Best Story Ever

Man, this is the best story ever — “Want to Be Sent Home in Pieces?” (Cover Story, April 8). I give you guys a ten.

Dr. Greenthumb
via voicemail

Loved “Pieces”

I just read the article in the current Reader written by Laura McNeal, “Want to Be Sent Home in Pieces?” (Cover Story, April 8). It was absolutely magnificent. I have not read something of that quality in quite some time. I just wanted to leave a compliment for Ms. McNeal and let her know she did an outstanding job of writing that. It was lengthy but very comprehensive, and it kept my interest the entire way. Please give my kudos to Laura, and I hope everything goes well for you guys.

Richard North
Logan Heights

Why We Keep Reading

Outstanding article by Laura McNeal, “Want to Be Sent Home in Pieces?” That’s why I keep reading the Reader. That’s one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time. It was almost as if I were reading an adventure — a historical one. It was so good. That’s why we keep reading the Reader.

Name Withheld
Mission Beach

Grasp This

Re “Sly Smart-Meter Swap-Out,” “City Lights,” April 8. The piece begins with the resident, Chris Faust, questioning the SDG&E employee about a gas meter swap, but the remainder of the piece and accompanying photos refer to electric meters. I’m no fan of SDG&E, but apparently their spokesperson, April Bolduc, is somewhat right when she states, “Factual information doesn’t make it into articles.”

I believe the current program of meter swapping is for upgraded versions of gas meters that have RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips, allowing readers to scan meters without going on your property. That’s probably a good thing for all parties.

But what I’d really like to say is that the only real “smart meter” is one that spins backwards, measuring the excess current that you are producing and sending to the grid. If Mr. Faust’s bulls* radar were truly calibrated, he’d be spinning his meter backwards like me and selling his power to his neighbors (the grid). If we were all smart, we would make SDG&E put rooftop photovoltaic systems on all our houses with the money they plan to spend on the Sunrise Powerlink.

See, here’s what Mr. Faust and his fellow ratepayers — and citizens in general — don’t seem to grasp. SDG&E is forced to embrace renewable energy. So that being the case, they have decided it is better for them, rather than for Mr. Faust, to own it. Better to sell it to Mr. Faust and have him pay for the hideously ugly and expensive — not to mention environment impacting — distribution infrastructure required to bring their power to their meter. Like Mr. Faust, I also am in my 60s.

Finally I understand the true meaning of that ’60s cry, “Power to the people.”

Tom Summers
Imperial Beach

Moss Gropen responds: My article didn’t state that Chris Faust’s experience was specifically about a gas meter swap-out. Rather, I wrote that the absence of a gas leak was one of the reasons that Faust questioned the need for an SDG&E routine maintenance visit. Although it is my understanding that SDG&E is replacing all meters — both gas and electric — with the new smart meters, it wasn’t my intent to focus on the technical aspects of the swap-out process; instead, I endeavored to report on some San Diegans’ criticism of SDG&E’s way of doing business.

Happy Hour Benefits

I read this article with interest (“Sly Smart-Meter Swap-Out,” “City Lights,” April 8) because I am one of the people that want to get a smart meter, and I have been on a time-of-use rate (DR-TOU) for a few years now by choice. When I called SDG&E to inquire, they said that first they would send a letter of intent, then within two weeks the new meter would be installed. So I’m still waiting. Anyway, it is an interesting article, but I’m not sure about a meter change-out without some sort of advanced warning because it will cause a brief power outage.

I’m an information junkie, so I read my own meter to keep track of consumption because I have kids in the house that think that everything is free (much to my chagrin), so I walk out to the meter almost daily and check out what I use. On the TOU, the time not to use high-use appliances (dryers, air conditioners, heaters, etc.) is between 12:00 and 6:00 p.m., and that gives you a cheaper rate during the off-peak times. That can work to your favor if you switch the usage to before or after those times.

