I don't know if these regulations are federal or state; but in many jurisdictions (maybe all, don't know) there are laws against turning off the power when it gets too cold. Here in Kansas at least, it's actually called the Cold Weather Rule. The company has to send personnel out to turn meters on. So no, the power company is not despicably punishing the poor. Even if it wanted to, it couldn't.
Smart meters offer a lot more than simply remote disconnect. A great deal of what they offer is related to their reporting abilities. Standard meters don't communicate at all. They simply spin dials which often are still read manually. Slightly more advanced meters can report to a truck that drives down the street, or across the grid itself to the utility company. But most of the installed meters out in the world are simply dumb circuits with a spinning dial on them.
A smart meter will allow you to view your usage by hour or quarter hour, depending on how many data points your utility company wants to keep. This will allow you to participate in programs that increase off-peak usage. It's better for you and for the utility both if we can flatten the graph on power generation through the day. With smart meters, the company can offer incentive programs that reward the off-peak usage, or programs that might let you participate in other ways. You might be able to install a thermostat that talks to your smart meter and adjust it remotely. Or you might get lower rates in return for letting the utility adjust your thermostat 2 degrees either way during peak times.
When a storm blows through, the smart meters can provide an accurate measure of impact because they're all "ping"able. This will reduce restoration time, especially for those who are on their utility company's "life support" list; people who rely on power for oxygenators, or need refrigeration for meds, etc.
The company can use the smart meters to help measure line loss and know better when to upgrade old distribution lines. It will be easier to detect theft, which really costs the rate-payer.
So no. It's not a big illuminati conspiracy to beat up on poor people. If anything, it displaces meter readers, who are good hard-working people just like you.