid the City of Santa Rosa nearly $68,000 last year by failing to collect taxes from some customers’ accounts and improperly collecting them from others.
The glitch, discovered after the utility rolled out a billing system upgrade, has taken more than a year and a half to sort out, with a settlement deal heading to the City Council Tuesday.
How long the problem has persisted is a mystery, but PG&E now thinks it’s got everything straightened out.
‘We believe at this point that our records are 100 percent accurate,’ said Brittany McKannay, spokeswoman for PG&E.
A plan to form a public agency to provide electric power in Sonoma County, which is touted as a boon for renewable energy and the environment, was pitched Tuesday night to the Sebastopol City Council. The process, called Community Choice Aggregation, would create a power agency consisting of Sonoma County government, the county water agency and the nine cities. It is allowed under a 2002 state law that lets local governments buy energy on the wholesale market.
PG&E will continue to install SmartMeters in Sebastopol over the objections of city leaders, who had sought a delay until state regulators conclude hearings on new opt-out procedures. A PG&E spokesman on Thursday said delaying installation of gas and electric SmartMeters in Sebastopol would ‘disadvantage’ customers who want the devices. The City Council voted 5-0 on July 19 to ask PG&E not to install any more meters within city limits until the state Public Utilities Commission concludes hearings on how groups or communities could opt out of having the devices installed.
The Sebastopol City Council approved an emergency measure Thursday night asking PG&E to delay installation of SmartMeters in the city until state regulators conclude hearings on new opt-out procedures.
A state investigation says a former PG&E employee who used a false name to try to spy on activists in Sebastopol and elsewhere opposed to SmartMeters did not act alone but had support from senior managers.