PG&E refunds smart meter “opt-out” fees to EMF disabled customer

On April 16, Pacific Gas and Electric refunded Smart Meter “opt-out” fees paid by the family of Nina Beety who is disabled by electromagnetic sensitivity. Beety requested disabled accommodation from PG&E to have analog electromechanical meters on her family’s home when the company initiated its wireless Smart Meter roll-out in her community. She explained that EMF-emitting devices cause her disabling health effects. PG&E ignored Beety’s requests for disabled accommodation, and refused to allow residential customers to have analog, non-digital meters without paying a so-called “opt-out” fee. The family was forced to pay $415. in fees to avoid Smart Meters on their home. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits surcharge fees for disabled people.
When PG&E filed for bankruptcy in 2019, Beety’s family then filed a proof of claim with the Bankruptcy Court for the “opt-out” fees they paid, stating the claim basis as “Smart Meter opt-out fees that were unlawful surcharges against a disabled person (ADA Title II Technical Assistance Manual, II-1.3000 Relationship to title III)”
PG&E objected to this claim, and on February 25, 2021, asked the court to expunge it. “The simpler Customer Bar Date Notice made clear that Customers were not required to file Proofs of Claim for ordinary and customary refunds, overpayments, billing credits, deposits, or similar billing items. The Customer No Liability / Passthrough Claims listed on Exhibit 1 arise from either (1) Customer Security Deposits or (2) Claims that arise from Customer Billing Disputes…Accordingly, for the reasons set forth herein, the Customer No Liability / Passthrough Claims should be expunged because, in accordance with the Bar Date Order, they will be resolved in the ordinary course.”
On March 24, 2021, Beety submitted this timely Response to the Bankruptcy Court: Our claim is not an “ordinary and customary” customer billing item. We have a special type of billing claim dispute that rises on the fact that I am disabled, and unlawful charges were placed on the household account that interfered with my disabled accommodation. Those unlawful charges were surcharges that are not allowed under the ADA/ADAA and FHAA. This is a meritorious disabled rights claim that was never resolved. It should be resolved by a full and complete refund. Closing my claim would be yet another burden, abrogating my civil rights. Please ensure that my rights are protected.
Faced with a federal judge who had read Beety’s response, PG&E withdrew its objection to the family’s claim to the Bankruptcy Court and did not further contest it (recorded in Judge Dennis Montali’s ruling, April 5, 2021).
On April 20, Beety’s family received a full refund check from PG&E for the $415. surcharge fee, plus $24.17 interest which they had not requested. It is noteworthy that this refund was not a percentage of claim or pennies on the dollar which bankruptcy claims often receive, but a complete refund with interest.
It took facing a bankruptcy judge in court for PG&E to quit fighting and refund fees that were unlawful surcharges under the ADA and that discriminate against disabled people.
Beety said, “With this action, PG&E and other utilities must now halt their practice of charging unlawful “opt-out” surcharge fees to customers disabled by electromagnetic sensitivity or who have other EMF-sensitive medical conditions, and the companies must refund all unlawful surcharge fees already paid by these disabled customers. Utilities must allow the simple, readily achievable, and reasonable disabled accommodation of analog, electromechanical, non-digital utility meters for all disabled persons who require them.”
Remember in 2015 when PG&E was threatening to turn off power to customers refusing to pay their “opt-out” fees.

California Wildfires and EMF radiation pollution


In Sonoma County California we’ve had 3 major wildfires in the past two months, evacuations, and weeks of toxic smoke. This deadly scenario has played out for several years in a row and the damage to lives, homes, nature, and towns throughout California is unprecedented.  California’s investor owned utility, PG&E, has been found guilty for the majority of the previous fires, including many lives lost.

In 2019 Business Insider reported, “Over 1,500 California fires in the past 6 years — including the deadliest ever — were caused by one company: PG&E.” 

National Geographic reports on the science connecting wildfires to climate change, stating: “Increasing heat, changing rain and snow patterns, shifts in plant communities, and other climate-related changes have vastly increased the likelihood that fires will start more often and burn more intensely and widely than they have in the past.”

