Yep, looks like the much herald utility “smart meters,” after only a couple years of usage, are already screwing up. Imagine that! I’ve previously written several columns on the smart meter controversy, dating back to October 2013, cautioning of various issues raised by other communities that switched from the older analog meters to the new digital electronic meters. In addition to safety and privacy concerns, there were also reliability factors involved because the new meters have a tendency to record erroneous information, often resulting in excessive charges to the customer. Now it appears Safford utility ratepayers are encountering the same problems with their new gas meters (“Safford correcting overbilling errors,” Eastern Arizona Courier, Feb. 20, 2016). The article did not indicate if the electric and water smart meters were also experiencing similar malfunctions. Actually, all my utility usage — electric, gas, water — increased substantially, in some cases, nearly doubling the previous month’s billing. Nothing has changed at my home to reflect such a dramatic jump in costs. If I recall correctly, the same company that provided the city with the meters is also the same company that furnishes the monthly billing statistics. This isn’t to suggest there is a definitive conflict of interest situation, but it seems somewhat suspicious that, if the outfit supplying the meters is also the same firm doing the accounting, the chances of billing “errors” could conceivably occur in favor of the meter supplier.