Wonder what happened to PG&E’s analog meters?

The Division of  Ratepayer Advocates (DRA) is a consumer advocacy division within the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC).  The DRA’s statutory mission is “to obtain the lowest possible rate for service consistent with reliable and safe service levels.  In fulfilling this goal, DRA also advocates for customer and environmental protections.”

The DRA asked PG&E to explain what they did with the analog meters after they removed them and installed Smart Meters.  PG&E  responded that although they could have gotten $1 each ($1 x millions of meters) but because the vendors wanted the meters “sorted, boxed, and palletized”, PG&E decided selling the meters was not cost-effective. Instead PG&E disposed of millions of analog meters for free to scrap metal recyclers.

“The chosen recyclers were able to pick up the meters at no cost to PG&E and the decision was therefore made to use the cost-free recycling approach to dispose of removed meters.”

See full response from PG&E here: PG&E analog meters.

Nevada PUC set to vote against utility customers

Nevadans arguments for keeping their analog meters have fallen on deaf ears as the three person Nevada Public Utilities Commission is set to vote on Tuesday November 27, to charge utility customers extortion fees to avoid a Smart Meter- only to obtain a radio off Smart Meter.

Radio off Smart Meters still capture intimate details of a customers utility usage and emit radio frequency (RF) radiation onto electrical wiring. Customers want to retain or restore the analog utility meter!  So why is the Nevada PUC ignoring what customers want?

Angel DeFazio, of NV Energy Stop Smart Meters says, “Anyone with any modicum of concern for their health, the health of their children and future children, will be impacted by this regulatory agency. With Commissioners such as these, it’s much more prudent to avoid moving to Nevada than have a future of health problems and higher utility bills.”

Michael Hazard of NV ENergy Stop Smart Meters who criticizes the utility for double dipping also says, “NV PUC needs to hold NVE accountable for the huge profit they are making from their ratepayers. Along with the need to stop rubber stamping requests from NVE. ”

Meanwhile a Nevada customer was left in the dark when her power was shut off for refusing a Smart Meter.  In addition, a recent article recognizes the connection between  installations in Nevada and Smart Meters exploding and catching fire.  According to the article NV Energy Gary Smith admitted to problems with arcing and burnt out appliances, stating, “What happens is sometimes in the panel itself, you can get heating in those clips (where the smart meter’s prongs plug in) if they’re worn out or damaged,” Smith said. “Then we get what we call a ‘hot socket’ and you’ll have arcing and you’ll have a flashover.”

Has the Nevada PUC ever held evidentiary hearing on the safety of Smart Meters? Were the utilities safety claims ever cross examined?  No…just like in California, the utilities safety claims are rubber stamped by the “so called” utility regulators.

Willits Man Refuses to Pay Extortion Fees to Retain Analog Meter, PG&E Threatens Power Cut

Despite the fact that the fees for keeping analog utility meters are still under legal dispute at the CPUC, and serious smart meter safety problems remain unaddressed, PG&E is now threatening to terminate service to its customers who refuse both smart meters and the contested fees.

Tom DeMarchi, a 68 year old Willits resident, has been told by PG&E that he must pay over $100 to retain his analog meter, or else he will have his electricity terminated today. Tom lives in an all-electric house, and although it’s a physical and financial hardship to have the electricity cut off, Tom is willing to live without it rather than submit to PG&E’s extortion fees.

Tom would prefer not to fight with PG&E. He is an environmentalist who pays his bills on time and has reduced his electric usage. He’s willing to self-read his analog meter, still an accepted practice in some areas where meter access is restricted.  However Tom refuses to pay a fee for nothing. He says,

“This is like the Mafia, extortion by crime bosses- Give us money and nothing bad will happen to you. This is wrong, and I am refusing to pay.”

PG&E is forcing customers to pay $75 initially and $10 a month to keep the analog meters, even though the fees are arbitrary and not based on any evaluation of costs. The cost issue is currently under evaluation at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and should be resolved by the spring of 2013.

One key question being evaluated by the CPUC is whether the fees violate section 453(b) of the Public Utility Code, which states: “No public utility shall prejudice, disadvantage, or require different rates or deposit amounts from a person because of ancestry, medical condition, marital status or change in marital status, occupation, or any characteristic listed or defined in Section 11135 of the Government Code.” The CPUC is also evaluating whether the fees violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Sandi Maurer, Director of the EMF Safety Network says that customers should not be charged to have analog utility meters. EMF sensitivity is widely recognized by medical and scientific experts, and is both caused and exacerbated by EMF and wireless radiation. According to Maurer:

“The CPUC and PG&E are failing their statutory obligation to ensure safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates. The punitive fees are a desperate attempt to intimidate customers into keeping smart meters.”

