Monthly Archives: December 2014

Taking back our power!

Marin County Sheriff's Deputies arrest Katharina Sandizell-Smith (left) and Kristin McCrory (right) for blocking 'smart' meter installation trucks in Inverness Park, California, Wednesday, December 29, 2010. Photo: Courtesy of Scotts Valley Neighbors Against Smart Meters

The CPUC’s Flawed ‘Smart Meter’ Ruling will not stop the Drive for Community Wide, No Cost Opt-Outs.

By Mary Beth Brangan

[ A shorter version of this article appears in the Pt. Reyes Light here. ]

Public Resistance to Wireless Pollution
Almost exactly four years ago, June McCrory and Katharina Sandizell-Smith, two young West Marin mothers, made national news by blocking the Inverness road to ‘smart’ meter installers and becoming among the first in the U.S. to be arrested over the meters. Their arrests shocked many in the industry into realizing that all was not well with their plans.

After an unprecedented multi year delay, a final decision on this contentious issue will be voted on by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Dec. 18, 2014.

Those of us in West Marin and Fairfax became leaders in the fight against forced installation of so-called ‘smart’ meters. We joined leaders in Sebastopol and Scotts Valley and then beyond in vociferously resisting because of health, safety, security and privacy concerns which we testified about at Marin city council meetings.

Fairfax City Council’s resolution asserting the right of communities to opt out helped kick off what eventually became 57 cities, counties and one tribe to officially object. Many called for moratoriums on installation; over a dozen made installation illegal.

Beginning early in 2010, we brought our concerns about so-called ‘smart’ meters to the attention of folks here in West Marin at a packed meeting at the Dance Palace.

PG&E Agents Lied and Spied, Labeled Us ‘Insurgents’
Our Marin County based online group, SmartWarriorMarin, initially the most active, was infiltrated by PG&E workers using false names. Later, when PG&E’s ‘smart’ meter project director, William Devereaux, tried to infiltrate the EMFSafety Coalition’s online group with a false name, Ralph, he neglected to remove his real name from his email and was recognized. Shortly thereafter, PG&E released hundreds of emails to the media that it had purloined from our group strategy discussions. In e-mail exchanges between executives, opponents of ‘smart’ meters were referred to as ‘insurgents.’ Subsequently the CPUC ordered an investigation into the PG&E spying and PG&E was eventually forced to pay a $390,000 fine to the CA general fund as well as to institute a code of ethics for similar online situations.

We had wondered when we organized to be at the Santa Rosa truck yard at 7:30 am one chilly morning in 2010 to block the ‘smart’ meter installation trucks, how the trucks had completely vanished! The company had gotten the message from our email discussion and had moved them before we came.

Massive Public Testimony
For years, hundreds of people spoke out at the bi-weekly CPUC business meetings in San Francisco. PG&E and CPUC President Michael Peevey were getting nervous. People related similar heart-wrenching stories of being totally physically devastated by the effects of the ‘smart’ meter’s incessant pulsing microwaves. Many people close to banks of multiple meters in apartment buildings or condominiums, were especially injured. Finally after sitting through many hundreds of such testimonies, President Peevey declared that an opt out would be offered and established an official CPUC proceeding to work out the details.

Playing in a Rigged Game
After producing dozens of videos, writing articles, researching and writing blogs, organizing events and giving presentations, chasing installer trucks out of Bolinas and blocking trucks with friends in Stinson Beach, testifying at and videotaping CPUC meetings, my partner and EON co-director, Jim and I became legal intervenors on behalf of the public at the CPUC proceeding. We argued for community wide opt out as well as for no cost opt out. After all, we never opted in – why should we be forced to pay to not have something? Doesn’t being forced to pay to not be harmed constitute extortion?

Once the official proceeding began, those of us who were now embroiled in the Byzantine CPUC rules no longer showed up at the regular business meetings and the hubbub somewhat quieted. Peevey boasted at a CPUC meeting that he was praised “by the Whitehouse” for effectively dealing with the activists. (Federal stimulus funds were behind the rollout.) It was true, the furor died down, with the energy being dissipated by legal maneuvers.

Nevertheless, we all continued on.

We here in Marin, together with our colleagues in Sebastopol and Santa Cruz, gathered the critical information damning the ‘smart’ meter technology and set a tone that has reverberated throughout the world. Pushback against microwave emitting meters is now happening everywhere throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe.