What if there are other unexamined reasons for the intensity of these wildfires? Or maybe a combination of reasons? How might the following be a factor? 
 
  • Smart grid equipment that emits microwaves was installed on utility power lines starting around 2013 throughout California.
  • Utility smart meters have caused fires at the meter or in an appliance. Smart meters transmit pulsed radiation every few seconds have dramatically increased microwave pollution. 
  • Trees and plants are stressed, drier, and more fire prone from years of microwave radiation pollution from cell towers, cell phones, smart meters, etc. 
  • Stressed trees and plants emit terpenes which makes them more fire prone.
Scientists conclude plants are stressed by microwave radiation. Here are a few studies:
  •  Eklipse Report: The impacts of artificial Electromagnetic Radiation on wildlife (flora and fauna) “Terpene emission was reported to be enhanced by EMR and could also be considered as a marker of stress perception.” https://www.eklipse-mechanism.eu/documents/15803/0/EMR-KnowledgeOverviewReport_FINAL_27042018.pdf/1326791c-f39f-453c-8115-0d1c9d0ec942

  • Radiofrequency radiation injures trees around mobile phone base stations “Statistical analysis demonstrated that electromagnetic radiation from mobile phone masts is harmful for trees.” https://www.researchgate.net/publication/306435017_Radiofrequency_radiation_injures_trees_around_mobile_phone_base_stations

  • Influence of microwave frequency electromagnetic radiation on terpene emission and content in aromatic plants “There was a direct relationship between microwave-induced structural and chemical modifications of the three plant species studied. These data collectively demonstrate that human-generated microwave pollution can potentially constitute a stress to the plants.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25050479/

  • Plant Responses to High Frequency Electromagnetic Fields “Indeed, numerous metabolic activities (reactive oxygen species metabolism, α- and β-amylase, Krebs cycle, pentose phosphate pathway, chlorophyll content, terpene emission, etc.) are modified, gene expression altered (calmodulin, calcium-dependent protein kinase, and proteinase inhibitor), and growth reduced (stem elongation and dry weight) after low power (i.e., nonthermal) HF-EMF exposure.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4769733/

City of Sebastopol defends senior residents against PG&E smart meters

Half of the gardens in front of mobile park homes have been removed for new electrical work.

A majority of residents from Fircrest Mobile Home Park in Sebastopol signed a petition asking the City of Sebastopol to help them avoid the installation of “smart meters” and to retain analog meters in their senior community. PG&E has been working in the mobile home park since July replacing utility lines in order to switch all homes from sub-metered analogs to smart meters.

In support of the residents’ petition, the City of Sebastopol sent a letter to the mobile home park management with a copy to PG&E, with a reminder that in 2013 the City of Sebastopol adopted a temporary moratorium on smart meter installations and related equipment.

The letter stated that the park’s initiation of the electrical work has resulted in residents facing the need to meet an unanticipated fee in order to “opt out” of smart meter installations that they did not request. They ask, “The Sebastopol City Council asks your cooperation in either paying the opt fee for the residents of the park, and/or your request of PG&E that they retain the analog meters.” 

The letter pointed out that Fircrest Park’s residents can be considered “Captive” in the mobile home park by reason of their dual status as both home owners and tenants which the City maintains is both unfair and possibly a violation of the protections of the California Mobile Home Residency Law.

81 residents of Fircrest Mobile Home Park have signed the petition (from 68 out of 87 total households) to oppose smart meters. Many believe smart meters would negatively affect the aesthetics and significantly decrease the value of their home. As park residents learned more about how smart meters emit pulsed microwave radiation 24/7 very near to their bedrooms and living quarters, they have expressed a growing concern about the negative health and safety impacts of these devices.  The fact that Fircrest Mobile Home Park is a high density senior residence adds to the concern about the cumulative effect of so many microwave emitting devices in such a small area.

