PG&E supports analog meter option

In Reply Comments sent to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today PG&E declared its support of an analog meter option.  “PG&E supports approval of an analog meter option, in addition to the non-communicating radio-off option, in response to customers’ and parties’ continued requests for an analog meter alternative in Opening Comments, as well as in customers’ direct communications to PG&E and the Commission.

“PG&E has received the very clear message that some customers will only be satisfied with an analog meter option.”

This is a major concession from PG&E.  However, we still need the CPUC to hear loud and clear that we need:

  • a no cost analog opt-out, no initial or monthly fees
  • meters co-located in banks banned and restored to analogs
  • immediate restoration of analog meters for people suffering  health impacts
  • evidentiary hearings and investigation into RF health impacts
  • Community wide opt-outs and safe zones

It will be up to the Commission to decide what they do with PG&E’s concession and whether or not they will include an analog option, and whether or not that will apply to utilities statewide.  More information on the opt out proceeding can be read here.

Listen to a short radio interview with Sandi Maurer from KSRO news.

PG&E backs down

PG&E restores power to customers refusing smart meter

Today PG&E restored power to customers who removed the smart meter and restored the analog meter on their homes.  They removed the meters because they or their children were suffering health problems since the new meters were installed.

Earlier today Diane from Calaveras County said PG&E contacted her and said they will “jump” her meter to deliver her electricity (till they can find an analog).  She said they’d estimate her bills and they will do the same for others.

Diane confirmed PG&E has now restored her electricity.  News from Santa Cruz County also confirms PG&E has backed down:  Santa Cruz Smart Meter Rebels 1, PG&E 0

They did not install the analog meter, instead they used this device (see photo below) which does not measure electricity.   SF Chronicle reports: “Moving to end an embarrassing standoff, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. on Friday said it would restore power to a small group of customers… and  that PG&E spokesman Greg Snapper said, “This is a temporary solution for a very unique circumstance”.

 

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.”

 

Opt-out OUTRAGE!

Today the President of the California the Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Michael Peevey issued a Proposed Decision on what to do with the thousands of complaints against the (dumb, too smart, not smart, spy, murder, dirty, hazardous, merd, smeter)  microwave computer utility meters that companies are stealthily installing with support from government and environmentalists.

The CPUC, whose mission is to provide safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates, and regulate the utilities has once again rubber stamped PG&E’s demands. Peevey’s proposed decision says we must pay $90 upfront and $15 a month for a “radio off” meter. Analog meters are not included.  The fees are an obvious punishment, and likely illegal.

What can we do about this outrage in California?  Here’s an idea: We can REFUSE to pay. Deduct it from the utility bill in protest.

Here’s what others think about the concept of opt-out:

“We should not have to pay for NO CHANGE in electric service. We don’t pay for not getting cable. We don’t pay for not getting satellite. We don’t pay for gas if we don’t use gas appliances. What the heck is going on when we have to pay MORE for something we don’t want, don’t need, won’t use and can’t get out of. When the vacuum salesman comes to the door, and I don’t want to buy a vacuum, I don’t buy it and he doesn’t get into my wallet.” Anonymous survey comment

Just removing the meter from our home I don’t think will restore the peace and freedom from harm. As you know with all the homes having the meters on them, the amount of radiation is substantial. I don’t think I am overstating this. I am beginning to think they are trying to do a slow kill, so we don’t wake up to it. It is interesting that some of us have a super sensitivity to the radiation while others no less being slowly harmed by it are clueless because they don’t sense anything. CMC, Riverside County CA

“These folks are way better organized than the power industry, they are creating converts every day and they’re not going to stop with a puny opt-out option.” Phil Carson, Editor-in-chief, Intelligent Utility Daily

What do you think?

PG&E’s Big Confession

[mashshare] 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.

People vs. PG$E

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today a Wellington installers truck was effectively blocked and rendered incapable of deploying PG&E Smart Meters for several hours by a local Anchor Bay woman, Annie M.

