The Bakersfield Effect 2.0: Will Smart Meter Opposition Metastisize?

You knew this would happen didn’t you?

Smart meter opponents are going online to spread the word about protest opportunities, keep their members revved up and add pressure to politicians and regulators.  I have not noticed this much until recently but now here in the San Francisco Bay area there seem to be a host of such sites bubbling up from the Bakersfield Effect.

The trade press is trying to keep up with stories and insights about the lessons learned from the early experience at PG&E, Oncor, Baltimore Gas & Electric and elsewhere, but the opponents have a limited window of opportunity to ‘raise hell’ sufficiently to change the smart meter installation trajectory.  So far they are getting headlines and embarrassing politicians already scared in this election year to make life difficult.  But is seems unlikely that this will be enough to stop the forward advance of smart meters.

I’ve assembled a table with a few of these smart meter opponents’ online sites I’ve discovered but don’t pretend this to be an exhaustive list.  There are also some trade press and other references as well to offer some balance. If you know of others please tell us all with a comment about this post.

Smart Grid Opposition Headlines & Resources

California Public Utilities Commission

http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/Demand+Response/solicit.htm

http://search.ca.gov/search?output=xml_no_dtd&site=ca_cpuc&client=ca_cpuc&proxystylesheet=ca_cpuc&radio=local&q=smart+meters

TURN: The Utility Reform Network

http://www.turn.org/

PG&E Smart Meter Program

http://search.pge.com/query.html?qp=smart+meters&qp=

Oncor Smart Meter Program

http://www.txuelectricdelivery.com:8765/query.html

Baltimore Gas & Electric Smart Meter Program

http://www.bge.com/portal/site/bge/menuitem.e9410201300ca79ce38bb010426176a0/

Smart Grid News

http://www.smartgridnews.com/artman/publish/Technologies_Metering_News/Smart-Grid-Fallout-Lessons-to-Learn-from-PG-E-s-Smart-Meter-Lawsuit-1426.html

Stop Smart Meters

http://stopsmartmeters.wordpress.com/

Smart Grid  Industry Trade Press Site

http://smart-grid.tmcnet.com/news/2010/09/03/4990438.htm

EMF Safety Network

http://emfsafetynetwork.org/

EMF Petitions to Sign

http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=125

Smart Meter Comments Collected

http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?page_id=1223

Clean Skies

http://www.cleanskies.com/electric-grid

Smart Grid Cost Uncertainty

http://www.cleanskies.com/videos/future-smart-grid-uncertain-costly

BG&E Smart Grid opposition

http://www.cleanskies.com/articles/bge-smart-meter-plan-meets-opposition

The Spec.com

http://www.thespec.com/news/ontario/article/256288–scrap-smart-meters-says-opposition

Antenna Search

http://www.antennasearch.com/

Ontario Canada Smart Meter Opposition

http://news.ca.msn.com/local/toronto/article.aspx?cp-documentid=25570599

So what?

The Bakersfield Effect was the unintended consequences of the installation of smart meters at the same time of high temperature events driving up demand, tiered pricing rate designs pushing customers into higher unit costs during peak summer periods and thus spiking bills, and CPUC approved utility rate increases all converging to spark a firestorm of customer anger and an equally angry response from embarrasses politicians and regulators.  This ignited a wildfire of  consumer complaints across PG&E’s service territory and actions by a handful of municipalities to stop smart meter installation.  That is has not spread from PG&E to SCE or SDG&E suggests this may be more about PG&E than smart meters.

The Bakersfield Effect 2.0 is the looming threat that organized opposition to smart meters and the sum of these impacts driving up utility bills will metastasize into wider opposition to rising utility costs.  TURN is the public interest intervener in utility rate cases in California and one consequence of a Bakersfield 2.0 movement might be to weaken TURN and fragment the interveners.  Whether the opposition gets organized and is sustainable beyond these isolated cases over time depends largely upon customer experience, the response of utilities and regulators to spiking utility bills and the strength of public perception that the smart grid cure may be worse than the disease.

Stay tuned