SMUD claimed that the smart meter program would pay for itself in seven years. But in 2011 SMUD had already approved a $2.00 per customer per month increase in the System Infrastructure Fixed Charge for each year 2013 through 2017 inclusive, bringing the Charge up to $20 per customer per month in 2017.
The fine grey print on the back of the bill explains:
“The monthly charge covers the cost associated with the meter, wires, poles, transformers, and other equipment required to provide electric service, and operating expenses such as customer services and billing. The System Infrastructure Fixed Charge is billed in addition to the electricity usage and varies by rate category.”
SMUD had also approved an increase in electricity rates of 2.5% for 2014 and again in 2015.
This year (2015) SMUD just approved another two increases in electricity rates of 2.5% for 2016 and again in 2017.
That is five consecutive years of increasing the System Infrastructure Fixed Charge plus four consecutive years of increasing electricity rates. So much for smart electric meters saving us money.
Sacramento Smart Meter Awareness has asked the Board of Directors many times, in writing and verbally during regular meetings, to quantify the benefits to customers of the smart meter program. We asked them to quantify these customer benefits in terms of savings of money, time, and electricity. The Board has failed to even attempt it. Their only response has been qualitative descriptions of the benefits to SMUD such as “we can respond to power outages faster”. That is not a benefit to consumers as a whole and may not even be true. When the power goes out on a street you can bet that many customers on that street are on their phones calling SMUD to tell them that the power is out. SMUD does not need a smart meter on every home to find out about power outages.
On April 2, 2015 SMUD published a “CEO and General Manager’s Report and Recommendation on Rates and Services” in connection with the planned rate increase. You can find that on their website at:
You can also download the Report, all 3 volumes, here:
The author of this site sent many questions to SMUD about the proposed rate increase and the existing smart meter opt out fees. SMUD refused to answer many of those questions claiming they were not relevant. SMUD also gave misleading and incomplete answers to many of those questions.
The author of this site sent several recommendations to SMUD to be considered as alternatives to the proposed rate increase in the CEO and GM’s report. On June 17, 2015, the day before the scheduled meeting which was to include the hearing required by the Public Utilities Code, Municipal Utility District Act, the author sent a specific proposal to be considered at the hearing.
The relevant sections of the Public Utilities Code are found here. They are section 14401 through 14403.5.
The author’s June 17 recommendation can be downloaded here:
During the June 18, 2015 meeting SMUD held a hearing as required by section 14403 of the Public Utilities Code. The video of that hearing is here.
The author spoke during the hearing from 2:46 to 8:20 in this video.
The author’s regular public comments are from 10:29 to 13:33.
As required by SMUD ordinance 15-1, there was a court reporter present at the hearing to transcribe the hearing. At one point SMUD had the transcript of this hearing available on its website, but it took that transcript down months ago and has refused to put it back up on the website despite multiple requests in writing and at Board of Directors meetings.
The author’s proposal was for a larger rate increase than CEO and GM Arlen Orchard had proposed. The extra money was to be used to give a new analog electric meter to each customer who requests one after SMUD notifies its customers of the information in paragraph C) of my proposal via the means and channels on paragraph B) of my proposal.
Check out the nonsense from Board President Rob Kerth and the usual Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “pass the buck” defense by Director Bill Slaton.
You can download the transcript of the hearing here:
The author’s alternative recommendation is shown on pages 17 – 21.
On the date of that meeting but after the hearing had concluded the Board of Directors approved Resolution 15-06-08.
As you will see that Resolution “considered” three alternative recommendations that members of the public had submitted. These are in paragraphs 13 through 15 on pages 19 – 21. SMUD referred to them as “ALTERNATIVE RECOMMENDATION 1”, 2 and 3.
The Public Utilities Code, MUD Act, Section 14403.5 says:
At the hearing held pursuant to Section 14403, the board shall do both of the following:
(a) Permit any member of the public who has given 10 days advance written notice to present nonduplicative testimony on the proposed rate change or on any alternatives.
(b) Consider any report and recommendations submitted in writing by any member of the public on alternatives to the rate changes proposed by the general manager.
Conspicuously absent from Resolution 15-06-08 is any mention of the author’s alternative recommendation. Nowhere in this Resolution did the Board of Directors “consider” the author’s alternative recommendation.
A month later, at the July 16, 2015 meeting, the Board of Directors finally approved a resolution on the proposed rate increase. This was Resolution 15-07-06. Along with it was Attachment D, which was the rate schedules and so on that the Resolution referred to.
Unfortunately WordPress will not allow the author to upload Attachment D. It’s not essential to what this page is saying anyway.
Resolution 15-07-06, unlike Resolution 15-06-08, does mention the author’s alternative recommendation. It is on pages 21-22 under “Section 16. ALTERNATIVE RECOMMENDATION 4″.
The question is whether the Board of Directors did enough at the hearing to “consider” all of the alternative recommendations, in particular the author’s.
This was the question that the author asked two attorneys in October, 2015. To make a long story short the attorneys told the author that in their opinion the Empire had done enough that a court would say that they “considered” the alternative recommendations including the author’s. This is despite the lack of any mention of the 4th alternative recommendation in the Resolution approved on June 18, 2015.
That is where the issue rests today. It would be a lot of work to file a lawsuit over the Empire’s rate increase process. If the author believed that there was a strong factual and legal basis for such a suit and that it was likely to win the author would be willing to do it. However given the situation the author has decided not to. There is still the lawsuit over the Government Claims Act to do.