Although touted as a big technological leap, some worry that installation of wireless electric and gas meters and the digitized transmission of customer data may result in problems going undetected because of the lack of on-site meter readers. "[Human meter readers] have provided eyes and ears for us on other things that may be going on, [and] a little more consciousness about things, either good or bad, that might be happening in neighborhoods, so we're gonna miss that," said Bill Slaton, Sacramento Municipal Utility District board member, during a recent meeting. "That is one of the unintended consequences of advancing this technology," according to Slaton Meter readers in public and private utilities have reported numerous incidents, including gas leaks and faulty wiring. "We still hope to have ambassadors in the community through energy auditors, through line and other field crews," said SMUD general manager John DiStasio. He said that a benefit of the meter readers not walking routes is that it takes them out of harm's way--in particular, avoiding attacks by vicious dogs. SMUD plans to replace all its analog meters with wireless ones. In January, muni installations totaled 30,439, bringing the cumulative total installed to 110,740, or about a sixth of SMUD customers. More than 2,500 digital meters are being installed in SMUD territory daily, and about 45,000 "smart" meters are expected to be installed this month. The state's four big investor-owned utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and SoCal Gas, are all also in various stages of universal installation of computerized meters, with PG&E leading the pack. PG&E began installing the new meters in 2006 and has put 7.5 million in place, according to utility spokesperson Jeff Smith. The utility is expected to complete 10 million installations by 2012, he said. SDG&E began rolling out computerized meters last year and expects the process to be complete by the end of this year. SDG&E's sister company, SoCal Gas, expects to begin rolling out six million "smart" meters beginning in late 2012. The union representing the meter readers, the Utility Workers Union of America, has been dead-set against the meter swap outs, even though it and SoCal Gas have an agreement in place for the human meter readers to be retrained for other positions. Sam Weinstein, assistant to the national president for the union, said that the large sum of ratepayer dollars spent on meters should be used to expand weatherization programs. He insisted that there was no real need for computerized gas meters. The loss of meter reader jobs has been a major concern but the utilities said nearly all of the workers were retrained and retained. For PG&E the retention rate of meter readers is "well over 80 percent," Smith said. SDG&E stated that none of its meter readers are being let go because of the new devices. "SDG&E will continue to gradually reduce and downsize the meter-reader work force through normal attrition and regular business performance assessments," stated the utility. SMUD said all the meters were retrained and retained.