There is much controversy surrounding the new, digital “smart meters” being installed all over Santa Barbara County and other parts of California. So much so, that in April 2012, in response to a successful legal challenge mounted by the Consumers Power Alliance and its legal team, the California Public Utilities Commission approved an opt-out option for customers of Southern California Edison who want to switch back or keep their current analog meters. The Administrative Court ruling, a big win for consumers, even says that if you have had a wireless meter installed and want it out, you just need to call 1.800.810.2369 to do so.

Pedro Nava (Noozhawk file photo)

Pedro Nava (Noozhawk file photo)

But I know firsthand that there are problems with the way Edison is operating the opt-out program. Edison hired a company called Corix to do the actual removal of the analog meters and the installation of the new ones. My wife and I decided we didn’t want a wireless power metering device attached to our home, and we let Edison know it.

One day in November, a Corix employee, “Phillip,” showed up at our door. He handed my wife his card with his phone number handwritten on the back. She told him we did not want a smart meter. He said he would be in the area for the rest of the week and to call him if we changed our minds. Well, we didn’t change our minds, but we got one of those new meters anyway. Some people think the meters are being changed in spite of the homeowners objections because Corix gets paid for every meter it replaces.

We weren’t happy about it and I started to dig in to the problem. Turns out I’m not alone in my dissatisfaction with Edison and Corix. I’m hearing that many people have demanded that Edison and Corix leave their analog meters alone, and they, like us, are being ignored. This is happening in spite of the fact that locally, the Montecito Association, the counties of Santa Barbara and Ventura, and the cities of Buellton, Carpinteria, Goleta, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Ojai, Ventura, Simi Valley-Moorpark, Calabasas and Grover Beach have called for opt-outs. Looks like Edison and Corix haven’t done a very good job letting the public know their rights.

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, I will be at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse — along with the Consumers Power Alliance and other community members — to bring attention to how Edison and Corix are ignoring the court ruling, and installing wireless meters over property owners’ objections.

We want everyone to know that if you don’t want a new wireless meter, that’s your right. If you do have a wireless meter but don’t want it anymore, that’s your right. Just call 1.800.810.2369 and let them know what you want. It’s your right!

From 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, at the Board of Supervisors’ chambers, the PUC will be conducting a public participation hearing — the first one that I’m aware of. The PUC will take testimony about the cost allocation being used to calculate how much you and I should be paying for the opt-out program. This is our chance to be heard. Please join us this Tuesday and Friday.

— Former Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, represented Santa Barbara County’s South Coast in the Legislature from 2004 to 2010.