Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean held up a green door knob hanger for the audience to view at last night’s city council meeting. The paper hanger was from Southern California Edison (SCE) explaining to customers that their meter had been switched out, most likely without their knowledge.
McLean passed along the view of her neighbors who were unhappily surprised by the upgrade to the new SmartConnect meters. SCE had lead Santa Clarita homeowners to believe their meters would not be switched out until 2012.
During public participation Anna Frutos-Sanchez, Regional Manager, Local Public Affairs for SCE was given the standard three minutes to reply.
She explained that the time table had been moved up and she had made every effort to inform the city council and both KHTS AM 1220 and the local newspaper.
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According to SCE outreach information customers are supposed to receive a pre-installation notification letter advising them that their meter will soon be replaced. McLean said her neighbors had not received such a letter. She said there could be people on life-support at home whose lives could be threatened by an unannounced interruption in power while a new meter is installed.
The SCE SmartConnect program will replace 5 million electricity meters with “smart meters” for customers with below 200 kilowatts in demand. Smart meters enable two-way communications between the utility and the customer, sending and receiving frequent energy use information through a secure wireless network.
The SCE says the smart meters will help customers make informed decisions about energy use by providing them with new energy management tools, programs and services. Online usage details are expected to inform customers of how much money they could save by reducing air conditioning use on a hot summer day.
Additionally, smart meters will be able to communicate with smart thermostats, appliances, and devices being developed by major manufacturers. A customer would theoretically be able to program their smart thermostat to shut off the air conditioner when the electricity grid reaches peak demand.
Council Member Laurene Weste had questions for Frutos-Sanchez about the use of radio frequency (RF) signals to transfer electric usage information. The issues involved exposure to RF signals, and interference with other household devices.
Frutos-Sanchez stated that all SCE products go through rigorous testing and there was no evidence of interference. As for the exposure, Frutos-Sanchez said people get more exposure from using their cell phone than what could be expected from a smart meter located outside the house.
She went on further to explain that the information transmitted would only involve how much power a homeowner is using and when. There is no information gathered about which appliances are being used or household activity.
McLean wanted to ensure residents could not remotely have their power turned off during peak usage periods with the new technology. Frutos-Sanchez assured the mayor that permission still had to be given.
The mayor was also concerned the public didn’t know that customers could delay installation by requesting to be put on the delay list.
Frutos-Sanchez explained that once a customer’s request had been received it would take seven business days to process the delay request. Customers could also put a note on their meter asking for a delay if it fell within the seven day window.
According to SCE the smart metering is not an opt-out program. The California Public Utilities Commission which regulates the utility is considering an opt-out, but at this time SCE can only offer customers be put on a temporary delay list.
The SCE says SmartConnect will save homeowners money. An approximately 1.6 percent increase in customer rates is expected during the program’s four year installation period. That increase they say will be offset by monthly savings of approximately 5 percent or more for customers who participate in the new programs and services.
To be put on the delay list call 800-810-2369
To learn more about Edison Smart Connect, click here.
A Chicken in Every Pot, A Horse in Every Northbridge Garage
City staff recommended the city council approve the purchase of 17.20 +/- acres of real property in Placerita Canyon for open space preservation at a total cost of $90,000, which includes $15,000 for escrow, title, surveying fees, and due diligence costs, and $20,000 for open space start-up costs including gates, fencing, and signs as may be required.
The property is located close to the 160 acres of city-owned Quigley Canyon Open Space. The acquisition of this site will allow for additional trail connections and future trail alignments.
Northbridge community resident Jim Farley told the city council that he believed the property was being purchased primarily to provide horse riding trails for Placerita Canyon residents.
“I don’t have a horse tethered in my garage,” said Farley.
City Manager Ken Pulskamp said the area would not just be used for horseback riders. He said the area was beautiful and would be enjoyed by hikers as well.
The item was approved unanimously.
Student Drop-off and Pick-up Points Influences Traffic Changes
The city council approved traffic changes inspired by parents dropping off or picking up their children at three school locations.
The Pubic Works department has been tasked with installing a multiway stop control at the intersection of Carnegie Avenue and Barcotta Drive due to heavy vehicular and school-age pedestrian congestion during morning arrival and afternoon dismissal periods.
The intersection is a four-legged intersection in a residential neighborhood and is in close proximity to James Foster Elementary School. The intersection currently has stop controls on Carnegie Avenue.
City staff informed the school and adjacent property owners of the proposed multiway stop controls at the intersection, all of which were reportedly in support of the proposed improvement. The school will also notify the students’ parents of the improvements.
The installation of the multiway stop controls is estimated at $1,000 and will be paid through gas tax funds.
Public Works staff will also establish a “No Stopping Anytime” zone along the west side of the Seco Canyon Frontage Road which is reportedly blocked by parents who attend Santa Clarita Elementary and nearby Arroyo Seco Junior High School as they drop off and pick up their children from school.
Residents told city staff they feel removing parking along one side of the road will improve safety and circulation.
City Staff determined that the establishment of a no-stopping anytime zone, approximately 770 feet in length, would enhance roadway operations and safety, as school parents would no longer block access to local driveways while dropping off and picking up students.
Earlier in the week a crossing guard at the intersection told KHTS that a video camera needed to be installed to catch all the drivers who drive through the intersection while talking on their cell phones and thereby endangering children.
The project involves the installation of 8 signs totaling approximately $2,000 which would be paid through gas tax funds.
The Maddy Act
The Santa Clarita City Council approved the local appointments list and designated all branches of the Santa Clarita Public Library to receive a copy of the list.
Government code, known colloquially as “The Maddy Act,” was created to “take into consideration a vast and largely untapped reservoir of talent which exists among the citizenry that frequently is not aware of the opportunities for participation on local regulatory and advisory boards and commissions.”
For that reason, the Maddy Act was enacted for maximum public awareness of appointments to be made by the Governor, the City Council, the Redevelopment Agency, or other legislative bodies.
Government Code Section 54972 requires that, on or before December 31 of each year, the legislative body, or city council and Redevelopment Agency, must cause to be prepared a list of appointments of all ongoing boards, commissions, and committees which are appointed by the city council and the Agency.
The list must include which terms will expire during the next calendar year, with the name of the incumbent appointee, the date of appointment, the date the term expires, and the necessary qualifications for the position.