By Miriam Raftery
September 12, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Consumers who want a no-cost option to opt out of having wireless smart meters on their homes are urged to attend a September 14 hearing in San Francisco.
“The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has called a workshop to be held to discuss smart meter opt-outs,” says Susan Brinchman, a La Mesa resident and founder of the Center for Electrosmog Prevention (CEP). “We need the public to attend and show the CPUC how concerned we are. Following the installation of smart meters on their homes and workplaces, many people are reporting illness, damage to electronics, appliances and buildings, fires, higher bills, and invasion of privacy."
She adds, "We need to tell the CPUC that smart meters have to go and that what we want is a return to no-cost, safe analogs."
The CEP will present its opt-out proposal at the Public Smart Meter Opt-Out Workshop, which will be held at the CPUC Public Auditorium on 505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011, 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
This CPUC workshop will discuss the options for customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, and Southern California Gas Company who wish to opt-out of the utility’s respective Smart Meter program.
A public protest rally and press conference will be held outside the auditorium, beginning at 12:30 PM.
The utility industry has maintained that smart meters have been safe. Smart meters provide the utility industry a way of measuring energy usage at various times of day, allowing price setting to reflect consumption based on time of day and season. For consumers, smart meters offer potential benefits such as an end to estimated bills and a tool to manage their energy use.
However critics contend that radiation emitted by smart meters can and has caused health issues for consumers, particularly in sensitive individuals. To date, 45 local governments in California have voted to oppose smart meter installations and several have banned smart meters altogether: http://stopsmartmeters.org/how-you-can-stop-smart-meters/sample-letter-t... .
CEP’s proposal asks the CPUC to require that customers be informed about potential risks of smart meters and be given the option to refuse a smart meter installation. If a smart meter is already installed, CEP wants the CPUC to require a utility company to remove it at no cost to the consumer, among other requirements. See the full proposal at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/62671132/CEP-Expanded-Smart-Meter-Opt-Out-Prop...
Critics have contended that some CPUC members, notably Chairman Michael Peevey, a former California Edison executive, are overly friendly to industry.
According to the website www.stopsmartmeters.org:
• ‘Smart’ meter radiation is a Class 2B carcinogen according to the World Health Organization (pdf), at least 100x the exposure from a cell phone, say UC Nuclear experts. Like living within 500 feet of a major cell tower, according to Sage Associates. Thousands report adverse health effects to the PUC, yet installations continue as if nothing is wrong.
• “Smart” meters are responsible for a number of structure fires and explosions, including one that burned Santa Rosa Mall in April. The meters are not even UL certified.
• “Smart’ meters violate privacy, recording every detail of your power usage – a permanent search warrant into your home- data that can be shared with law enforcement officials and other corporations. Watch this short video for the full scoop.
Yet removing smart meters has proven all but impossible for California consumers. A Lompoc woman who claimed to suffer adverse health impacts and who was concerned about health of her husband, a cancer patient, arranged to have her own smart meter removed and replaced by an analog meter after her utility company refused to do so. In response, Pacific Gas & Electric called police and has threatened to turn off her electricity.
Advocates of allowing consumers to opt out of smart meters say it’s important for as many people as possible to show up at the CPUC hearing this week. For those who cannot attend, contacting members of the CPUC to voice your views is another option.