Understanding the Smart Meter Backlash
By Jonathan Hiskes – Mother Jones
[ Be sure to read and respond appropriately to this shameful, shoddy piece of industry bootlicking that would make the real Mother Jones retch. Eds. ]
SmartMeter protesters block trucks in Rohnert Park
By RANDI ROSSMANN
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Published: Monday, November 22, 2010 at 5:09 p.m.
Several people Monday morning protested outside of the office of an energy company in Rohnert Park, hired by PG&E to install new utility meters in Sonoma County.
Late Monday morning Rohnert Park police were called because six protesters were blocking the entrance to the business, said Lt. Jeff Taylor.
“We responded and told them to not block the driveway. They cooperated and left…” Taylor wrote in an email.
The protesters were members of the EMF Safety Network, a Sebastopol-based group protesting the new meters.
They gathered outside an office of Wellington Energy Inc. at about 7 a.m. on State Farm Drive.
“Our message to them is this has to stop. We’re protecting our health and our privacy rights,” said Deborah Tavares of Sebastopol.
By DEREK MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Published: Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 6:13 p.m.
Activists who want the California Public Utilities Commission to investigate health concerns raised about PG&E’s SmartMeters received support this week from the commission’s own consumer advocacy division.
PG&E’s Smart Meter Program Takes More Hits
Peter Asmus — November 24, 2010
“Interestingly enough, a day later after the CPUC’s DRA announced its investigation, PG&E offered the possibility of offering customers alternatives to the smart meters, a sign that the utility is now recognizing the toll of the campaign organized by the anti-smart meter crowd.”
“The actions by the CPUC, which has been a trend setter for more than three decades, could encourage a domino effect throughout the U.S.”
My blog published on November 11th (“PG&E Blows it Again”) highlighted the embarrassing resignation of Pacific Gas & Electric’s manager of its SmartMeter program after it was revealed that he was eavesdropping on the online networking of grassroots activists that have been blockading the installation of smart grid infrastructure in northern California. Turns out, this was just a harbinger of things to come.
PG&E is now facing further challenges on the smart grid front, this time from state regulators. In response, the beleaguered utility now appears to be backing off on requiring mandatory installation of its smart meter technology, though the details surrounding any alternatives may not be clear until early next year.
On November 18th, the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA) called for an investigation into alleged public health hazards with PG&E’s smart meters. “Unless the public’s concerns can be put to rest, there is a very great risk that PG&E’s SmartMeter deployment will turn out to be a $2.2 billion mistake that ratepayers can ill afford,” reads the announcement. Ironically enough, this was the same day that a high profile event in San Francisco – home to PG&E’s corporate headquarters – brought together leading scientists from around the world to highlight the latest research on the public health impacts of various wireless technologies — including smart meters.
PG&E Blows it Again
Peter Asmus — November 12, 2010
For a utility often seen as one of the most progressive in the U.S., Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has just endured another embarrassing black eye with its beleaguered smart grid rollout. The company won kudos from national environmental groups when it played a key role in passing the nation’s strongest climate legislation back in 2006, but the company’s allies among environmental and ratepayer groups has now sunk to an all-time low.
Where I live in Marin County, just 45 minutes away from PG&E’s corporate headquarters in San Francisco, the grassroots opposition to smart meters had led to recent protests and an online bulletin board chronicling all of the alleged dangers linked to smart meters. From corporate conspiracy theories to concerns about public health linked to the radiation associated with wireless signals, being for the “smart grid” has suddenly become totally uncool.
The resistance to PG&E has become so dramatic that roughly two dozen local government bodies in Central and Northern California have now launched similar protests, going so far as to set up blockades of installation vehicles in an effort to halt smart meter rollouts.
While the merits of the objections to smart meters may seem far-fetched, PG&E has not done itself any favors. First, there was its support of Proposition 16 on the past June ballot, which was designed to thwart a local clean energy program here in Marin County authorized by state legislation the utility once supported, albeit tepidly. The company wanted to pass a state constitutional amendment to limit local governments from entering power markets, and after investing more than $30 million, lost.
Then there was the San Bruno gas line explosion last September, which made national headlines and which revealed that the utility’s natural gas pipeline infrastructure was inherently unsound – with primitive leak detection systems in place that lagged behind its other California utility counterparts. Four people were killed, including an employee of the California Public Utility Commission (and her 13-year old daughter), and 50 other people are injured.
And now, William Devereaux, senior director of PG&E’s $2.2 million SmartMeter program has resigned after it was discovered that he used the alias “Ralph” while eavesdropping on online discussions taking place between the anti-smart meter crowd. In a bone-head move, Devereaux forgot to remove his real name at the bottom of his email messages signed “Ralph.”
Movement Grows for Halt of Full Body Airport Scanners
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a leading privacy group, has asked a federal appeals court to suspend the U.S. government’s program of introducing full-body imaging machines at airports.
According to the group, the imaging machines constitute a suspicionless search of all airport travelers in an extremely invasive way — so invasive that it violates the reasonable standard contained in the Fourth Amendment.
“The constitutional challenge aside, EPIC also charges that the Department of Homeland Security, in rolling out the devices, violated a host of bureaucratic policies requiring public review, including the Administrative Procedures Act. What’s more, the group claims the machines, among other things, violate the federal Video Voyeurism Prevent Act, which protects against capturing improper images that violate one’s privacy.”
Further, scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) sent a letter to the White House Office of Science and Technology in April warning of potential health risks — including skin cancer — from the scanners, which distribute a dose of radiation to the skin and underlying tissue….
Who Stands to Gain Financially from Full-Body Scanners?
As in so many other instances, our legal and civil rights system is being willfully manipulated and trampled for the sake of private and corporate profits.
In this case, the former homeland security chief and co-author of the PATRIOT act, Michael Chertoff, is now the primary promoter of full-body scanners, and is a paid consultant for the companies that sell them!
As Dr. Orient said in her AAPS article:
“… if your doctor had an ownership interest in the scanner, he might go to federal prison for referring you for a scan. These anti-kickback laws, however, do not apply to the influential government cronies who stand to make a fortune from the scanners.”
It’s just the latest in a very long line of blatant conflicts of interest and corporate agendas that have, and continue to, erode our personal freedoms in the name of “security.”
…As for the humiliation factor that these enhanced TSA security checks present, I would encourage you to contact your local government officials and state representatives, or join the “We Won’t Fly” campaign.
The campaign site also lists 24 additional ways you can make your voice heard on this issue.