CPUC Approves 'Al Capone' Smart Meter Opt-Out Plan

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Channel 5 covers the post-decision demonstration.

“Pay Up and We Won’t Break Your Kneecaps”
That’s the essential spirit and message of the opt-out policy authored by CPUC President Michael Peevey and approved by four of the five Commissioners on February 1, 2012.  (Where was Mike Florio?)

The unpopular decision came after over an hour of  50 public comments unanimously condemning the policy from customers, many of whom described serious health effects from the wireless ‘smart’ meters already installed in their homes, apartments and neighborhoods.

The new policy allows individual customers to retain their analog meters or have ‘smart’ meters replaced with analog meters by paying a one-time fee of $75 and a monthly fee of $10 ($10 up front and $5/mo. for low income.) Customers have until May 1 to make their decision by visiting this PG&E webpage or calling 866-743-0263. The so-called ‘delay list’ is terminated.

Rolling Back the Roll-Out
The ruling, despite its serious flaws, should be seen as a victory for the movement in opposition to the ‘smart meter’ build-out, a movement that is growing across the country and around the world, with California one of the epicenters. In that sense it is proof that persistent resistance is fertile, and industry observers both domestic and international are watching developments in California closely, blindsided as they have been by the vehemence of the public backlash against the mass deployment of wireless meters.

PG&E is now saying it supports ‘individual choice for residential customers when it comes to the meter at their home.’ But they know they’ve been beaten back from their original ‘There-Is-No-Alternative,’ ‘Resistance-Is-Futile’ technocratic totalitarian stance.

Well-intentioned, but misinformed advocates of a world-wide, wireless energy grid are watching developments in California and elsewhere with consternation as their ill-conceived agenda begins to unravel due to massive and growing science-based public opposition and the plan’s own internal technical problems.

Here, in three segments, is our video coverage of (1) the public comment period; (2) the Commissioners’ pre-vote statements, and (3) public reactions after the vote. EON’s position on the decision follows below, as well as recent news reports.

California ‘Smart’ Meter Opt-Out Decision 2-1-2012 – Part 1 – Public Pre-Decision Comments

California ‘Smart’ Meter Opt-Out Decision 2-1-2012 – Part 2 Commissioners’ Statements

“Our Health is Not for Sale!”
Public Responses to CPUC’s Smart Meter Opt-Out Ruling – Post-Decision Interviews

Partial Victory
EON and so many others have protested since the beginning of their ‘smart’ meter rollout and have joined other organizations as official interveners in the CPUC Opt-Out Proceeding.

While we welcome the opportunity given to customers to retain their analog meters, we oppose the charging of fees.

The Community wide and ‘wireless meter safe zones’ aspect should have been considered first, not relegated to the second phase. Protection from meters cannot merely be one at a time because of the mesh network’s adverse health effect. In order to have true protection, many would be forced to pay for their neighbor’s fees and can’t afford it.

In situations where the utility bill is in an uncaring landlord’s name, or when one customer has multiple accounts, the fee of $75 up front per account and $10/month extra is prohibitive. If one resident becomes injured by overexposure to RF/EMF and opts out, but the neighbors aren’t sensitized yet or don’t have the money or the willingness to pay the extra fee, the injured resident faces paying all the neighbor’s fees to protect themselves. Very few will be able to afford it. Where can these people live safely?

People suffering harm from the intense emissions can still be harmed by the mesh network surrounding them, since removing one meter will not stop harm from neighboring meters. This is why it’s so important for us to have community wide opt out. Due to organized community pressure there are 10 counties, 38 cities and towns and one Native American tribe that have passed resolutions or moratoriums against forced installation. Hopefully community wide opt outs will be worked out in phase two of the CPUC proceeding on the opt out issue.

Pres. Peevey declares that wireless smart meters are the basis for the smart grid and that’s the ‘new standard.’ But Peevey, the other Commissioners and industry still don’t understand the health problem.

With this interim decision, the wireless mesh network will still be in place, bouncing from 10,000 to 190,000 pulses of high frequency RF signals from each meter to each neighbor’s meters and then to a data collector unit on a utility pole, which also concentrates exposure. When there are multiple meters, as in an apartment complex, or when there are homes built close together, or multiple meters on a home, or homes that have meters outside a frequently used living area or bedroom, these RF emissions are even more intense.

The technocrats and industry see these meters as a huge growth industry and can’t fathom the consumer backlash. Yet many see this wireless meter debacle as continuing the pattern of PG&E’s record of wanton safety violations and disregard for customers , like Hinkley, Diablo Canyon and San Bruno.

To be forced to pay to NOT have a device that emits a class 2B carcinogen on one’s home, we believe, is extortion.

Background: Because 15% of PG&E territory is in hilly and mountainous terrain, the RF signals are designed to travel one mile according to a tech rep from Silver Springs, the manufacturer of PG&E’s meters. These intense bursts of millisecond high frequency RF pulse 24/7 from each electric meter – though actual data transmission time is only on average, 45 seconds/day. The other thousands of pulses, called ‘chirps’ are to maintain the mesh network from house to house. Additionally, there are constant high frequency RF emissions from the switch mode power supply that transforms the AC current from the utility pole 240v to the approximately 5v DC current needed to run the electronics in the meter. This pulsing, staccato of radiofrequency radiation gets into the wiring throughout the house and throughout the adjacent wires, causing ‘dirty electricity.’ Exposure to these all these sources of radiofrequency radiation, in addition to wireless home routers, wi-fi, cordless phones, local cell towers, etc., is what is making people sick.

