Dear Ms. Burt

Ms. Helen Burt
Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer
Pacific Gas & Electric Company
PO Box 997315
Sacramento, California 95899-9900

Second address: PO Box 770000   Mail Code B27L
San Francisco, California  94177

April 29, 2012

Dear Ms. Burt:

We received your unsigned certified letter about your SmartMeter Program. This letter is to inform you that, despite your coercive attempts to force ratepayers into your program, we refuse to have SmartMeters installed at our house. The so-called “choices” you offer are no choices at all. Since we have never had Smart Meters, we find it outrageous that you should now try to charge us initial plus monthly fees for a service that we have paid for and you have delivered trouble free (and at minimal costs) for decades!

To be clear, we never opted into your SmartMeter Program. One cannot be said to “opt in” where coercion and pressure is used. And because we have never opted into it, we cannot opt out. Therefore, your proposed “choices” and associated fees do not apply to us.

Indeed, the choice whether to enroll in the program is properly left to the customer, per the Energy Policy Act of 2005, under Title Xll, Subtitle E, Section 1252, (a), (14), (C). It states:  “Each electric utility subject to subparagraph (A) shall provide each customer requesting a time-based rate with a time-based meter capable of enabling the utility and customer to offer and receive such rate, respectively.”

We hold our position because, among many other compelling reasons including data corruption, cybernetic insecurity, privacy violations, unreliability, lack of billing transparency and discrepancies, fire danger, and negative health impacts, your rollout of Smart Meters is patently illegal for several reasons:

1. The operative FCC Grant of Equipment authorization for SmartMeter installations OWS-NIC507 expressly stipulates that these meters be professionally installed. The personnel hired by your subcontractors to perform meter installations are temporary workers with minimal training, not California licensed electrical contractors.

2. The same FCC stipulations also require that the antenna(s) used for the transmitter must have a minimum “separation distance of 20 centimeters from all persons and must not be colocated . . .”

3. Moreover, “End-users and installers must be provided with antenna installation and transmitter operating conditions for satisfying RF exposure compliance.” Without barriers or written warnings/notices posted near your SmartMeters, PG&E is out of compliance with these FCC requirements.

Yes, we operate life support and other sensitive medical equipment in our home. The growing consensus supported by truly independent studies as well as World Health Organization findings is that Smart Meters operating in conjunction with a Smart Grid pose a serious and unwarranted public health hazard.

Heretofore there has never been a surcharge for having an analog meter. Our meters are the same reliable ones that have been in service here all along, unchanged. If you now insist on extorting us for our refusal to opt into your program,  you will be in further violation of California Public Utilities Code Section 453(b) 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. A person who has exhausted all administrative remedies with the commission may institute a suit for injunctive relief and reasonable attorney’s fees in cases of an alleged violation of this subdivision. If successful in litigation, the prevailing party shall be awarded attorney’s fees.”

We do not consent to PG&E usage of existing on-premises gas and electric  meters as the basis for a claim of entitlement to install digital mesh network antennae and transceivers for third-party data at current meter locations. If PG&E wants to build out a digital wireless mesh network infrastructure for for-profit use by third parties, it can do so in the same way that every competing digital wireless data network operator has done:  by purchasing or leasing property for this purpose, and/or by negotiating and obtaining permission to place equipment on non-PG&E property.

To reiterate, we refuse to opt into your Smart Meter Program and we furthermore refuse to pay extortion fees to retain the reliable analog meters. If you ignore our refusal by proceeding with installation of Smart Meters without our consent, we shall initiate litigation  for recovery of damages. Said damages will occur when your company effectively takes valuable radio transceiver and antenna siting rights on our property without compensation, which we would otherwise be entitled to reserve, to exercise for ourselves, or to sell or rent to parties and on terms of our choosing.

Furthermore, we have not seen or received a copy of your mandatory letter to the CPUC’s Executive director requesting authority to install a SmartMeter at the affected customer’s location. Nor have we seen any written authorization from the CPUC Executive Director approving such installation at any affected customer’s location. We have learned not to trust PG&E’s word without proof. We have seen no such proof to date.

A complaint has been filed with the CPUC over this issue and the promised response has not yet been forthcoming. Until the response is made, we do not consider this issue settled.

When we consider that you long ago had rates approved by the CPUC to cover the costs to read and maintain the standard analog meters, we can only conclude that you wish to increase your profit margins with this program. Besides driving up unemployment in a severe recession, we, having no choice regarding what utility provider we wish to use, find it contrary to the concept and intent of a regulated utility to impose health and security risks on us, your clients, without our agreement.

Since you “fully support individual choice when it comes to the meter at your home,” we’re confident that you will wholeheartedly approve of our choice to send you this notice in lieu of your form, and to continue the service agreement we have had for over 30 years with the analog meters.

