Letter to the Press Democrat: PG&E Smart Meters vs. Sebastopol

PG&E met with the Press Democrat (PD) editorial board last week regarding Sebastopol’s ban on Smart Meters. Following that meeting the PD printed two misinformed editorials, both heavy handed against Sebastopol.

Chris Coursey in “Feeling Sorry for Goliath” writes, “Meter readers are threatened with citations and fines for doing their jobs.” This is wrong. Only installers have been warned not to deploy Smart Meters in Sebastopol. Meter readers love Sebastopol because they still have a job.

Coursey writes, “Sebastopol seems to be getting pulled around by the nose by a small group of anti-technology folks known as the Electromagnetic Field Safety Network.” Our name is the EMF Safety Network and we are not anti-technology. We advocate the use of precaution with electromagnetic fields (EMF’s) and radiofrequency radiation (RF) (wireless), and advocate corded and wired alternatives to protect public health and the environment. Our work is based on decades of science.

According to Coursey 10% of Sebastopol has opted out of Smart Meters. That means there are hundreds of people in Sebastopol that are concerned enough about Smart Meter hazards to pay PG&E’s extortion fees not to have them.

Coursey states the World Health Organization (WHO) says there’s no evidence of harm. Wrong again. In May of 2011 the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the WHO, classified wireless as a 2b carcinogen, same as DDT and lead.

Coursey says Sebastopol is rethinking its moratorium. The city manager stated there was “zero consideration” of repealing the ordinance.

In the other article, “Let’s not wage war on PG&E workers”, the editor stated Helen Burt, PG&E’s chief customer officer said, “we don’t want to be at war with our communities”.

PG&E threatened a lawsuit against Sebastopol, refused to mark gas lines, and halted commercial work, including the $23 million Barlow project. These are strong-arm tactics and intimidation.

PG&E has been at war with many communities over the last three years. Since 2009 more than 50 California local jurisdictions have opposed Smart Meters, and fifteen have made the deployment illegal. Supervisor Carrillo asked for a moratorium, safety studies and a free opt-out. The PD even called for a moratorium!

PG&E responded by accelerating Smart Meter deployment and forcing installations, without informed consent or full disclosure about how the meters work, and what they are capable of, including surveillance and profiling. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is already discussing how to access the data Smart Meters collect and how to make it available to third parties.

In 2009, Bakersfield residents complained about skyrocketing bills and PG&E defended their Smart Meters as accurate. Two years later PG&E admitted billing errors due to Smart Meter defects.

In 2010, PG&E said Smart Meters transmit radiation once an hour. In 2011, the CPUC ordered PG&E to provide the specifications and PG&E admitted Smart Meters can transmit up to 190,000 times a day!

The head of PG&E’s Smart Meter program was caught trying to  infiltrate our group by lying about his identity. The CPUC safety division investigated and found the spying was a system wide problem within PG&E.

PG&E and the CPUC have refused to address Smart Meter health and fire safety impacts.

Feel sorry for PG&E? I don’t think so.

Sebastopol’s unanimous decision to ban Smart Meters is applauded by many people in Sebastopol and beyond. According to Sebastopol’s ordinance (available on their website), Smart Meter technology subjects residents to “privacy, security, health, accuracy and consumer fraud risks.”

It’s shameful the PD editors have been influenced by PG&E. The PD should be a source of accurate information, not more of PG&E’s disinformation.

Sandi Maurer
PO BOX 1016
Sebastopol CA 95473

*Links added for the website post.


PG&E to escalate Smart Meter deployment in Sebastopol?

Sebastopol banned Smart Meter installation and the police have enforced the ban by warning an installer who left the premises.  If the installer does not leave, it’s a $500 fine.

Meanwhile PG&E and the CPUC are using intimidation against Sebastopol to force the Smart Meter deployment.  The CPUC attorney Frank Lindh sent this letter (re:Sebastopol City Council Res. 1057  to the City.  This is wrong, especially considering there is a proceeding before the CPUC (A.11-03-014) to evaluate community wide Smart Meter opt-out.  Furthermore, the CPUC statutory mission is to ensure safe and reliable utility service, which they have not done.

Recent news (told to a EMF Safety Network member by a meter reader) is that PG&E plans to have a corporate security meeting tomorrow with the goal of ramping up Smart Meter deployment in Sebastopol.