As I understand this smart-meter issue — and I have researched it extensively — it will give both the utility and us (the public) the ability to use energy more expeditiously because we will have online access to what we use. To me, that says that I can log on and see what my usage is right now and do things to reduce my instantaneous consumption. The fly in the ointment is that most people simply don’t care and would never look and if they did look would not know what it meant. The utility probably will offer some training if asked, and there is a plethora of information at the California Center for Sustainable Energy for all who are interested.

The short answer is that it will help the utility to know what is happening on the micro level and to be able to predict better. It will probably reduce costs in the long run because they will be able to read the meters remotely and switch meter readers to other duties. It will help us because we will be able to look at our consumption in real time and make better decisions in real time. Kind of like going out to a restaurant during happy hour because that’s when the alcohol is the cheapest and the hors d’oeuvres are a couple of bucks off. It’s not quite that easy, but hopefully it can lead to a more rational use of energy.

William Lekas
via email

End-User Frustration

I wish to respond to your article regarding right to access by SDG&E published in the Reader (“Sly Smart-Meter Swap-Out,” “City Lights,” April 8).

Your article at first glance was informative, to say the least, if not argumentative. I assume, based on the article in question, that SDG&E is the distribution and retail entity for the region.

As a new arrival to San Diego, I will not be drawn in to the argument of “we don’t do that in the U.S.,” as I have heard so many times since I arrived, but I will make comparative contrast to the point at hand.

Before arriving in the USA, I was employed with Ergon Energy in Australia as a meter reader. Like SDG&E, Ergon has two functions — retail and distribution. Although the network is under governance formally by NEMMCO (now AEMO), their governance is monitored, regulated, and follows the guidelines as amended, such as SDG&E under the California Public Utilities Commission. As employees of Ergon, we had the law and authority as the provider to access your premises within reasonable hours to read, inspect, and maintain assets (section 137).

Although, I totally understand the frustration that end-user experienced in this matter (being on the receiving end of abuse) for SDG&E being on private premises, the electricity meter and associated equipment are the sole property of the electricity entity, and their right to access to read, inspect, or replace is their legal right. Smart meters (demand meters) have been planned in the U.S. for at least ten years that I am aware of. Yes, we even hear of it in Australia!

On the basis of your article (not detailed), I am of the understanding that the meter in question was to be replaced with the new smart meter. If the meter was recorded as faulty, based on same-period accounting, then SDG&E has the right to service that meter. However, in regard to the reinstallation of the new demand meter, their action is deplorable, and I’ll quote from SDG&E’s own webpage at sdge.com/smartmeter/firststep.shtml:

“All SDG&E customers are getting smart meters; it’s not an optional upgrade.…

“SDG&E will notify you by mail a few weeks before your smart meter installation takes place. Either SDG&E or our authorized representative, VSI Meter Services, will be installing the smart meters.”

Based on their own statements above, then, yes, I can totally understand the argument that no notification was given (based on your article).

Name Withheld by Request
via email

Flight 93 Fanatic

Re “For Deora” (“Blurt,” April 8).

How can I get a copy of her music? I am a Flight 93 fanatic.

David Kaplan
via email

Dave Good responds: Deora herself didn’t record any music. In the story, I referred to a song composed by her father, Derrill Bodley, that was recorded by his friend, the jazz legend Dave Brubeck. The song title is “Steps to Peace,” and it appears on Brubeck’s London Flat London Sharp CD.

Clear And Truthful

Re Jehovah’s Witnesses, Bancroft Congregation (“Sheep and Goats,” April 8).

Thank you for clear and truthful reporting. There is one error: there are over 100,000 congregations worldwide.

Thank you once again for the scriptures quoted and sound and clear reasoning as to how they apply.

Irene Swain
via email

Matthew Lickona responds: During his talk, Elder Mike Watts said that over 10,000 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses were meeting on Nisan Fourteen. That’s where I got the number.

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