Peer-reviewed scientific research shows that exposure to wireless smart meters is associated with increased health problems. Dr. Martin Pall reports, “18 more recent epidemiological studies, provide substantial evidence that microwave EMFs from cell/mobile phone base stations, excessive cell/mobile phone usage and from wireless smart meters can each produce similar patterns of neuropsychiatric effects, with several of these studies showing clear dose-response relationships…Among the more commonly reported changes are sleep disturbance/insomnia, headache, depression/depressive symptoms, fatigue/tiredness, dysesthesia, concentration/attention dysfunction, memory changes, dizziness, irritability, loss of appetite/body weight, restlessness/anxiety, nausea, skin burning/tingling/dermographism and EEG changes.” See also this smart meter study. 

Media and numerous customer complaints reported electrical costs skyrocketed after smart meter installation.  Smart meter malfunction has also been implicated in smart meter fires and burned out appliances.

Sebastopol’s General Plan includes protective electromagnetic field (EMF) policies; for example Community Health and Wellness Policy 4-2: “minimize unsafe EMF radiation levels near sensitive areas such as schools, hospitals, playgrounds, high density residential, and libraries when planning for electrical transmission facilities repair and new construction.” (page 10-6 in the General Plan.)

11/27/2019 UPDATE:  Gas analog meters have been installed and electric analog meters are currently being installed. Thank you PG&E!

Insects in crisis: Murder by Emoji

The Washington Post recently reported “‘Hyperalarming’ study shows massive insect loss” stating, “Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations. A new report suggests that the problem is more widespread than scientists realized. Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico, the study found, and the forest’s insect-eating animals have gone missing, too.” 

The report blames climate warming for the declines. But what about the toxic Electro soup (cell phones, cell towers, smart meters, IoT, radar cars, etc.) as a potential cause?  In this video below, the link between the alarming insect decline and electromagnetic radiation is investigated.

Free smart meter opt out for North Carolina

Great big thanks to activists in North Carolina who won a free utility smart meter opt out provided they submit a simple note from a doctor to the utility.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) decision states, “…the Commission believes it is inappropriate to require customers who maintain that they need to avoid exposure to RF emissions to the extent possible to protect their health to pay [Duke Energy Carolinas] DEC’s proposed smart meter opt-out charges.

Andrew McAfee, an activist leader in this case said: “The removal of Duke’s opt-out fees stops that added insult to injury for many who suffer debilitating electrosensitivity conditions and their associated health costs,”  “Most importantly, the NCUC order recognizes our medical doctor’s proper role in determining what is healthy, not the FCC.”

The note from the doctor does not need to explain any diagnosis or symptoms, but would need to be signed and notarized and simply state:

“I am a medical physician licensed by the North Carolina Medical Board. ______________(Name of Duke Energy Customer) must avoid exposure to RF emissions to the extent possible to protect ______ (his or her) health.”

In California, and in other states, utilities charge extortion fees to avoid smart meters. This case in North Carolina sets an important precedent.

More: Landmark NCUC decision

New Mexico regulators reject smart meters!!

New Mexico Public Utilities Commission has rejected a plan to install a half million smart meters. “The plan presented in the Application does not provide a net public benefit and it does not promote the public interest,” wrote the Commission. Whereas every other US state with rare exception, is forcing smart meters on residents, or charging extortion opt-out fees, Santa Fe regulators have historically upheld the public’s best interest by rejecting smart meters!

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Chairman Sandy Jones cited “rate increases, an excessive opt-out fee, and layoffs as deal breakers”.

This decision is in stark contrast to what the California Public Utilities Commission did in 2010, which was to partner with the utilities and rapidly deploy millions of smart meters with no safety review, and despite thousands of complaints. There are four appeals filed in 2015 still pending in this case.

According to New Mexico activist and author Arthur Firstenberg, “The decision means there will not be smart meters in the near future in New Mexico’s metropolitan areas: Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Clayton, Ruidoso, Tularosa, Alamogordo, Silver City, Lordsburg and Deming.”

Thank you to all the activists and educators who helped make this happen. Great big Congratulations!