If you see either PG&E or Wellington or other Smart Meter installers in Sebastopol:

  • Call the Police 829-4400
  • Carry a camera and record the situation.
  • Sonoma West Times and News: 823-7845
  • Press Democrat: news tip: 526-8585 Derek Moore: 521-5336
  • KTVU 510-874-0242

Please let other people in Sebastopol know about the ban and the actions they can take!

Sebastopol makes Smart Meter installations illegal- $500 fine

Try to install a Smart Meter in Sebastopol and you could get a $500 fine.

The Sebastopol City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance banning Smart Meter installation in Sebastopol yesterday.  They also adopted a resolution asking the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to allow communities to opt-out of Smart Meters at no additional cost.

Sebastopol became the 15th local jurisdiction to make Smart Meter installations illegal, along with Fairfax, Ojai, Santa Cruz, and Marin, Lake, Mendocino and Santa Cruz counties and others.

Previously Sebastopol had asked PG&E for a moratorium on installations until the CPUC proceeding was complete. PG&E wasn’t complying. Meanwhile their contractors, Wellington were sending installers into Sebastopol, with many apartment buildings and some areas already installed.

Yesterday it was reported that Wellington was installing Smart Meters in town and the police were called to the scene. Once the police arrived and talked to them, the installer left.

In stark contrast the city of Naperville Illinois has forced Smart Meter installation using the support of armed police. Two mothers were arrested.

THANK YOU to the Sebastopol City Council for their strong stand, and to the City Staff for their support.  Thank you also to the City of Fairfax, who has led the way in protecting their city from Smart Meter installations.

Chasing off Smart Meter installers in Sebastopol

Wellington, a company contracted by PG&E, is installing Smart Meters in Sebastopol despite the fact that Sebastopol has asked for a moratorium twice; that Sebastopol council supports a Smart Meter community wide opt out; and that the CPUC has a proceeding pending to investigate the possibility of community opt-out.

Senior community chases off Smart Meter installerThis morning residents at Burbank Heights and Orchards (senior housing community) and Sebastopol residents chased off an installer, who admitted he had only two weeks training and was not an electrical contractor, which is a requirement for FCC safety conditions. 83% of the residents there opposed the meters. As he was leaving he said  he was going to file a police report, and when I brought the camera out he got in his truck and left. http://youtu.be/nwSlB1y4p9k

Two more Wellington trucks installing gas smart meters were on Murphy Street. When I approached the two men they did not respond or answer any of questions.  They eventually packed up their stuff and left, putting the analog gas meter back together.

Smart Meter installers drive small white Wellington Ford Ranger trucks.  They are installing throughout Sebastopol now.  There were at least three trucks in town today.  It appears the installers have been instructed to vacate a scene if they are approached. They also seem to leave town if followed, rather than going to the next house to install.

Wellington installs PG&E Smart Meters
Wellington installs PG&E Smart Meters

If you see an installer you can ask these questions:  Are you a licensed electrical contractor? Did you know Sebastopol asked for a moratorium on Smart Meters twice? Did you know there’s a CPUC proceeding that’s investigating a community opt- out program? Did you know that the Sebastopol council supports community opt out?

Tomorrow night Tuesday Feb 5 at 6 pm is a council meeting at the Sebastopol teen center.  We can bring this issue up at public comments and see if they can take some action to ban the meters after all.

PG&E doesn’t care, a kid’s perspective on Smart Meters

Anna Maurer is ten years old. She lives in Sebastopol California. The City of Sebastopol has asked PG&E for a moratorium on Smart Meters twice.  Recently PG&E began installing Smart Meters in Sebastopol near Anna’s neighborhood and school, despite the city’s request.

Smart Meters transmit radio waves, aka RF radiation, (thousands of pulses a day), which the IARC, an arm of the World Health Organization classifies as a 2b (possible) carcinogen, same as DDT and lead.

Anna and her mom have both suffered headaches when near Smart Meters.  Many people have reported health complaints since Smart Meters have been installed, on their homes or in the neighborhoods. Sleep problems, headaches, ringing in the ears, heart problems and more are reported.

Anna’s mom is Sandi Maurer (EMF Safety Network director) who has been working hard to stop Smart Meters. There is a pending proceeding at the CPUC that might allow communities like Sebastopol to be Smart Meter free, but PG&E doesn’t care. They continue to deploy these toxic meters, because they can.

Anna wrote this speech and made this video because she does not want to have to move.