Annie has been instrumental in educating her area about the hazards of the new PG&E wireless utility meters.  She is in recovery from severe EMF sensitivity, and moved to Mendocino County this year to take refuge in a lower EMF environment.  Talking about the incident she said,  “I don’t want anyone else to feel like I did. While I am still feeling good, I want to do what I can to help people. I didn’t know what else to do.”

Mendocino County has banned Smart Meters by ordinance, however PG&E is disrespecting the law and deploying meters throughout the county.

The homeowner, who’s driveway the truck was blocked into called on the Sheriff to report the illegal meter installations and they were told to file a written complaint online. However, later the Sheriff warned Annie M. that blocking the truck was considered entrapment, although PG$E and Wellington declined to press charges.

The CPUC could prevent these confrontations by ordering a moratorium on the installation of the unpopular meters.  45 cities and counties in California have called for a moratorium and a dozen have banned them.  At what point will the CPUC honor their mission to ensure safe utility service and regulate the utilities?  For now, it’s the people vs. PG$E.  This is a shameful situation.

PG&E threatens customer-install it or else!

Charles Pine, an Oakland resident did not want Smart Meters installed on the duplex he owns.  He was home when a PG&E worker showed up, without previous notice, to install them and Charles refused.  Although the PG&E worker did not install the meters that day, he threatened Charles, stating, “…Either we install it, or you find another energy company”.  [Ya right, PG&E is a monopoly in our area]   Many people have contacted the EMF Safety Network to complain about how PG&E has treated them when they call  about not wanting Smart Meters, but Charles Pine had a recorder in his pocket and he caught the workers statements on tape.  Check out the story and listen to the recording on Stop Smart Meters.

Smart Meter Opt-In Left Out

by Judy Vick, M.S., L.M.F.T.

There should have been a customer “opt-in” to the PG&E wireless smart meter program when it was originally proposed as a primarily wired program in 2006 for 1.7   billion ratepayer dollars.  Or perhaps when PG&E switched the smart meter program to wireless in 2009, when they came back to request an additional half billion dollars of ratepayer money.

A 2008 report by San Francisco Environment and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, cautioned that the plan to equip homes with so-called smart meters should be put off until the gadgets are proven to save money for ratepayers and be safe for the environment, echoing the criticism of reports across the country on smart meters, which said the meters’ savings don’t outweigh the costs.  The report recommended PG&E first employ a pilot program of 300,000 to 500,000 test homes.

But instead, PG&E rushed ahead and “deployed” mandatory installation of wireless smart meters for all customers, regardless of the fact that wireless smart meters are not mandated by the federal government and are not a requirement of a smart grid.

Author Orlean Koehle, a prominent Republican in northern California, researched the utility companies claim that they are following federal law by mandating these installations, but when she consulted a lawyer, she found that was not the case. “Upon reading the bill (2005 Energy Policy Act), it does not mandate utility companies to install smart meters in homes; they are only to offer them and install them upon customer request,” Koehle said as she read from the lawyer’s response.

Ratepayers have now paid billions of dollars for the wireless smart meter program, money they can ill afford in this economy. And they are paying in more ways than one, with their health and wellbeing, their property, safety, and security.

The number of California local governments that oppose the smart meter program are steadily growing—40 and counting.  Thirteen of these governments passed ordinances and local laws banning the meters.  You have to stop and ask yourself—why is there so much resistance across California and in other states and countries over a simple utility meter?

First, smart meters don’t save energy. People save energy.  The results promised by PG&E have never been demonstrated in any test or actual program done in the country.  Consumer organizations such as Public Citizen, The California Public Utilities Commission Division of Ratepayer Advocates, and the Consumer Law Center have refuted PG&E’s consumer benefit claims.  Public Citizen launched a national campaign to expose the faulty assumption that smart meters will save energy.  Instead, Public Citizen’s analysis of the program found that smart meter installations have thus far prioritized utility budget efficiency, profiting utility companies, not household budget efficiency.  “Pouring through utility dockets, utilities make it clear that the vast majority of projected savings from smart meters is from laying off utility workers—and not from consumers’ lowering their energy use and bills. Utilities highlight savings from remote disconnection—mainly for nonpayment. This raises serious consumer safety and health issues.”  For this, people are paying double and triple what they used to pay for energy.  And people and businesses who are unfortunate enough to not be able to avoid using energy at peak times, pay more for energy than those who do not. Residents of Bakersfield filed a class action lawsuit for excessive billing from wireless smart meters after they were installed.

