What does one do while waiting in a doctor’s office or waiting for x-rays to be taken? What many people do is read the magazines left in racks or on tables for customers to peruse while they wait. Hopefully the distractions of the magazine stories will offset the long waiting periods!
During just such a wait recently, the patients at the radiology suite waiting for x-rays, MRIs and CT Scans were not just reading the magazines however. They were busy ‘discussing’ an article in the Time magazine. This particular issue (January 10, 2011) contained an article on page 62, “Rage Against the Machine” which was about the installation of “Smart Meters” by the Pacific Gas & Electric company (PG&E). And the rage became evident in the waiting room.
The article mentioned specific people and their complaints that the machines were not accurate, that their bills skyrocketed as a result of the installation of smart meters. PG&E, of course, insists the meters are working correctly and are accurately reporting exact use of electricity and gas, the time of day used, and other pertinent details.
An independent research firm, according to the article, confirmed the accuracy of the meters. Their report also indicated the higher bills were due to increased rate hikes and increased usage during extreme weather. It was also discovered that the new meters also replaced some older ones that were malfunctioning and under charging customers.
Another customer complaint about the meters specified concern about the amount of radiation given off by these meters. PG&E and the research company measured the radiation levels to confirm that they give off the same or similar amounts of radiation that emanates from cell phones and microwaves.
It was interesting to hear the comments of the patients who began to discuss the article. At first it was just two people who were there together. The two people sitting directly opposite soon joined in, quickly followed by patients sitting on either side of the original two.
The general consensus of those who said they lived in the Towson/Timonium area was that utility companies are out of control and are using the “global warming” issue to do whatever they want with our rates, meters, and general services. Adamantly, they agreed the rate hikes are way too high! The younger couple from the far west side of Baltimore County, stated that their “planned development community representatives” had assured them at their last residents meeting that no changes were coming to their area regarding the meters and delivery of Baltimore Gas & Electric (BG&E) services. However, they had been introduced to two representatives from companies supplying electric to the area at a cheaper price than what BG&E charges. One company was even a “green” company who was creating the electric they provide to the area through a solar panel farm. They pointed out that BG&E does not make a profit on the electric they provide; their profits are made from the delivery of the product and the other services they provide.
While the “rage” in the room was anti-smart-meters and anti-rate hikes, it was interesting to hear how informed or uninformed various people are about their electric bills and the impact the production of electricity has on the environment. Several patients admitted that they were glad they had been part of the conversation, having learned something about BG&E and alternative electricity providers. They were looking forward to finding cheaper suppliers that would save them money on their monthly electric bills.