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Summary:

On Monday afternoon in a press conference, PG&E apologized for not communicating as well as it could have with customers, released a 700 page report on smart meter data (by order of the state regulator) and said the utility had revamped its smart meter customer relationship program.

Utility PG&E has had a major customer relations headache, including a lawsuit and a lot of negative press, tied to its smart meter deployments. But on Monday afternoon in a press conference, PG&E apologized for not communicating as well as it could have with customers. The utility also released a 700-page report on smart meter data (by order of the state regulator) and said it had revamped its smart meter customer relationship program.

Helen Burt, senior vice president and Chief Customer Officer, PG&E, said in a press conference that the utility has added a dedicated call center to expedite calls about smart meters and has added 165 customer representatives to handle inbound smart meter questions. The utility has also revamped its smart meter installation program and welcome kit, and has been holding community outreach programs. In addition, PG&E has opened outlets in Oakland, Fresno and Bakersfield for customers to walk in and ask questions.

Burt explained that 99 percent of the smart meters have had no problems, while 3 percent of analog meters have proved to have inconsistencies. However, 1 percent of a total planned 5 million smart meters installed could result in 50,000 customers being impacted, acknowledged Burt. “This is not about statistics. . . I don’t believe we did a good job of seeing the world through the lens of the customer.”

In response to questions about a possible moratorium on the smart meter rollout, PG&E said it does not plan to stop installing smart meters. PG&E plans to put the 700 page report on its website later today and we’ll dig through that data when it’s available. (Update: Here’s a link to the detailed report).

Update: So far this is my most favorite slide from the PG&E data. Add a lot of jargon and jibberish together to equal “delighted customers:”

Image courtesy of Juverna Flickr Creative Commons.

For more information on smart meter consumer programs, check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

Making Smart Meters the Must-Have Gadget of the Year

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By Katie Fehrenbacher

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  1. Katie.

    Nice report but are you not curious about all the blacked out text on PG&E’s report to the PUC? Is this investigative journalism? The GigaOM must not be paying you enough to dig deeper into this issue. Please look at page 621 and please tell me why the Issue Summary Item number one is blank.

    Thank You.

    A concerned citizen of California

  2. Katie Fehrenbacher Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    Hi John, I actually finally just finished reading over the whole report as of Tuesday end of day. There are a considerable number of blacked out spots, and Im following up with them to see if I can learn more. Some I can make an educated guess on — info that the vendors say is proprietary (like cost of deploying the system) and some I think is consumer privacy stuff. Other spots at this point I have no idea.

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