Column by Loretta Redd
Well all it took was a slightly miffed note on my August bill- which I did pay in full- for me to feel as though I had initiated a Congressional investigation at Southern California Edison.
First, a company representative called and left a message on my cell phone asking if I would like to speak about my complaint. “Nice to follow up,” I thought, but I didn’t really want to make my post- smart meter increase into a major issue. So I called back and left a message simply stating that I found it dismaying that I would first be charged for keeping a service that had been in existence for a long time, and when I succumb to what felt like blackmail (the cost of ‘opting-out’ per month) my usage suddenly seemed to increase! I did not need to speak to a representative or take up more of their time.
However, they apparently didn’t feel they had been sufficiently thorough with their follow up, so in November, I received a lovely letter from Ms. Eva Weaver, a Review Manager with Southern California Edison (SCE.)
She was following up in writing on my “CPUC Informal Complaint 249308.”
Whoa, who would have thought one snarky little notation would result in such official concerns. But apparently I wasn’t alone, if the complaint number was indeed a serial count of all of the prior complaints. If that is true, then there were two hundred forty-nine thousand, three hundred seven previously disgruntled customers ! With that kind of volume, no wonder SCE had to hire a Review Manager…lovely though Ms Weaver was. Here’s a bit of her letter:
“Southern California Edison’s (SCE) Executive office is in receipt of your complaint, filed with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). As SCE’s Review Manager, I have been asked to address your concerns. You indicated in the voice mail you left for me that you do not feel the need to speak with SCE. As such, I am taking this opportunity to address your concerns in writing.
I reviewed your usage over the summer months and found it varies greatly within a 24-hour period. I am enclosing a copy of your graphical usage from August 10 to November 9, 2012 for your review. Because of this erratic usage pattern, I would like to have our meter at your residence tested for accuracy….”
It went on to say how I could arrange a test of my new smart meter, which I agreed to do. The three graphs are measured in ENG units, and look a bit like plotting a hyperactive flea on a bungee cord jump. Each month seems less consistent than the last…if you have a little time and graph paper, here are the plot points October 11 through November 9:
10-12-8-9-8-15-18-8-7-18-10-7-7-7-10-17-20-13-8-7-6-11-6-12-5-6-17-7-9-8-6 I TOLD you those cats of mine were having parties! On another months’ graph, the line spikes from 8 to 20, then a jump to 40…clearly those felines had every light in the house on !
But low and behold, when the meter man came by in early December to test my beloved by apparently ill smart meter, the comments on his hang tag were: “No Problem Found. meter accuracy good. you will be contacted w/further results. thank you! Jeff”
Dated December 11, I received an official letter from the Public Utilities Commission “consumer Affairs Branch representative, Jennifer Yeh, stating that “Based on review, CAB does not find Southern California Edison Company in violation of the rules or regulations of the Public Utilities Commission. Therefore, we sustain the position of Southern California Edison Company.
Please be advised that it is the consumer’s responsibility to cooperate with the utility to reach an issue resolution. According to Edison, your energy consumption data for both August and September indicated inconsistent high and low usages. Therefore, there is a need to schedule a meter test for any required correction. Please contact Ms. Eva Weaver, Edison’s Review Manager, at 1-626-301-0113, as soon as possible. Due to this circumstance, we are closing your case in our file…”
I suppose this mental midget, writing on State of California, Edmund G Brown, Jr, Governor stationery was unaware that our buddy Jeff had just finished a test of my smart meter, and found it working perfectly. I had to file an appeal with Ms. Yeh within fifteen days if I wanted to appeal. Of course, I don’t know what I would have appealed since I didn’t ever file an official complaint in the first place.
All I can tell you is my Edison bills from August for me and the cats are as follows:
January: $34.71…we’re moving in the right direction, but please don’t tell the SEC, I can’t take another unsolicited investigation!
And, by the way, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a 5% increase in rates for 2013. “This decision ensures that SCE is able to invest in smart energy systems, renewables and safety and reliability, while its ratepayers are protected,” PUC Commissioner Timothy Allen Simon said. “Protected” from what exactly, he didn’t say…but with all these smart meters and renewables, wouldn’t you sort of expect the rates to go DOWN? Good luck with that, California.