September 26, 2011 (San Diego) – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) president Michael Peevey has issued a ruling ordering San Diego Gas & Electric Company and two other utility companies to allow consumers who don’t want a “smart meter” installed to place their names on a delay list, pending the outcome of upcoming workshops on the issue.
The order applies only to homes that do not yet have a smart meter, and does not provide an option for people who want to have a smart meter removed.
The order came in response to complaints from numerous consumers alleging health problems that they believe are related to electromagnetic radiation emitted by smart meters at their homes, as well as to numerous communities that have taken formal actions to restrict or ban smart meters. The rule applies to Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison as well as San Diego Gas & Electric.
Susan Brinchman, a La Mesa resident and director of the center for Electrosmog Prevention, believes the order doesn’t go far enough. A doctor has issued an opinion that Brinchman’s recent health problems may be linked to installation of a smart meter at her home. SDG&E has insisted that the meters are safe.
“My choice is no smart meter. Can I get that? They still say no,” she has stated. Brinchman says an SDG&E representative has told her that her smart meter still cannot be removed, despite numerous requests. She added that the representative informed her that “it is only a delay as everybody is getting the smart meters in SDG&E territory in CA and other states.”
According to Brinchman, the vast majority of smart meters have already been installed in San Diego County, making the ruling's impact minimal.
Peevey has drawn criticism for overly cozy relationships with the utiltiy industry he is assigned to regulate, as the San Francisco Bay Guardian detailed in a May 24, 2011 article titled The secret life of Michael Peevey:California's top energy regulator rolls with power company executives behind the scenes.
Brinchman also takes issue with SDG&E for making it hard for consumers who still have analog meters to learn of the delay list option. The CPUC ruling required that this information be displayed on the utility companies’ websites. The information is nowhere to be seen on SDG&E’s homepage, but appears instead on an inside section touting benefits of smart meters. A link on the smart meter page titled "delay list" leads to information on how to opt off, though it seems unlikely that many utility consumers not already aware of the option would find it in this inconspicuous location.
If you do not yet have a smart meter installed at your home and would like to be placed on the temporary installation delay list, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-(800)411-7344.