Joshua Hart, Director of Stop Smart Meters! says that PG&E is going too far, risking alienating the public by cutting off services to bill-paying customers, when any proposed fee has not even been finalized by regulators:

“Arbitrarily cutting off power to our senior citizens just as winter approaches should not be taken lightly. PG&E has jeopardized people’s safety before and they are doing it again.”

Smart meter fires and explosions have been widely reported including several within PG&E territory.  In August, a series of 26 smart meter fires in Pennsylvania forced PECO Energy to halt installations, sparking inquiries in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Illinois.  Yet the CPUC has simply not investigated these fires, nor the thousands of complaints of health problems reported to them by members of the public.

It is unclear upon what legal grounds PG&E is terminating service for those refusing to pay the punitive fees.  Last year PG&E backed down under public pressure after terminating utility service to women and families who had their smart meters removed and restored with analogs.

Stop Smart Meters! and the EMF Safety Network collaborated on this coverage.

“Smart” Water Meter or NO water!

City of Baraboo Michagan denies a request by an 80 year old widow and great-grandmother (Audrey) to keep her analog water meter and forces her to choose between a “smart” water meter or no water service at all.

On September 24, 2012 Audrey went before the City’s Public Safety Commission and told them she did not want a “smart” water meter for health, safety and privacy reasons, including that she’s experienced health palpitations in her kitchen, which she believes is caused by an electric Smart Meter that was installed on her home previously without her knowledge or consent.

The committee chair contends, that the “Smart” water meter is not a hazard for Audrey and he makes a motion to deny her request for an analog meter. Another member agrees, stating “I don’t see anything that’s harmful”.  The three member committee unanimously deny her request and then they confirm the timing when her “Smart” meter will be installed (in two weeks). The alternative is her water service will be turned off if she does not accept the new meter.  See the video: http://youtu.be/VfDdSCfsoqY

You can support Audrey by writing to City of Baraboo officials:
Mayor Mike Palm – mpalm@cityofbaraboo.com
City Engineer Tom Pinion – tpinion@cityofbaraboo.com
Utilities Supt Wade Peterson – wpeterson@cityofbaraboo.com
Alder Phil Wedekind – pwedekind@cityofbaraboo.com
Alder Tom Kolb – tkolb@cityofbaraboo.com
Alder Michael Plautz – mplautz@cityofbaraboo.com

In stark contrast to this situation, in Fairfield Iowa, City officials were making plans to halt the wireless water meters, and refunding customers any opt out fees they’d paid. Fairfield Ledger: City to halt plan for radio-read water meters  According to the article the “smart” water meters were transmitting RF radiation every 14 seconds.

PG&E “Ralph” Investigation

This week the “Public Version” of the PG&E “Ralph” investigation was released. Some of the names of PG&E employees are redacted, but the majority of the investigation report is there. CPSD Staff Report – Redacted and Attachments to CPSD Staff Report – Redacted  The PG&E Corporate Security memo states,

“My investigation concluded that Devereaux had been dishonest and less than truthful during the entire investigative process.”

Devereaux, aka Ralph, was the head of the PG&E Smart Meter program and he was responsible for understanding and communicating technical RF specifications to PG&E lawyers.

When the Consumer Protection & Safety Division (CPSD) launched their initial investigation PG&E responded with 102 pdf’s of information. PG&E then redacted the pdf’s and gave them to the San Jose Mercury News and to the SF Chronicle. We obtained copies of the redacted pdfs which were the basis of the CPSD report. What’s not included in the CPSD report is whether or not the CPUC was involved, and to what extent they were involved. One email address, which was exposed in an open header was CPUC representative Mazia Zafar.

Screen shot open header of email between Zafar and Devereaux

The CPSD has scheduled a settlement conference for August 30. Will post more on this investigation as it unfolds. Meanwhile can anyone guess the names that are redacted in the “public version” of the CPSD staff report?

For more information on the PG&E investigation see: PG&E’s spying may cost them

PG&E cuts power for Smart Meter refusal

This week PG&E has cut power to at least four homes for customers who removed Smart Meters and restored the analog utility meter. Bianca in Santa Cruz county told KSBW news that she restored the analog because her children, who’s bedroom is near the utility meter, were suffering from headaches and bloody noses since the Smart Meter was installed.

Accusing Diane of Calaveras County of tampering, PG&E workers turned off this grandmothers electricity on Monday shortly after noon. Diane removed the Smart Meter and restored the analog meter because she was having sleeping problems, heart palpitations and tinnitus. When PG&E arrived she called the sheriff who told her PG&E was supposed to show her the work orders and PG&E refused to show her any work orders.

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) President Michael Peevey told a PG&E customer that he could have an analog meter back at the Commission business meeting on September 22, 2011.  EMF Safety Network lawyer Rose Zoia sent the following letter to PG&E in response.