Medical, Cyber-Security and Safety Warnings Ignored
After repeated thorough investigations, our fears about the techno plan were validated again and again. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Cancer Research, IARC, concluded that microwaves in the frequencies used by wireless devices, including ‘smart’ meters, are a class 2 B , possible carcinogen, as is asbestos, arsenic and benzene. (If the peer-reviewed studies that weren’t allowed to be considered by IARC had been included, many independent scientists believe that microwave frequencies should be classified as a class 1 A carcinogen.) Can you think of another instance where it is legal to force a class 2 B carcinogen device onto your home?

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine issued a letter directly to the CPUC calling for an immediate moratorium on installation of the meters, citing many peer-reviewed studies showing biological effects from pulsing microwave frequencies.

Security experts constantly warn of dramatically increased vulnerability to the electrical grid by cyber attacks because of wireless ‘smart’ meters. James Woolsey, former head of the CIA has said that the wireless ‘smart’ meter technologies make the grid stupid.

Thousands of fires have been reported and at least one California and one Nevada death caused by the meter fires. These have been dealt with by utility out of court settlements with gag orders. Canadian Saskatchewan utility CEO Robert Watson resigned in disgrace because of having to recall all meters due to a rash of fires. Plus now utilities are profiting from selling individual ratepayers’ private data gathered by meters.

All this risk and yet studies by various attorneys general, including Illinois and the auditor-general of Ontario, Canada’s legislature, have shown these meters result in little to no energy savings and no benefits to ratepayers. Instead, rates have gone up.

Since the meters continuously bounce thousands of powerful microwave emissions between neighboring meters 24/7, (signals can travel 1 mile) an individual opt out doesn’t remove the harmful emissions. Multiple banks of meters on apartments and condominiums produce really lethal amounts of radiation; therefore, community wide opt out is the only solution.

Though stating in the ‘smart’ grid proceeding that health issues would be addressed in the opt-out proceeding, Peevey and the CPUC Judge did not allow any health information to be submitted at all. They then claimed that since we had not presented any convincing data they determined there were no health effects!

Peevey says, “Community-wide opt-outs are ‘undemocratic!’”
Unfortunately, at the Dec. 4 CPUC meeting, the Commissioners discussed the proposed decisions and decided against allowing communities to opt out and to require those refusing a ‘smart’ meter to pay for the privilege of not having one. Mr. Peevey actually ridiculed as ‘undemocratic’ communities that voted for community wide opt out.

Though it will still be possible to opt out, you will have to pay a $75 fee upfront and then $10 extra per month; low income CARE ratepayers pay $10 upfront and $5 per month, pricing it out of range for many poor people.

Come and Express Your Outrage…
We encourage everyone outraged at this injustice and willful ignoring of people pleading on behalf of their health, safety, security and privacy to be at the December 18 meeting to demand community opt out and no fees. 8:30 AM, California Public Utilities Commission, Van Ness at McAllister, San Francisco.

We may have lost this round, but this patently illegal affront to people’s right to health and safety and to the right of elected officials of cities and counties to protect their constituents, will be challenged in court. [ Download a PDF copy of this article here. ]


Mary Beth Brangan and Jim Heddle are Co-Directors of EON, the Ecological Options Network. They are award-winning film-makers of Public Exposure: DNA, Democracy and the Wireless Revolution and many other social & environmental issue documentaries produced in the last two decades which have been broadcast and toured nationally and internationally; aired in Congress, the United Nations, on PBS, ABC, CNN, cable; and used in parliaments, universities, libraries and by citizens’ organizations and NGO’s worldwide. Residents of Bolinas, they organize, educate and produce media supporting people confronting current survival challenges.;;


If you like EON’s work, you can support it, whatever your budget level, here.

Let’s tell the CPUC: “ It’s not ‘smart’ to defy the will of the people.”

What the CPUC's Opt-Out Decision Ignores. Cartoon: J Heddle - EON

By James Heddle

Not Listening
Four years of informed, angry, pleading public testimony on a virtually bi-weekly basis telling them of the personal health, public safety, privacy violation and national cyber- and energy-security threats posed by the forced saturation deployment of wireless so-called ‘smart’ meters failed to persuade the five unelected, political appointees that perch on the dais at the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC).

None of these urgent public health, safety, privacy, and security concerns have been considered in the Commission ‘Proceeding’ dealing with the question of whether-or-not individuals, apartment complexes, communities and municipalities could choose to ‘opt-out’ of the coordinated government/industry wireless ‘smart’ meter roll-out push being simultaneously implemented in many countries around the world.

On Thursday, Dec. 18th, the Commissioners are expected to vote for a decision stunningly symptomatic of the current state of democratic public process in America: Screw the Public Will. Discounting all legitimate public concerns, the ruling will allow individual households to ‘opt-out’ for an initial penalty fee and an extortionate monthly payment.

