Opt-Out Options – So Cal Utilities Now Included

Resistance is Fertile - Brian Narelle - NarelleCreative.net

Skirmishes Won. Battle Continues.
Our colleagues in Southern California are cheering today at the news that ‘smart meter’ opt-out plans similar to the one authorized by the CPUC for PG&E’s service area will now apply in the Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric service areas as well. Opt-out programs still only apply to individual residences, not businesses. Still include illegitimate, extortionate fees. Still don’t include community-wide opt-out. But, hey. You have to celebrate even partial victories. These are significant wins on the road to a victory for informed democratic choice, and a Wise – as opposed to a so-called ‘Smart’ – Grid.

In this edition, we summarize FYI what we know at the moment about the opt-out state-of-play. Click here and/or scroll down for a MayDay Opt-Out Poster you can print, post and pass on. We link to Sandi Maurer of EMFSafety Network and Josh Hart of StopSmartMeters.org who weigh in with valuable advice on strategy. Other links fill out the picture, reporting on So Cal developments. Finally, an industry blogger gives his idea of how to stem the opt-out tsunami he fears is sweeping the country.

What About ‘smart’ meter Opting Out Options?
by Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle

Wondering what to do
about your certified letter from PG&E about whether or not to choose a ‘smart’ meter or pay to keep an analog meter by May 1?

You have a few choices.
There is no one size fits all solution. I’ll give you some broad outlines here, but you can get more details elsewhere on this blog or StopSmartMeters.org, and EMFSafetyNetwork.org.

Of course we recommend you do NOT accept a ‘smart’ meter under any circumstances because of severe health risks, serious privacy invasion, endangering national security, fire safety risk, electronic interference, accuracy problems and higher bills. And be sure to talk to your neighbors about their choice of meters too because their radiating ‘smart’ meters can effect you adversely.

Here’s the Current ‘Fee Structure’
Currently the fees to opt out for regular customers are $75 up front and $10/mo.
For CARES customers, it’s $10 initially and $5 per month.

CARE income level limit for a 1-2 person household is $31,800.


But, it seems fair to ask…

Why Pay for Opting Out When We Haven’t Opted In As Law Requires?
The Illusory ‘Mandate’

The key on this issue is the concept of ‘time-variant pricing,’ or ‘time-of-use-metering.’ That means that utilities, according to this scheme, will be able to charge variable rates depending on (a) what time the electricity is used and (b) how much, at what price, electricity is available on the grid at that time. This is a hairy, insider-baseball topic. Here’s the essence of what we argued in our Objection to the Proposed Opt-Out Ruling that pre-dated the current decision (link to full PDF). Please pardon the brief lapse into legalese ‘proceeding lingo.’

“1.a) The proposed decision presents a false deadline for mandating choice of meters.

The proposed decision by Commissioner Peevey is premature. By law, customers do not have to decide until Jan. 2014 whether or not to opt out of time variant pricing. Customers should be allowed to have analog meters at least until they are required by law to choose whether they will use time variant pricing on Jan. 1, 2014.

For example from page 21 of the PD:
To ensure that the electric non- communicating meter is able to take advantage of smart grid benefits in the future, it must be capable of capturing interval energy consumption data. While this capability is not needed at this time, it must be available by January 1, 2014. …

The Proposed Decision does not accurately represent the relevant code;
Pursuant to Pub. Util. Code § 745(b)(2) an electrical corporation may employ
mandatory or default time-variant pricing… for residential
customers after January 1, 2014….

The relevant parts of the code read:
Public Utilties Code section 745. (d) On and after January 1, 2014, the commission shall only approve an electrical corporation’s use of default time-variant pricing in a manner consistent with the other provisions of this
part, if all of the following conditions have been met:
(1) Residential customers have the option to not receive service
pursuant to time-variant pricing and incur no additional charges as a
result of the exercise of that option…. [emphasis added)

The law states time-variant cannot be mandatory or by default, but must be offered to residential customers as an option.

