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Utility Exec Busted Trying to Spy on Consumers
Pacific Gas and Electric Company's executive in charge of its "SmartMeter" program got caught using a fake name to try and join an Internet talk list operated by people who are fighting installation of the new meters. PG&E, which provides natural gas and electricity to most of Northern California, has installed 7.1 million wireless "SmartMeters" on properties throughout central and northern California. The meters record power consumption and report the information back to the utility at least daily. The power company touts the meters a stepping stone to an improved, more flexible electricity grid, but consumers complain that their monthly utility bills spiked after installation of the meters, and have expressed concern about exposure to the meters' electromagnetic fields. William Devereaux, the senior director of PG&E's $2.2 billion SmartMeter program, posed as an anti-smart meter consumer using the fake name "Ralph" to try to gain admission to the online discussion group for people trying to block use of the SmartMeters. Devereaux used his usual email address, which appeared next to his name, and the list moderator recognized him.