PG&E may pay $390,000 fine for “Ralph” the SmartMeter spy

Remember William “Ralph” Devereaux?

He’s the former PG&E employee who used a false identity to spy on Bay Area activists opposed to the utility’s roll out of digital SmartMeters.

Deveraux resigned in November 2010 after admitting that he used the name “Ralph” to try to infiltrate an online group of anti SmartMeter activists.

A lengthy investigation by the PUC’s Consumer Protection and Safety Division revealed that Deveraux forwarded emails that he collected using the false identity to his boss and other senior managers at PG&E, including a member of the legal department.

Now the CPSD, PG&E and the consumer advocacy group TURN have proposed a settlement agreement that would have PG&E pay $390,000 into California’s General Fund. PG&E also agrees to sponsor trainings on social media use and proper online protocols.

But many of the activists who were involved in the online forums,  including Josh Hart of Stop Smart Meters and the EMF Safety Network, are livid.

“We are not in favor of this settlement agreement,” said Hart in an interview. “We want public hearings, and we want to depose executives from PG&E and the PUC. We also want PG&E to apologize publicly.”

Hart maintains that some of the documents related to the CPSD’s investigation have yet to be made public.

“This former employee’s activity was not in keeping with PG&E’s values,” said PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno. “The settlement agreement provides for PG&E to do training and industry education on social media practices. The expectation and clear message to employees is that they participate in social media and online activities with integrity and respect and are transparent about their work with PG&E.”

A vote on the full settlement agreement is expected to come before the full PUC in March.





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  • Ralph Smart

    I’ve learned a lot on my last Job at PGE on how to gain the needed insight – I’m now VP Strategy at ORACLE.