SB 695, signed by the Governor on October 11, 2009 and PUC Code 745 (b)(2) and (3) state that the Commission shall not require or permit an electrical corporation to employ mandatory or default time-variant pricing without bill protection for residential customers prior to January 1, 2014 or employ mandatory or default real-time pricing, without bill protection for residential customers prior to January 1, 2020.

Both Public Utility Code and California state law state that:
– The individual residential customer’s decision as to whether or not to opt for ‘time-of-use’ metering is meant to be totally voluntary on the basis of informed consent, and, in any case, does not need to be made until Jan. 2014
– There is no legal requirement that such a customer have a meter capable of capturing time variant data already in place by that date since the residential customer may at that time opt out.
– Unnecessary costs to PG&E will occur from rushing to install unwanted meters that will ultimately be rejected.
– Customers should not be forced to pay for PG&E’s mistake.”

So, Some Options to Consider
You can choose to: 1) opt out, keep your analog meter, (or have your ‘smart’ meter removed) and pay the extortionate fees (which compared to the risks and the increased billing for most ‘smart’ meters, is probably less in the long run) We believe that to be forced to pay to avoid being harmed in the many possible ways by ‘smart’ meters sure looks like a protection racket.  So you should mark ‘paid under protest’ on your check and keep a record. For legal protection, be on the alert not to sign away any of your rights in any meter agreement with PG&E.

2) You can say you refuse to opt out because you never opted in and protest the fees if you still have your analog meter. Lock up your analog meter, don’t allow a PG&E installer onto your property and send them a certified letter saying you refuse to pay their still legally contested fees. You may need to stock up on candles for this option though, because PG&E may either force a ‘smart’ meter on you while you’re not home or cut off your power. If thousands of people do this, however, it will be far more difficult for PG&E to get away with.

3) You can opt out by calling PG&E, but wait to pay your $75 until you see what happens at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC.) PG&E gives you 3 months to pay the up front $75 charge and there are ongoing legal challenges to these fees at the CPUC. EON has been representing ratepayers interests in Phase I, arguing for no cost opt out and to allow people to keep their analog meters rather than what PG&E first wanted which was a ‘smart’ meter with the radio turned off. But we presented evidence showing that wouldn’t solve the many problems caused by digital meters. We also are insisting on Community wide opt out.
(You can read PDFs our arguments to the CPUC here and here if you want all the nitty gritty details.)

Next Phase: Community-Wide Opt-Outs
We’re now getting ready for the next phase. Phase Two of the CPUC proceeding has been ordered to happen, but hasn’t been scheduled yet. In Phase Two Community Wide opt out and the true costs of opt outs are going to be thrashed out.

4) You can support our efforts to defend our right to a Community-Wide opt out and to pay no fees. Marin County as well as Lake County and Santa Cruz County, among 50 other California cities and counties, have legally objected to forced installation of ‘smart’ meters.
Marin, Lake and Santa Cruz actually wrote ordinances and support community wide opt out.

As of now, only residences are being included in the opt out option. This problem of excluding businesses (think health clinics, day care centers, etc.), the radiating data collectors on utility poles and situations where folks and apartments have banks of multiple meters, as well as the problem with being zapped by neighbors’ meters, all make community wide refusal of this harmful wireless mesh network technology necessary.

Pushback Going Viral
The push back against this poorly thought out plan is national and international. Recently another leading cyber security expert, David Chalk, has forcefully spoken out about the incredible security dangers of a wireless grid. He joins other highly informed sources including former CIA director James Woolsey, and the US Inspector General Gregory Friedman, who clearly state the hazards a wireless electricity grid poses to national security. They point out that it’s too hackable and the electricity grid is a known target of cyber warfare. David Chalk says we’d be within three years of a total breakdown of the power grid.
(see full source articles on our blog here. )

“Smart Grid” Plans Endanger Our National Fleet of Aging Nuclear Plants
One of our main worries about all this is that a more vulnerable power grid makes nuclear meltdowns at our already rickety nuclear reactors situated on earthquake faults and in tsunami zones, much more likely since they depend on external power sources to keep the cores and fuel pools cooled. It only takes a few hours with no electricity to cause a meltdown.  Back up emergency diesel power generators at nuclear reactors are notoriously unreliable, and, even if they do work, have a limited amount of fuel stored.