Notwithstanding your published schedule of meter readings, your company and any of its subcontractors will be held liable as trespassers for any violations of your written promise, “We’ll call you prior to any required work at your home.”

Sincerely,

_________________________________

Account Number
Cc: CPUC

 

13 thoughts on “Dear Ms. Burt”

  1. Has this brilliant letter been sent to Ms. Burt yet? I notice it is dated April 29th, so wondering if you are waiting until then to send it? If the date is just an error and the letter has been sent, has there been any response? I am fearful if I don’t “opt out” that I’ll end up with a Smart Meter whether I want one or not. While I can’t really afford the opt out fees, I would rather pay them then have to deal with trying to get rid of the meter after installation. Great letter though. Very interested in what, if any, response. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for this clear and powerful letter.
    Regarding Life Support:”Yes, we operate life support and other sensitive medical equipment in our home. The growing consensus supported by truly independent studies as well as World Health Organization findings is that Smart Meters operating in conjunction with a Smart Grid pose a serious and unwarranted public health hazard.”
    Is there a legal definition of “Life Support”? I don’t have sensitive medical equipment, just sensitive human beings and most everything in our home is to enhance our life. Would I need to delete this sentence if I copy the letter? I’d like to leave it in on principle.

    Thank you Sandy, and everyone at EMF Safety Network, for all your hard work against Smart Meters, and dedication to educating us all on how to work with this.
    Sue

  3. HI Sue, an anonymous supporter wrote this great letter. I believe he intended ‘ life support ‘ to mean the sensitive body systems- however it could also mean actual equipment. I don’t think it’s wrong to leave it in- its an analogy, based on strong belief, therefore in my non lawyer opinion- it’s fine. You might also call to confirm your request to keep the analog. Sandi

  4. I just called to Opt Out and refused to pay the fees. He would not process my request without my agreement. I repeated that I will not allow a Smart Meter to be installed and he repeated he cannot process without consent to the fees. So I told him I’ll be sending a letter.
    Wish me luck!

    Sue

  5. I wonder if you called back and tried with a different person? It would be best to get a confirmation.

  6. Life support equipment is also called medical equipment. There are many such machines in operation in private residences every day .
    There is also life safety equipment, like fire alarms and medical alert systems.

  7. Now, that is one great letter.
    I whole heartedly approve of this beautiful writing, and highly recommend it.
    All the other letters that I have seen were pure bunk and garbage, but this one is very good.
    Eliminating the pseudo science and false information will go a long way to help us reform PG&E.
    That way PG&E will have no choice but to respond. With junk science and false information letters, that won’t help anything, but will make us look like a bunch of nut jobs.
    California leads the nation on this matter, and I think we are very fortunate that PG&E has had so much trouble in the last few years, that they have been humbled into being a little more responsive to their customer wants and needs. Lucky for us, but the rest of the country needs our help fighting the SmartMeters.
    Lets take the lead and help our fellow citizens across the country, and lets do it with truth and knowledge, knowledge is power.

  8. Great letter. I will contact PG&E to have them remove the SmartMeter they installed on the front yard side of my house without my consent last year. I only have gas delivery from them and have not used any gas in over two years, but am still charged a “connection” fee. I don’t care if they ‘disconnect’ me for refusal to pay, but I am concerned about the legality of doing so and the potential for future delinquent charges and penalties for not paying. Also, I have an excellent credit rating and don’t want to damage it, so I will probably pay “under protest”, unless someone can advise me or offer me assurances that there would be none of the above mentioned repercussions.
    I am connected to SMUD for electricity. I have not allowed them to install their SmartMeter as it is located in our backyard (right outside our bedroom wall ) and I have denied access. I have not received the official opt out notice from SMUD as yet, but did listen to the board of directors discussion about their sleazy plan to stick it to their customers who have refused installation of the DumbMeters and not even offer or make the rest of their customers aware of the option. I would like to know if I should send a letter similar to this one to SMUD. I am open to suggestions and advice. I did sent a letter to the editor of the Sacramento Bee regarding the SMUD issue, and it was not published. I plan to send a letter to the Sacramento News and Review about this issue.

  9. SMUD received a $127 million grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) for the smart meters. I wonder what the DOE would say if they knew SMUD was ridiculing its customers for wanting to opt out?

  10. The California Public Utilities Code Section 453(b) is not applicable in this situation at all. The section applies ONLY if there is a nexus between the Smart Meter & the protected class. This means different rates are being charged BECAUSE of disability, ancestry, etc. This is clearly not the case. On the other hand, if you DO have sensitive medical equipment that you can prove is impacted by a Smart Meter, you can ask for a REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION to opt out of the program. However, PG&E can ask you to provide expert verification saying this is true.

  11. I just called to opt out and had to talk to a supervisor. The best he could do was to note my agreement with the terms “in protest”.

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