Santa Cruz Supervisors recently grilled PG&E representative Wendy Sarsfield about PG&E’s actions calling them unbelievable and unacceptable. (see video)

PG&E Rep. “As soon as we can replace with a Smart Meter, the power will be restored.”

Supervisor: ” So you’re holding them hostage in order to make the point.”

PG&E Rep. ” This situation is because of the public safety issue that’s involved.”

Supervisor:” Its just a couple of weeks before the holidays. I would seriously hope that PG&E would take another look at their policy.

Supervisor:'”This can’t be right that we can have a public utility refusing utility service to somebody who wants service, who will pay for service, who’s wiling to have an analog meter. I am having trouble believing that that is actually a legal position for PG&E to take.”

With  the recent release of Jerry Days’ video Replacing a Smart Meter and the threat of more customers removing Smart Meters in California its likely this recent show of force by PG&E is an attempt to intimidate and quash the peoples movement to restore analog meters.  In a recent SF Chronicle article PG&E spokesperson Jeff Smith admitted, “If this dangerous practice is allowed to continue without some sort of consequence, other people could do the same thing, and that’s what we’re trying to deter.”


PG&E’s Big Confession

In April of 2010 the EMF Safety Network filed an application with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) asking for hearings on health impacts, including “Smart” Meter radio frequency (RF) emissions data. We wrote:

“PG&E’s paltry, inconsistent and contradictory information on RF emissions from Smart Meters is unbelievable and at odds with other RF expert findings.  Several PG&E bulletins and spokespersons make varying claims on how often the Smart Meter electric meters transmit RF, anywhere from every hour to every 4 to 6 hours to 2% or 4% of the time.

We just wanted the facts, but the CPUC rubber stamped PG&E’s claims of RF safety and dismissed our application stating:

” All radio devices in PG&E’s Smart Meters are licensed or certified by the FCC and comply with all FCC requirements.”

“Smart Meters produce RF emissions far below the levels of many commonly used devices.”

PG&E provides information from Richard Tell Associates on their website titled, “Supplemental Report on An Analysis of Radiofrequency Fields Associated with Operation of the PG&E SmartMeter Program Upgrade System”  This report states Smart Meters transmit at 1 watt with 0 antennae gain. It claims:

The 1 watt transmitter is configured to transmit data approximately once every four hours back to the company so its duty cycle is very small (the actual data transmission duration during any four hour period will vary, however, depending on how often a particular meter transmitter acts as a repeater for other nearby meters).

From PG&E’s Smart Meter FAQ: SmartMeters™ utilize a low power (1 watt) wireless radio to send customer energy-usage information wirelessly to PG&E for data collection.….Do electric SmartMeters™ constantly emit RF? PG&E answers:

No. SmartMeters™ communicate intermittently, with each RF-signal typically lasting from 2 to 20 milliseconds. These intermittent signals total, on average, 45 seconds per day. For the other 23 hours and 59 minutes of the day, the meter is not transmitting any RF.

In a letter to Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, the FCC writes, “the devices [Smart Meters] normally transmit for less than one second a few times a day and consumers are normally tens of feet or more from the meter face…”

All right, enough with the false claims! Just give us some real facts!  Recently CPUC administrative law judge Amy Yip-Kikugawa ordered all investor owned utilities (IOU’s ) to answer Smart Meter radio frequency (RF) questions. PG&E’s answers are an astounding confession!  Question 2: How many times in total (average and maximum) is a smart meter scheduled to transmit during a 24-hour period?

PG&E says the average number of RF pulses for the electric meter would be about 10,000, per meter, per day and the maximum number over 190,000.

90% of these pulses are for the mesh network maintenance (signals bouncing from homes) and only 6 pulses are for reading the meter data. This doesn’t include Home Area Network transmissions.

How about peak power figures?  The PG&E electric meter transmits at 900MHz with 1 watt of transmit power. It has an antennae gain 4.0 dBi for a peak level power of 2.5 watts.  That’s two and a half times more than their safety data stated.

The wireless gas meters transmit between 4 and 5 times a day at 132-794 mW.

Answers provided by San Diego Gas and Electric and So Cal Gas were similar, although PG&E electric meters appear to be five times stronger, just like Sage Associates found in their study.

Southern California Edison missed the deadline to provide answers to the CPUC , but they will be posted here once they do.

Locking ring cut by SCE

Deborah Tavares, a leader in the nationwide Refuse Smart Meter movement, who owns property in Southern California, secured a metal locking ring around her analog meter to protect it from being  replaced with a ‘Smart’ Meter.  She also changed the lock on the cabinet where the meter was enclosed.  Many people have taken similar action to protect their analog meters.  Today, however, Southern California Edison (SCE) cut off both the cabinet lock and the analog locking ring, forcibly installing the new meter.  Deborah said, ” This is tyrannical take over, a technocracy takeover- we are at war!”

SCE has been ordered to provide a delay list by the CPUC, but they have not complied.