A townhall-style meeting October 5 will give you a chance to ask some tough questions about your power bills. People are sore about PG&E's smart meters, saying the devices have stung them with higher power bills.
Marsue Williams is hot under the collar as she sits with her air conditioning off and ceiling fan on, talking about her power bill.
"So it went to $633 in August. And I just said that's it," said Williams. Williams is among a growing number of consumers who say their bills have gone sky-high since a smart-meter was installed. "I think people basically, if they use something, they don't mind paying for it. But if they get gouged like we're getting gouged with these PG&E costs, that's ridiculous."
The meters are supposed to make it easier for PG&E to get readings, while allowing customers to save money by actively monitoring their usage. State Senator Dean Florez says he will hold a hearing and has invited PG&E, Southern California Edison, and members of the California Public Utilities Commission. "They should be holding this forum not me. They should be putting people together and telling them to bring their bills and answering their questions," said Florez, who is also the state senate majority leader.
Pacific Gas and Electric says it will have customer representatives on hand at Senator Florez's townhall meeting, but when asked why it took a townhall meeting for them to react to customer frustration, this was their response.
Jeff Smith, PG&E spokesman said, "We are absolutely committed to continually working with our customers and if they are concerned about their energy costs and we will absolutely work with them."
PG&E maintains the meters are not flawed. "We want to work with them, but the impact that the rate chages have had on their energy bills I believe is really what is driving their concerns about energy costs," added Smith.
Many Kern County residents maintain the culprit is the so-called "baseline" that determines the point at which customers are charged much higher rates per kilowatt hour. They say it's impossible to stay within the baseline, especially during Kern County's blazing hot summers.
The public hearing will be held Monday, October 5, at the County Board of Supervisors chambers on Truxtun Avenue. It begins at 8pm.