Mark Toney, Executive Director of the Utility Reform Network (TURN), exposed the fact that utility companies’ critical peak pricing includes a 10 fold increase in cost for energy use during heat waves.  He noted that many people die every year from heat, more than other natural disasters.  How many more people will be at risk, not using energy during heat waves for fear of excessive energy bills?

Adding insult to injury, in addition to the program not delivering on promised benefits, electrical fires, appliance damage, and interference with existing household electrical systems have been reported from smart meter installations.  And a government report revealed that the smart meter system will be easy for hackers to remotely shut off power and cause widespread outages.  The security weaknesses could also allow hackers to snoop on customers and steal data.  A paper out of the University of Cambridge highlights privacy concerns from smart meters as well as security risks caused by linking home-area networks from smart meters.

But at the forefront of the heightened resistance to the wireless smart meter program, is the fact that people are getting sick.  There is regular testimony at the California Public Utility Commission from people who report injuries from wireless smart meters and are demanding an end to the smart meter program.  For every person testifying at the CPUC, there are many others writing the CPUC and their elected officials for help.  You can read personal account after personal account on emfsafetynetwork.org.  Many of these people have never been activists, but are getting involved to protect themselves, their families, and their communities. They are spending their personal time attending city council and county board meetings, walking neighborhoods, writing letters to their elected officials, going on local radio and television stations to try to stop this harmful program.  Those who are especially dedicated are physically blocking contractors from installing the wireless meters and devising ways to prohibit their analog meters from being removed from their property.  Meanwhile, PG&E airs radio spots promoting the benefits of the meters and continues installations at a rapid pace.

There are significant and unnecessary health problems from wireless smart meters identified by dozens of scientists. The microwave radiation (also referred to as electromagnetic radiation, emf, and radiofrequency radiation) emitted from the meters is harmful to health, causes DNA breakages and a myriad of symptoms. Our bodies are bio-electric, as measured by EKGs and EEGs. Interference from microwave radiation can alter the electrical activity which regulates the function of our hearts, brains and other organs. Heart rhythm disturbance, sleep disruption, and headache are some of the common symptoms.

Additionally, 3-5 % of the population is considered electrically hyper-sensitive and 30-35% of the population is moderately sensitive.  In Sweden, electrohypersensitivity (EHS) is an offically fully recognized functional impairment.  Electromagnetic radiation also interferes with sensitive medical equipment and medical implant devices.  8-10% of the population have medical implant devices, such as insulin pumps, cochlear implants and heart pacemakers.

The Seletun Scientific Statement (2011) recommends that global governments adopt new exposure guidelines for electromagnetic radiation—pointing to biological hazards and risks to the genetic code from unchecked proliferation of wireless technologies.  The recommendation is based on scientific studies reporting health impacts at much lower exposure levels.  Many researchers now believe the existing safety limits are inadequate to protect public health because they do not consider prolonged exposure to lower emission levels that are now widespread.

Other countries have recognized the problem of emf exposure from wireless technology and are returning to wired systems.  The European Environment Agency, an agency of the European Union that advises 32 countries on public policy, is calling for lowering public exposure to electromagnetic fields: “Waiting for high levels of proof before taking action to prevent well known risks can lead to very high health and economic costs, as it did with asbestos, leaded petrol and smoking.”

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently acknowledged health effects from low level, “non-thermal (non-heating)” emf exposure: “CDPH suggests further review of the literature on non-thermal effects, which is complicated and controversial, but does not support a claim of no non-thermal health effects from radio frequency electromagnetic fields.”

Daniel Hirsch, Professor of Nuclear Policy at University of California, explains that the whole body cumulative radiation exposure from wireless smart meters is 100X more than cell phone exposure.  He adds that the wireless smart meter program deployment “is a large experiment on a very large population.”

