By Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
Westminster is getting an intelligent makeover.
“Southern California Edison is in the process of investing billions of dollars in our infrastructure and in building a smart grid,” SCE regional manager Jenelle Froisland told the Westminster City Council on April 28.
SCE has begun installing “smart meters” and removing old electric meters in residences and small businesses across Westminster. Most installations should be completed by June.
According to SCE, smart meters will allow customers to track exactly how much electricity they are using at a given time. SCE believes this will lead to customer’s learning to adjust their energy usage to save money.
Except for notices that have been mailed out to SCE customers, Froisland said that so far there have been no changes to service even for those who already have the new meters. But new services and programs, including dynamic pricing plans and web access to user information, will become available in the second half of 2010.
Froisland also said that new meter installations take five to 10 minutes and are relatively seamless, though there is sometimes a loss of power for a few seconds. SCE has contracted with Corix Utilities to install most of the new meters. Corix is headquartered in Milwaukee but has a Southern California base in Garden Grove.
Westminster is part of SCE’s District 5, which is made up of 10 cities, including Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Midway City, Seal Beach and Sunset Beach. It is also known as the Huntington Beach District.
SCE is replacing five million meters in total at a cost of $1.6 billion. SCE expects to finish the project in 2012. SCE customers can expect to pay 1.6 percent more per month until then.
Daryl Nolta, a long-time Westminster resident and frequent speaker at council meetings, may have gotten the last word on the Black April debate.
“Last Wednesday should go down as Black Wednesday,” Nolta said, referring to the council’s special meeting on April 21. “Revoking a legal permit held by a person who is a refugee, a woman, and first of all an American was a disgrace.”
The city council voted by a 3-1 margin to change, but not revoke, Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen’s permit to hold a Black April ceremony on April 30 at Sid Goldstein Freedom Park. Black April is the anniversary of the fall of South Vietnam.
“The three who voted to revoke her permit violated her federal civil rights,” Nolta added.
Council members Andy Quach, Tyler Diep and Tri Ta voted to revise Nguyen’s permit, changing her event’s time frame from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Mayor Pro Tem Frank Fry voted against the change. Mayor Margie Rice abstained from voting.
“I commend Mayor Rice and Mayor Pro Tem Fry for their votes,” Nolta said. “You said the city should be run by the rules and you voted as such.”
Nolta also complained that the meeting itself violated the civil rights of the public. Westminster police officers locked the doors once the council chambers reached its capacity of 97 people several minutes before the start of the meeting. Another 200 people remained outside.
“I believe the meeting violated the Open Meeting Act because the door was locked,” Nolta said. “An opportunity to speak was not available to the public.”
The council was supposed to formally introduce new Orange County Fire Authority Division 1 Chief Ed Fleming but Fleming was ill and could not make the meeting. Division 1 includes Westminster and Stanton.
The Westminster City Council will meet again on Wednesday May 12 at 7 p.m. Meetings are held in the Council Chambers at 8200 Westminster Blvd.