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Palo Alto sets the stage for 'smart meter' switch

Original post made on Jul 14, 2021

After eight years of wavering, debating and planning, Palo Alto is preparing to begin its switch to "smart meters," a $20 million move that city leaders believe will make utilities more efficient.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 14, 2021, 9:30 AM

Comments (15)

Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 14, 2021 at 11:48 am

Mondoman is a registered user.

You know we're not a boring place when the City wants to make plans specifically for ”eclectic-vehicle owners". :)
Maybe they are thinking of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2021 at 1:08 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

There's a great deal of information in this article, but the actual benefits to residents is unclear.

Is the only benefit being able to get up to date of usage?

I would like to see that they bring in cheaper overnight electricity. Half price power would enable dishwashers, laundry, and of course car charging, to be done at cheaper rates.

Posted by Rhodoreae
a resident of Ventura
on Jul 14, 2021 at 1:34 pm

Rhodoreae is a registered user.

I am a proud owner of an electric "eclectic-vehicle"!

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 14, 2021 at 1:34 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

At a party this weekend I was chatting with the president of a downtown condo association and he went on quite the diatribe against smart meters, how they'd drastically raised the condo's utility bills and how they fought with CPAU to get their "dumb" meters back. A huge rate drop followed,

Posted by Gennady Sheyner
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Jul 14, 2021 at 1:37 pm

Gennady Sheyner is a registered user.

Sorry for the eclectic typo and thanks for the catch. For better or worse, it's been fixed.

Posted by Pat Markevitch
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 14, 2021 at 2:11 pm

Pat Markevitch is a registered user.

20 million? That's outrageous. With all of the cuts the City has had to make (Police, Fire, Community Services, etc...) this seems to be an unnecessary expense.

Posted by Green Acres parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 14, 2021 at 4:45 pm

Green Acres parent is a registered user.

Smart meters could enable finer-grained reporting, including information about what time of day electricity / gas / water is used. They could also enable time-of-use plans. Finally, fine-grained water usage information could be used to automatically detect leaks.

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2021 at 4:48 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

We were living in Palo Alto in 2012, and I had no opinion on smart meters. Well, I do now. We couldn't be happier with our PG&E smart meter. Besides everything that is spelled out in the article, a smart meter leads to accurate billing instead of an estimate, which can lead to overbilling. If your bill goes up, it's because you're using more gas and electricity.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 15, 2021 at 2:39 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

I just heard a Dr. Joel Moskowitz of UC Berkeley on the Pat Thurston radio show today, 12-1, KGO-AM, San Francisco urge caution on SMART METERS for health reasons.
Stunning discussion, if he’s accurate, re:
cell phones, Bluetooth use, risk of brain cancer, variety of neorological risks; avoiding AirPods in favor of corded headphones, suggests turning wi-fi off at night and more.
KGO may put up a podcast of this (not sure, but many radio programs do the day after).
What about our pending Smart Meters!?

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 15, 2021 at 2:55 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

R. Joel Moscovitz of UC Berkeley has a website
Safety re: electromagnetic radiation safety is focus
Appears legit, serious
Comments, please

Posted by Resident11
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 15, 2021 at 2:57 pm

Resident11 is a registered user.

Finally! Palo Alto is in the dark ages when it comes to how we meter. We will finally be able to detect water leaks before the bill comes and price electricity properly. People, this will keep our costs down as well as help us to fight drought and climate change. This should not be remotely controversial. We are way behind on this.

I was wondering when the tin hat group would show up on the thread. Hello there Anonymous. If you really think that cell phones and wifi cause brain cancer there's probably not much I can say to convince you otherwise. But Web Link

Posted by Barron Park Denizen
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 15, 2021 at 6:23 pm

Barron Park Denizen is a registered user.

Phil Metz is a smart fellow. His repeated cautions about not having a concrete plan in place are sobering. Email the citizenry about the best times to use electricity and gas--that should cost close to zero. The cost and scarcity of water are already well appreciated. And don't confiscate people's gas service. And avoid hiring new, expensive employees to run all the smart new equipment.

This investment will never pay itself back. Put these funds toward reducing the pension deficit.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 15, 2021 at 6:45 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

Hilarious! I am not a tin hat person.
I merely stated that on KGO-AM a huge wattage, liberal San Francisco radio station with high national reputation they happened to have on a Ph.D. From UC Berkeley (Public Health area, I believe) TODAY on the Pat Thurston Show, discussing, among other things, updated news about concerns related to cell phones, smart meters, etc. Cited recent analysis of numerous studies. Sounded coherent to me and worth mentioning.
- For this, I get personally attacked.

Posted by Roger
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 16, 2021 at 6:44 pm

Roger is a registered user.

Can someone give me details on how smart meters actually help customers? My heater goes on and off as needed and I already know to to use a programmable thermostat and set it low. I already limit electricity use to what I need. I know to charge my car in the morning to use renewable energy before the heat of the day when use spikes. My drip irrigation is on a timer to run a short time in the morning. Will the smart meter shut off my gas, water, or electricity if the AI thinks I am using too much. This appears to be an excuse to go “high tech” with no real benefits. Anyone care to enlighten me?

Posted by Moctod
a resident of University South
on Jul 17, 2021 at 12:12 pm

Moctod is a registered user.

I have lived with the conversion to these so-called "smart meters" meters and our electric bills tripled. The only way they force you into using electric power when the wholesale rates are lower is by large increases in your rates when you are most likely to want to use that power. I also believe that PG&E uses a three tiered rate system that also doubles over a base usage rate. Also once they install one of these meters they will not allow you to convert back to an analog system.

Also, did you know that Palo Alto charges the biggest users of electricity, commercial users, the lowest rates? They are posted online. If you really want to get green, up their bills. The employees of our city will also not be bothered to change their times of power usage, as they do not pay for city utilities.

This all comes when the city of Palo Alto is transferring millions each year in electric revenues into the general fund without voter approval and I believe they have stopped issuing new residential building permits for homes that use gas. We have an all-electric heating system and turn it down at night. Cold winter days and early evenings are when we want to heat our home. I also do not want to start washing my clothes after 9:00 PM.

The CA Public Utilities Commission provides for an opt-out of these smart meters and continue with a flat rate. There is a one-time charge of $75 ($10 for lower income) and then a monthly rate of $10 ($5 for low income) and that monthly fee expires after three years:

Web Link

A trial run of “smart meters in Palo Alto ended in 2019. As I remember, there were numerous complaints from those that tried the program on a volunteer basis and who, I believed were more inclined to make the sacrifice. The rates were also nowhere near what PG&E charges.

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