 “I want to protect my town but PG&E doesn’t care.  They don’t care that people could get sick from what they are putting on our homes.”

Here’s her short speech:
“My name is Anna Maurer.  I am ten years old.  I like where I live, I have good friends, a nice house, and I live close to my school.  If my neighborhood gets Smart Meters I will have to move. I don’t want to move because I have the perfect place to live for me.  If I don’t move I will get headaches, and my mom will suffer, as will I.  Smart Meters have made bad things happen for me and my family.  I don’t want to have Smart Meters on my house, in my neighborhood, or in my town.  I don’t think it is right to force people to have a Smart Meter on their home, or pay more not to have one. There could be people like me who are sensitive to Smart Meters and don’t know.  I want to protect my town but PG&E doesn’t care.  They don’t care that people could get sick from what they are putting on our homes.”

When she was 8 years old she talked about how just walking by a Smart Meter gave her flash headaches. See video below.

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’s spying may cost them

Wiliam “Ralph” Devereaux, was the Senior Director of the PG&E Smart Meter program from October 2009 to November 2010.  Devereaux was the public face for the PG&E Smart Meter program and he appeared at many community meetings throughout PG&E’s service territory. Devereaux resigned from PG&E in November 2010 after he was caught trying to infiltrate an EMF Safety Network online discussion list.  Prior to being caught he had infiltrated other anti smart meter groups, including Stop Smart Meters and posted comments to discredit their views, using the fake name, “Ralph.”

PG&E tried to characterize Devereaux as a rogue employee who acted alone.  But the lengthy investigation by the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) Consumer Protection and Safety Division revealed that Devereaux forwarded emails that he collected using the false identity to his boss and other senior managers at PG&E, including a member of the legal department.  The EMF Safety Network was involved in a legal proceeding at the CPUC against PG&E at the time of PG&E’s spying.

Today the CPUC ordered an investigation into PG&E’s activities to determine if PG&E engaged in deceitful conduct towards consumer groups. The Consumer Protection and Safety Division of the CPUC concluded that:

1. PG&E violated PU Code Section 451 by failing to furnish just and reasonable service when Mr. Devereaux lied about his identity to infiltrate online smart meter discussion groups in order to spy on their activities and discredit their views; and

2. PG&E senior management knew of Mr. Devereaux’s deceit before it was reported in the press and failed to prevent and stop his inappropriate behavior.

The CPUC states, “Mr. Devereaux’s actions are considered the actions of PG&E.” and “PG&E lost the public’s trust when Mr. Devereaux was caught using a false identity to join the EMF Safety Network.”  PG&E is now notified that fines may be imposed in this matter and hearings will be held at the CPUC.

Here’s the email exchange between William Devereaux and Sandi Maurer, who received a notice from Google that manasota99@gmail.com, wanted to join the CA EMF Safety Coalition, an online anti smart meter discussion list. This is the string of emails where the computer outed the real identity of <manasota99@gmail.com>:

On Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 10:08 AM, EMF Safety Network <EMFSafe@sonic.net> wrote:


Please let me know more about your interest in joining the CA EMF Coalition. This discussion group has been set up for county leaders focused on EMF, specifically RF Smart meters.

Please include where you live, what aspect of smart meter issue you are working on and how you came to be involved in this issue. There may be a better group that I can help connect you to, or you may be our next county lead. Please let me know.



Sandi Maurer

EMF Safety Network


On Nov 4, 2010, at 3:23 PM, William Devereaux wrote:

Hi Sandi,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, I’ve been travelling a lot.

I live in Oakland where Smart meters have been sweeping across town and wanted to learn more about them and join the conversation to see what I can do to help out here.



From: EMF Safety Network <EMFSafe@sonic.net>

Date: November 4, 2010 7:10:36 PM PDT

To: William Devereaux <manasota99@gmail.com>

Cc: california-emf-safety-coalition <california-emf-safety-coalition@googlegroups.com>

Subject: Re: Your interest in joining the California EMF Coalition?


Aren’t you the head of the Smart Meter program at PG&E? We’d love your help!

Can you help us obtain a Smart Meter moratorium ASAP? People who are asking for meters not to be installed are being bullied, signs on meters are being disregarded and the CPUC has received 2000 Smart Meter complaints from Aug 15-Oct 15. We need a moratorium ASAP and the opportunity to be heard at the CPUC.

Your help would be invaluable. Thanks for contacting us.


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.”



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