Dumb people screw up smart meters



Quick Take:  The two items below tell stories of electric power customers who received an enormous bill because what appears to have been a set up error, probably an erroneous multiplier being entered at the utility's computer.


One reader wrote me about a similar situation in New York. As a result of flooding from Sandy, four old meters were replaced with smart meters. The multipliers for two of them were incorrectly input by the utility. The result was over-billings of nearly $50,000 per month. It took months to get the problems sorted out.


One wonders how many times smart meters will be blamed for billing errors when we should be blaming dumb people instead.  - By Jesse Berst


When Pattie Ferguson opened her electric bill from Tishomingo County Electric Power Association it read $18,617 instead of the typical charge of about $800, as first recounted by the McClatchy-Tribune Regional News.


Investigation discovered that the amount was in fact correct. Ms. Ferguson had been under billed for about two-and-a-half years -- roughly the time at which the utility switched to smart meters.


The utility's billing system has been under scrutiny by the Public Service Commission for several months. In fact, the PSC had earlier the DeSoto County School District recover $900,000 for which they were overbilled, plus about $300,000 in accrued interest.


1,600 over-billed Californians

Meanwhile, Forbes reports that 1,600 California consumers paid for more electricity than they actually used due to flawed meters. The defective meters were primarily located in the cities of Antioch, Bakersfield, Fremont and Fresno in California’s Central Valley.  A second cluster was found in the Bay Area. The meters apparently malfunction when they get too hot.


Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.


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