In a case that pits sticker shock against regulatory certainty, the California Public Utilities Commission Feb. 16 deferred acting on a petition aimed at derailing a $1 billion SoCal Gas plan to install digital gas meters in its territory. Potential reconsideration of the CPUC\u2019s 2010 approval of the plan stems from another $2.5 billion request pending for safety related pipeline upgrades. According to the commission, in total, the costs would tap ratepayers for $9 billion over the life of the investments. \u201cBoth need to go forward,\u201d commission president Mike Peevey said. \u201cNow we would just stop? The Luddites would triumph.\u201d Commissioner Mike Florio asked regulators to rethink the 2007 decision--not to overturn it--because \u201cthe world is different today than it was at the time of the decision.\u201d He added, \u201cRatepayer money is a finite resource\u201d that the commission is in \u201cserious danger of overcommitting.\u201d The discussion came in response to a petition by ratepayer advocates seeking to stay and then reverse the approval of the company\u2019s plan. While the utility has yet to install the meters, it has spent $58 million preparing for their installation, according to the CPUC. Both commissioners Peevey and Tim Simon were indignant at the thought of reconsidering the earlier decision. Both voted on the original 2007 decision. Consumer advocates \u201care taking advantage that we have new commissioners,\u201d Simon said. \u201cI find this regrettable. It\u2019s clearly a Trojan horse-esq effort to dismantle the decision.\u201d There were two potential swing-vote commissioners--Catherine Sandoval and Mark Ferron. Ferron noted the \u201cenormous\u201d costs to ratepayers, at the same time he \u201chates regulatory uncertainty.\u201d That is, the commission indicated to SoCal Gas investors that the state committed to a $1 billion investment in meters, in which investors would be assured a rate of return. Regulatory uncertainty could be caused by stalling this decision and some consider it may drive investors away from providing capital for the utility. Still, Ferron added, he feels the commission should have the flexibility to change course. \u201cWe believe our advanced meter project should continue to move forward,\u201d stated SoCal Gas spokesperson Raul Gordillo. The utility insists the meters are not only cost-effective, but deliver \u201cbillions of tangible savings to customers,\u201d he stated.