The problem with the wireless smart meter individual opt-out, is that it does little in the real world to protect public health, unless most of us opt-out.  Wireless smart meters are mounted in close proximity to our every day lives, attached to our homes and businesses, and places where we spend a lot of our time.  Many people report their utility meter is mounted on the exterior side of their bedroom wall, and often in places easily accessed by children.  Wireless smart meters emit electromagnetic pulses for more than a mile in every direction, and the signals go through walls and our bodies.  If you choose to opt-out—but your neighbor doesn’t, you are still exposed.  If you opt-out but you live in a condo, and share a wall that mounts 15 smart meters for your condo neighbors, how can you protect yourself and your family?  If you opt-out, but live by a smart grid repeater station for your neighborhood, you can do little to reduce your exposure.  In addition, we are experiencing a growing accumulation of electromagnetic radiation in our environment from cell towers, wifi, cell phones, electronic equipment, etc.

The CPUC chose to exempt the wireless smart meter program from an environmental impact report, the type of review that is usually required of such a massive state-wide program.  So the burden of proof regarding harm has shifted to the consumer.  But it shouldn’t be.  The CPUC needs to take responsibility to protect consumers and our environment now, by calling for independent testing and evaluation of the wireless smart meter and the smart grid.  In the meantime, there should be a moratorium on any further installation of wireless smart meters from any utility company (smart meters are planned for water, gas and electric meters), until PG&E can prove the wireless meters are safe.  And we should demand evidentiary hearings on wireless smart meters

As it is proposed, the PG&E Opt-Out plan is a $270 up-front fee to opt out, a $14 monthly surcharge and a yet-to-be determined “exit fee” if you move.   The opt-out costs are prohibitive for many individuals and families, which is PG&E’s intention, to try to stop the widespread and growing opposition to the wireless smart meter program.

Enough.  Ratepayers should not be penalized for the failure of the smart meter program.  It is PG$E’s turn to pay.  PG&E should restore analog meters at no cost to customers.  Consider that PG&E has profited from customers who have paid twice and three times their regular energy bills since their wireless smart meters were installed, and from laying off meter readers.  Additionally, PG&E should be required to pay reparations to ratepayer-victims who suffered ill health, fires, explosions, damage to existing electronics and/or theft of personal information due to forced smart meter installation.

See EMF Safety Network protest filing.

PG&E just announced a compromise that will be filed with the California Public Utilities Commission 4/26/11.  It is an agreement to honor customers who do not already have a smart meter and request one not be installed, until the California Public Utilities Commission has clearly defined the final opt-out plan and has allowed you time to opt out.   You need to call PG&E at 1-866-743-0263 to request that PG&E not install a smart meter.  The CPUC could take 5 months or more to finalize an opt-out program.  After the opt-out program is in place, PG&E will contact you to determine whether you still want to opt-out, given the final opt-out plan.

Customers who still have an analog meter, should be able to keep it at no charge. There should be no additional monthly fees to have an analog meter. PG&E can estimate usage based on the prior year, or customers can self-read and report monthly by phone or email. A meter reader can check twice a year so that any underage or overage can be adjusted. Or, meter readers should keep their jobs and let them continue to read meters.

It took a long time to make the connection between cigarettes and lung cancer, with the tobacco industry obstructing the truth. We should not make the same mistake again.

Email California Public Utilities Commission

This article originally appeared in the SLO Coast Journal

Judy Vick is the EMF Safety Network representative for San Luis Obispo County. She has a master of science degree in psychology from California Polytechnic State University, and has worked as a licensed psychotherapist in public service for 15 years. Since 2005, she has led community efforts to stop installation of cell tower projects planned for neighborhoods in San Luis Obispo County. She has trained with Wellstone Action and EMILY’s List on grassroots campaign strategies. As a delegate to the CA Democratic State Convention, she personally appealed to former President Bill Clinton on the public health hazards of electromagnetic radiation (EMF). Currently, as the EMF Safety Network Representative for San Luis Obispo County, she is leading the public education campaign on wireless smart meters. As a result, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors and the SLO County Health Commission voted unanimously to oppose the installation of smart meters in SLO County, until the public has viable opt out options.