There’s even more: the FBI has recently issued an alert re ‘smart’ meters because of potential hacking. A large utility in Puerto Rico lost hundreds of millions of dollars because a criminal racket provided ‘reprogramming’ services to residences and businesses to lower their bills. [ See: FBI: Smart Meter Hacks Likely to Spread
From Krebs on Security ]

So now, many more people, even in the electrical industry, are finally realizing the problems with the green- washed and over-hyped ‘smart’ grid and ‘smart’ meters. There are much better ways to modernize our electrical grid if Big Brother snooping, ultimate corporate control and quick profit aren’t the driving motives.

PG&E opt out: 1-866-743-0263 or online:

Mary Beth Brangan & James Heddle

Click here to download a PDF of the poster below, or just drag and drop the jpeg.

Emotional Victory in PUC Ruling on SDG&E Smart Meters
By Ken Stone
Blogger and activist Susan Brinchman had been lobbying for opt-out rights for 1 1/2 years.

Read more.

Center for Electrosmog Prevention
ALERT: CPUC Passes SDG&E / SCE Opt-out Plans 4/19/12

(4/19/12) Today, the CPUC Commissioners unanimously passed both SDG&E and SCE opt-out proposals for the utilities’ embattled RF-radiation emitting smart meters. This will impact Southern California customers of San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison, two of the state’s three largest independently operated utilities. Residential customers of both utilities may now officially request that the smart meters be removed from their residences. Edison indicates 28,000 have indicated an interest in opting out, and SDG&E has gone from an estimate of around a hundred to 3,000, to date. We think if the public understood the health, safety, privacy, or security issues better, and there was not a fee, close to 100% would opt-out.

Santa Barbara Tea Party Protects Residents From Expensive-Hazardous Smart Meters
by Stephen Frank on 02/12/2012

…Edison Deploying Smart Meters in Santa Barbara Area
Call and Opt-Out Now – Before it’s too Late.
Courtesy Notice from Consumers Power Alliance
Santa Barbara Tea Party and Culpepper Society, 2/11/12

1. Warning: Act Now or Your Rights will be Violated
According to Doug Malousis, manager of district readiness for SCE, who made the smart meter presentation to Goleta City Council this past Tuesday 2/7, 75 to 100 Corix trucks will invade Santa Barbara area to install smart meters starting later this month. If you or your neighbors, family and friends do not call and get on the Delay Install List, SCE says their installer – Corix – can and will enter your property and replace your safe, reliable analog meter.

2. Edison’s D-Day* Invasion – Announced Schedule
Customer letter mailing re: Edison SmartConnect program: Early February 2012
Cell Relay and District Transition End-point Deployment: February 2012
Mass Deployment Start Date: March ’12 98% Saturation – Target Date: June 2012
Total District Volumes: 86,220 Read more.

From Nina Beety:
Here [is a post] from Southern California on the approval by the PUC Thursday. Same fees, as PG&E. SCE has a digital and analog option — not good. Now, hopefully, Phase 2 will start soon. Multi-unit dwellings, community opt-outs and the fees themselves will be looked at. This next post is long, but it explores the reasons why the opt-out is faulty. Links to articles in the media:
Free at Last: CPUC Approves Smart Meter Opt Out for SCE and SDG&E; Dr. Neil Cherry: RF’s Effect on Neurotransmitters; Public Space Increasingly Irradiated

And finally, here’s how one industry pundit thinks the opt-out tsunami sweeping the country can be stopped: “just address privacy concerns.” Simple, huh?

How to Stop Smart Meter Opt-Out Mandates from Advancing Across America?
April 2, 2012 By Silvio Marcacci 31 Comments

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