PULLING THE PLUG ON 'SMART METERS' – Some Recent Developments

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Boneheaded Boondoggle Bogs Down
Despite its ‘smartiness’ logo, the wireless ‘AMI’ metering rollout for electricity, gas and water utilities bids fair to go down as one of the stupidest corporate/government mis-steps since nuclear power, the repeal of Glass–Steagall and a casino economy based on the trading of toxic ‘derivatives.’ Like ‘truthiness’ and ‘hedginess,’ ‘smartiness’ just doesn’t cut it in the Real World.

Irate ratepayers around the country and around the world are waking up and pushing back, whilst the industry pundit/morons and regulatory revolving-door stooges scratch their heads in consternation and bemused bewilderment. How do these guys manage to hold their jobs? (Just a rhetorical question.)

[ Here’s what we filed today as ‘parties’ in Phase 2 of the CPUC Opt-Out Proceeding in support of a Motion to Stay filed by attorneys for the County of Marin, Fairfax and the Alliance for Human and Environment Health. PDF here. ]

This edition surveys some – but not all – of burgeoning recent smeter developments. Stay tuned for more on this issue. Plus our upcoming reports from last week’s Nuclear Safety Summit in Washington. DC.

First, here’s our coverage of yesterday’s ratepayer protest against ‘smart’ meter opt out fees in front of stockholders walking into PG&E’s stockholders’ annual meeting in San Francisco. Scroll down for more…

Irate Ratepayers at PG&E Stockholders Meeting

Angry ratepayers demonstrated at the entrance to a PG&E stockholders meeting May 14, 2012 in San Francisco. Signs, chants and speakers laid out their objections to the wireless ‘smart meter’ rollout and the fees proposed for opting out. Activists delivered over 3000 petitions expressing outrage at the fees.

Protesters demand end to SmartMeter opt-out fees
Michael Finney

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — PG&E’s shareholders meeting took place in San Francisco Monday. Protestors were there too, armed with petitions opposed to the utility’s practice of charging customers to opt out of its SmartMeter program.
They came, they shouted and they delivered nearly 3,000 signatures. But they left wondering if their actions will change anything…. Read more.

California Looks Harder at the ‘Smart Grid’ (CPUC’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates new analysis)
Article from 5/2/2012

“Regulators who don’t approve smart stuff are by elimination reducing themselves to certificators of dumb stuff. When nuclear optimism peaked, backers said that its power would be “too cheap to meter.” The bill for the smart grid is turning out to be too confusing to meter, but like in the nuclear heyday, the momentum is irresistible.”

From Josh Hart at StopSmartMeters.org:
Pics and brief report from yesterday…

As PG&E shareholders and employees walked up to the firm’s headquarters at 77 Beale St. in San Francisco to attend the annual shareholders meeting yesterday, they were confronted by a raucous ratepayer revolt, with chants of “Our Health is NOT for Sale” and “We say NO FEE Charge the Utility.” Many entering were visibly uncomfortable. Voge Smith, a Novato resident whose petition demanding a halt to opt out fees has generated nearly 3000 signatures- spoke of widespread health problems from smart meters, and was allowed inside the building with ABC 7 On Your Side reporters, who aired this report.

Thank you to all who attended the protest and joined the growing call for an end to extortionate and punitive opt out fees (and an end to the smart grid!). If you couldn’t attend the protest but still want to contribute, please consider a donation to help us keep fighting smart meters.
Media links:

Horrible Opinion from the Marin IJ

Dorman- sm’s not mandatory

Vt. utilities see growing ‘smart meter’ opposition

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Worries about health effects, privacy and cost are fueling growing opposition to wireless, digital “smart meters” that utilities around the country are installing at homes and businesses and touting as key energy conservation and grid reliability tools.

Vermont appears poised to take an unusually aggressive stance. While several states have allowed utilities to charge a fee to customers who want to opt out of smart meters, Vermont’s governor is expected soon to sign legislation that would allow customers to say no without paying anything extra, at least until more studies are completed on the real costs of not deploying the meters.

“They’re the ones who came up with this,” Sen. Robert Hartwell, D-Bennington and a leading supporter of the free opt-out, said in an interview. “The utilities didn’t really care what the ratepayers thought. So since they’re the ones who are trying to impose the new system, we think they’re the ones who should absorb the costs.”

When You Text Till You Drop
Published: May 12, 2012

I DON’T know about you, but I’ve always found the debate about what our mobile devices are doing to us — to our behaviors, our manners, our minds — at least as interesting as reports about what we’re doing with these devices.

CPUC Urged PG&E to Crack Down on SmartMeter Resisters
Posted on April 30, 2012 by onthelevelblog

Marzia Zafar of the CPUC Urged PG&E to Crack Down on Customers Who Refuse Installation
Yesterday, we learned from the Chronicle that PG&E plans to disconnect residents who refuse to pay their extortionate opt out fees. No consultation with the public about our energy system, no hearings to get to the bottom of why tens of thousands of Californians have suffered (in some cases devastating) medical conditions when the smart meter was installed. No investigation into widespread reports of smart meter fires. No delay in the fees pending resolution of unresolved procedural issues. Just an arrogant ultimatum from one of the largest investor owned utilities in the country.

Shocking Way Electric Utilities Are Making Us Pay for the Smart Grid
By Rich Smith, The Motley Fool
Posted 5:45AM 05/15/12 Posted under: Energy, Consumer All

Are you ready for the smart electricity revolution?

On July 20, 2006, California’s Public Utilities Commission approved a proposal by Pacific Gas & Electric (PCG) to begin phasing out conventional electricity meters (those big gray boxes on the side of your house, with the dials that spin around) and replace them with “smart” meters.

Relaying data on electricity usage wirelessly and in real time, the devices should in theory help utilities such as PG&E charge consumers more when they use electricity at times of greatest demand. This would, for example, encourage users to dial back the A/C on hot summer days.

Conversely, consumers would get a break on their bills for smart electricity usage. You could pay lower rates for doing your dishes and drying your laundry overnight, and for charging your plug-in electric car at nonpeak hours as well.

It’s all part of a $29 billion, nationwide plan to make electricity usage smarter, by helping to build the “smart grid.”
And it’s failing because of greed. Specifically, the greed of electric utility companies such as PG&E.

Boardman: Smart grid initiative makes us all unwitting guinea pigs

If your state was installing a new technology that would impact virtually everyone, you might assume your state was acting based on the most complete and current science available to protect everyone’s health.
If your state was Vermont and it was intent on installing wireless technology in every home and business, you’d need to know that your state is acting based on very limited science, most of it more than 25 years out of date, with little concern for anyone’s health.

Making this a matter of growing public concern is the state-sanctioned installation of “SmartMeters” (trade name) that expose people to radiation that has unknown consequences, but is suspected of causing a variety of physical ailments, from sleep disturbance and headaches to brain damage and cancer.

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