Opt-Out, Opt-In, or Ban: That's the 'Smart' Meter Question

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By Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle

Transparency… Kind-of
Below is our video coverage of the second pre-hearing conference on the CPUC proceeding regarding PG&E’s ‘smart meter’ opt-out proposal. First, some background.

On May 31. 20011 the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified radiofrequency (RF) as a class 2B Carcinogen, along with lead, DDT, etc. Despite this, PG&E is insisting that it must install RF-emitting gas and electric meters onto homes and businesses. But one tribal council, 44 California counties, cities and local jurisdictions, including Bolinas, together representing millions of citizens, plus thousands who filed formal complaints, want no part of it. So the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) forced PG&E to come up with an opt-out plan.

But in response, the only choices PG&E wants to give ratepayers is to have the wireless RF function turned off, for a hefty charge both upfront and monthly, and/or have the meter installed some distance away from the residence for a hefty charge. In other words, PG&E wants to charge ratepayers plenty for not putting a class 2b carcinogen onto a customer’s house. Extortion anyone?

Plus, neither option would address the massive radiation exposure from all the neighbor’s mesh-networked signals. Nor does it remove the ‘dirty electricity’ generated by the ‘smart’ meter’s switching mode power supply, which causes high frequency transients through power lines that are at least partially the cause of the sickness some people are experiencing in relation to recently installed wireless ‘smart’ meters. And neither option would address the serious privacy, security, safety and electronic interference issues.

EON is an official ‘party’ or ‘intervenor’ in the quasi legal proceeding deliberating this proposed opt out plan along with the EMF Safety Network, Marin County Association of Realtors, Marin County, Lake County, Fairfax and a number of other county and municipal governments and agencies and citizen organizations.

Being an intervenor in this case means you take the side of the public against the utility interests where they are asking the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) to give them the authority to charge ratepayers for something or to establish policy.

Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric were invited to participate in this pre-hearing conference, but as of now, will not be a part of this proceeding focusing on the PG&E opt-out proposal.

Although a Channel 7 cameraman was taping intermittently, we were only given permission to tape after much haggling and showing the judge a copy of the California Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act‘s language with the key sections highlighted. (Thanks to Barbara George, Women’s Energy Matters)

The Act states in part, “…It is the public policy of this state that public agencies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business and the proceedings of public agencies be conducted openly so that the public may remain informed.

“In enacting this article the Legislature finds and declares that it it the intent of the law that actions of state agencies be taken openly and that their deliberation be conducted openly,

“The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created….”

The Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act, Government Code Section 11120-11132 (section 11124.1-a) reads: “Any person attending an open and public meeting of the state body shall have the right to record the proceedings with an audio or video tape recorder or a still or motion picture camera in the absence of a reasonable finding by the state body that the recording cannot continue without noise, illumination, or obstruction of view that constitutes, or would constitute, a persistent disruption of the proceedings” [For the full act see here and here

In response to our objection, the judge then called a recess and conferred with a CPUC legal advisor, taking our copy of the act to deliberate. All the other utilities conferred with their own lawyers, asking us for the exact legal citations. They did not seem pleased at the prospect of having us record the entire proceeding and post it unedited, as was our stated intention.

When the judge returned, she announced we would be allowed to tape that meeting only. After that meeting, she ruled, we would not be able to tape, but they would have it webcast. We were told that, if they were ever unable to webcast, they would allow us to then tape again, otherwise not. By our reading, the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act does not state that webcasting by the state body cancels the right of participants to record the proceeding.

Unfortunately, before we were allowed to begin taping, we missed some really good comments from the intervenors. Anyway, here – in two parts – is what we were able to record. See below for what you can do.

Our video coverage of the second pre-hearing conference on PG&E’s ‘smart meter’ opt-out proposal is a rare peek at a very contentious issue between the public and utilities. Let us know what you think at info@eon3.net

Protect your analog meter! Put up signs and padlock it since PG&E has been known to ‘lose’ people on their delay list and sneak installation if people aren’t home.

But do get on the PG&E ‘smart’ meter installation delay list call 1-877-743-7378, Call now!

And file written complaints to the CPUC c/o Public Advisor, 505 an Ness Ave. Rm. 2103, San Francisco, CA 94102 These letters are VERY important.

Follow up by calling the CPUC Commissioners:
Mike Florio 415-703-1840
Catharine Sandoval 415-703-2593
President Michael Peevey 415-703-3703
Timothy Simon 415-703-1407
Mark Ferron 415-703-2782

To help keep EON’s work going, please check out all the support options on our Donation Page or you can also send a check made out to EON to EON, POB 1047, Bolinas, CA