The CPUC frequently reminds us that they are not in the business of determining health issues and refuses to acknowledge the massive science showing severe health impacts from RF radiation. Current FCC guidelines are obsolete and don’t refer at all to the situation we all face now of chronic long-term exposure to exponentially rising levels of RF/EMF radiation. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine wrote directly to  Pres. Peevey to halt the ‘smart’ meter rollout immediately, calling this “an issue of the highest importance.”

And the health issue is in addition to the safety, security and privacy/surveillance issues with wireless meters

American Academy of Environmental Medicine Weighs In Against Wireless Meters

From the recent AAEM letter to Peevey: What They Officially Recommend:

The Board of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine also wishes to note that the US NIEHS National Toxicology Program in 1999 cited radiofrequency radiation as a potential carcinogen. Existing safety limits for pulsed RF were termed “not protective of public health” by the Radiofrequency Interagency Working Group (a federal interagency working group including the FDA, FCC, OSHA, the EPA and others). Emissions given off by “smart meters” have been classified by the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a Possible Human Carcinogen.

Hence, we call for:

• An immediate moratorium on “smart meter” installation until these serious public health issues are resolved. Continuing with their installation would be extremely irresponsible.

• Modify the revised proposed decision to include hearings on health impact in the second proceedings, along with cost evaluation and community wide opt-out.

• Provide immediate relief to those requesting it and restore the analog meters.
[ Download PDF here. ]

The Industry Response – Impact by “Vocal, Well-Organized Minority” Equals “Mob Rule”

California: mob rule on analog opt-out solution?
PG&E’s, CPUC’s favored options may be discarded
Phil Carson | Jan 31, 2012
Today, let’s dip back into the CPUC’s proposed decision for a closer look at some of the objections to PG&E’s suggested solutions and regulators’ takes on those objections. Read more.

From health claims to Orwellian accusations, CPUC decision stings some
PG&E opt-out option doesn’t sooth anti-smart meter antagonists

Kate Rowland | Feb 02, 2012
As I have noted before, a critical piece of the intelligent utility is the intelligent consumer. In my opinion, the latter was sorely lacking in the public input portion of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Feb. 1 business meeting.

As I watched the video coverage yesterday, I was struck nearly dumb by some of the continued public outrage against the CPUC’s proposed decision on agenda item 28, the modification of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E’s) smart meter program.
Any good debater knows that it’s imperative to keep emotion out of the argument. And yet, high emotions (and, in at least one case, downright delusion) ruled the day as nearly 60 people stood up to speak, and many ran over their one-minute time allotment.  

As I listened, I realized that not one word of what PG&E and other utilities in California (not to mention the rest of the country) have been trying to do to educate customers has penetrated even the first layer of understanding for these particular folks. They know what they know, despite scientific evidence to the contrary [sic]. Read more.

CPUC Approves PG&E SmartMeter Opt Out Charge
February 1, 2012 12:10 PM – video
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) – California regulators said Pacific Gas & Electric Co. can start charging its customers fees to avoid having wireless utility meters installed in their homes.

State regulators to vote on PG&E smart meter “opt-out”
By Dana Hull dhull@mercurynews.com
Posted:   02/01/2012 06:07:55 AM PST

In a move being closely watched by utilities across the country, state regulators are expected to vote Wednesday to give PG&E customers the right to “opt out” of having a smart meter and keep their old meters — for a fee.

The opt-out proposal, crafted by California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey after months of discussion and debate, comes after a year of highly organized protests by consumers opposed to smart meters because of concerns about their accuracy, privacy implications and impact on health….

Vast network
Pacific Gas & Electric plans to install about 9.7 million smart meters on homes and businesses throughout its vast Northern California territory. So far, about 90 percent of all smart meters are installed, with deployment on track to be completed by the end of this year.

It’s unclear how many of PG&E’s more than 6 million customers will pay to keep their old meter. Many smart meter opponents fiercely oppose having to pay to keep analog meters, and others say they cannot afford the fees.

“Yes, we want the analog meters,” said Sandi Maurer of Sebastopol, who opposes smart meters because of health concerns and does not have one. “But we are beyond mad about the fees. This is extortion. Read more.

SAN FRANCISCO: Critics decry CPUC’s approval of SmartMeter opt-out fees

The California Public Utilities Commission voted Wednesday to impose fees on PG&E customers who choose to opt out of the utility’s SmartMeter program. Patti Lee reports for Channel 2 News at 5.

CPUC agrees to PG&E smart meter opt-out plan – angry meter opponents don’t
By Doug Peeples
SGN News Editor

In the best of all possible worlds, the California Public Utilities Commission decision today to approve Pacific Gas & Electric’s smart meter opt-out plan for customers who don’t want them would be the end of the story.  But it’s incredibly unlikely to turn out that way.

While PG&E’s plan gives smart meter opponents the option of getting their analog meters back, it’s going to cost them: a $75 upfront fee and a monthly charge of $10 and for low income customers, a $10 up front fee and $5 a month.

After what the San Jose Mercury News described as a “raucous” commission meeting in which the proposal was approved, one woman was quoted as screaming, “This is a crime against humanity!” The clamor from meter opponents during the meeting apparently was so disruptive that CPUC President Michael Peevey called for security guards to clear the room. Another opponent said customers would refuse to pay the fees and that personal injury and class action lawsuits would be on the way.

Smart meter opponents from Maine to California have long contended that the meters are health, privacy and safety hazards. Read more.

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