But no collective opt-outs will be allowed – meaning all neighborhoods will be drenched 24/7 in inescapable electro-magnetic soup. No place to hide.

So much for democratic process and ‘consumer choice.’ So much for health, safety, privacy and security.

Down from Davos
The whole corporately-driven wireless ‘smart’ meter roll-out craze on the part of gas, power and water utilities world-wide can be traced back to the government-corporate conclave known as the World Economic Forum which meets annually in the swank Swiss resort town of Davos.

Conceived in the conference rooms, cocktail lounges and dining halls of snowy Davos and codified into technical papers, budget spread sheets, strategic planning documents and public relations scenarios by corporate and government staffers, the scheme was sold to gullible officials and publics as a necessary response to climate change.

The global ‘smart’ meter roll-out – just a step toward the ultimately envisioned ‘internet of things’ in which a whole new generation of ‘smart’ wireless appliances from juicers to air conditioners to vibrators will communicate with each other in a kind of automated global brain – would give consumers more awareness of and control over their energy usage and allow the integration of ‘intermittent’ renewable energy sources like wind and solar into the national energy grid. That’s how the sales-pitch went. None if it has proven true.

But Obama Administration bought the hype, drank the ‘smart grid’ cool aid and shoveled billions of big federal bucks into the pipeline to support it.

Here in California, CPUC President Michael Peevey slurped the smart meter cool aid and made it his business to impose ‘smart meter madness’ on the entire population of California.

That’s how it comes to pass that next Thurs. – as Mike Peevey ends his CPUC career and rides off under a lowering cloud of corruption investigations – the Commission will mark his passing by voting into place his legacy – an essentially criminal act which will put at risk the health, privacy, safety and security of the state’s entire population. Hellofa job, Mike!

Please join many other outraged ratepayers and public citizens at the CPUC 8:30 AM, next Thursday 505 Van Ness Avenue and let the Commissioners know that this illegitimate decision defying the public will cannot stand. It is the end of a flawed CPUC Proceeding, but only the beginning of public opposition that will ultimately roll back what will come to be seen as one of the most harebrained and disastrous technocratic decisions in the history of California. [ Download PDF version here. ]

James Heddle co-directs EON – The Ecological Options Network. EON has been an official intervenor in the CPUC Opt-Out Proceeding. On FaceBook: EON – the Ecological Options Network On Twitter: EonNewsNet

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If you like EON’s work, you can support it, whatever your budget level, here.

What do we want? WISE GRID! When do we want it? NOW!

Not very 'smart.' The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) proposed decision on 'Smart' Meter Opt-Outs will be voted on Dec. 18, 2014. It ignores vital issues and defies the public will. Cartoon by James Heddle

What we want:
• Informed democratic choice, not top-down, technocratic dictates
• Individual no-cost opt-out
• Building-wide no-cost opt-out
• Community-wide, no-cost opt-out
• Cancelation and roll-back of the SM roll-out and the whole ‘smart grid’ scheme/scam
• Investment in a decentralized “wise grid” based on small-scale distributed generation facilities based on renewable energy sources and managed by publically owned and publically accountable entities.

What’s wrong with the ‘smart grid’ agenda:
• Its top-down, corporate profit-driven, imposed without public discussion or investigation of all its multiple areas of impact: human and biological health effects; safety; vulnerability to hacking and malicious manipulation; privacy -personal data collection for marketing and surveillance purposes; economic and energy saving effectiveness; basic functionality.

• It’s based on an obsolete business model, i.e., the private investor-owned utility (IOU) operating centralized, large-scale generating facilities supplying a large designated monopoly region with energy from polluting, non-renewable, toxic sources – coal, gas and nuclear reactors.

What’s wrong with Wireless ‘Smart’Meters::
• They do not function as advertised either technologically or economically.
• They are a danger to human and biological health as well as to safety, privacy and grid security and stability.

What’s wrong with the Opt-Out proceeding and Proposed Decisions:
• They violate California state law and the CPUC’s own codes and regulations.
• They fail to address fundamental issues of consumer protection, property rights, human health, public safety, science-based, democratic decision-making and due process.

What’s wrong with the CPUC:
• It is corporately captured, corrupt and inimical to the public interest.

What’s wrong with PG&E:
• A long history of criminal behavior against the public interest
• Under multiple federal indictments
• Demonstrably incompetent

Download PDF here.
=========== On FaceBook: EON – the Ecological Options Network On Twitter: EonNewsNet

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