Green Building Law Blog

Smarting Over Smart Meters

Earth2Tech ran two stories recently on backlash by customers against utility companies for unusually high electricity bills after smart meters were installed. 

In Bakersfield, California, a homeowner actually sued Pacific Gas and Electric on behalf of himself and a class of smart meter recipients:

The original plaintiff, Bakersfield resident Pete Flores, filed the suit after his electric bill tripled fro $200 to $600 a month — right after having a new smart meter installed in his home. Objecting that PG&E described the meter as a money-saving device, he decided to sue for fraudulent advertising, negligence and unjust enrichment

The complaint is available here.

The only evidence of the alleged fraudulent, negligent and unjust failure to accurtately measure Mr. Flores' electricity was an increase in his bills, with "no change in usage pattern on the part of Plantiff."  Complaint at 5.  Evidence of complaints of fellow class members comes from:

countless complaints on the internet, over 100 complaints to activist group TURN (The Utility Reform Network) and a special meeting led by State Assemblyman Dean Florez...

Complaint at 5.

After reading the Complaint, I have a few questions:

1.  What evidence is there that Mr. Flores did not change his usage patterns other than his electricity meter reading?

2. Is it possible, that, as compared to the meter maid stopping by and checking your traditional meter, a smart meter is actually accurately measuring electricity usage, and Mr. Flores was actually being poorly measured, BEFORE, not after the installation of smart meters? 

3. What is the misreading rate of meter maids? More than 100 complaints across the state of California for the same time period? 

Smart grid technology, and smart meters are grassroots level green building technologies which are likely to effect millions of homeowners nationwide.  It is likely that we will see more lawsuits like Mr. Flores'. 

Trackbacks (0) Links to blogs that reference this article Trackback URL
Comments (2) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Joshua Lehrer - March 23, 2010 4:33 PM

Smart meters are not guaranteed to lower your rates. Smart meters are supposed to help you adjust your usage to off peak times to help you lower your rate. If all of your usage is during peak time then your rate might go up.

Aren't they supposed to work that rather than paying 16c/kwh you can pay 12c during off peak and 20c during peak, and the meter will tell you if it is peak time or not. If you don't change your usage and all of your usage is/was during those times that are now 20c/kwh times, then your final bill will go up, not down.

Mr. Skinner - June 17, 2010 2:39 PM

The so-called "smart meters" are already causing a controversy in California, Texas and Connecticut, due to electric bills skyrocketing after connection of the new meters.

In Connecticut their Attorney General made the utility stop their planned rollout of 1.2 million "smart meters" and instead establish a small pilot program to test the meters and their results on electric bills.

Florida Power & Light (FPL) is in the middle of their planned rollout of over 4 million "smart meters" here in South Florida, so I have been in touch with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC)and you can email them at

I think our best bet in stopping the South Florida rollout of "smart meters" is to get Bill McCollum, Florida Attorney General, involved as quickly as possible. His tollfree
phone 866-966-7226. Maybe Attorney General McCollum could contact the Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal for information on how he was able to stop the rollout of "smart meters" in his state. (CT Dept of Public Utilities 800-382-4586).

I also have been in contact with the office of Florida Governor Charlie Crist (Governor's Hotline 850-488-4441) regarding the "smart meter" controversy. I also contacted J R Kelly, Florida Office of Public Counsel.

We must all step forward and let our voices be heard in opposition to "smart meters" BEFORE they are installed everywhere!

is a grassroots group of Florida citizens who do not want a "smart meter". We should be able to "opt out" and retain our current electric meter, but FP&L says SMART METERS ARE MANDATORY!!!

We'll see about that. If you are opposed to the "smart meter", contact the Florida Attorney General's office (866-966-7226)for starters, as well as the others listed above and let them know your concerns. Call today before it is too late. Once you have the "smart meter" there is no going back.


A class lawsuit may also be the way to go, but that would be after the fact of installation. I would like to see the rollout halted like in Connecticut.

Shari Shapiro, Esq., LEED AP
Suite 300, Liberty View, 457 Haddonfield Road, P.O. Box 5459
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002-2220,