Yesterday (July 27, 2011), the California Public Utilities Commission held a combined pre-hearing conference regarding Pacific Gas & Electric’s smart meter opt-out proposal and an application for San Diego Gas & Electric’s opt-out proposal. Southern California Edison and So Cal Gas (The Gas Company) were invited to attend as well. Also present were the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, TURN, UCAN, Lake County, and San Francisco County, Wilner & Associates, Tobin Law Group (on behalf of several organizations and local governments throughout California), Aglet Consumer Alliance, Martin Homec on behalf of two groups in Southern California (including the Center for Electrosmog Prevention), Steve Martinot (Alameda group), EON and EMF Safety Network.
According to EMF Safety Network Director Sandi Maurer, these are the proposals that will be considered:
Analog on an individual or community basis
However, CPUC Administrative Law Judge Amy C. Yip-Kikugawa said she wants to know about all available options. She has given a 5pm deadline today for proposals. More than likely, any smart meter opt out programs proposed by PG&E, SC&E and SDG&E will be examined under one CPUC proceeding to arrive at a single opt out program for all major private utilities in the state of California.
Consumers, residents, and local governments are advocating for the individual and community-wide right to keep our analog meters at no cost, and halt the further installation of smart meters and their wireless infrastructure. These groups have filed Applications with the CPUC asking for opt out plans from SDG&E and SCE, and protesting PG&E’s opt-out plan.
PG&E has proposed an unacceptable “opt out.” Critics all it a “cop-out” because it really doesn’t offer you an opt out from smart meters. First, PG&E wants to charge you a host of large fees for what they call opting out. That’s not opting out, that’s called extortion. Second, PG&E won’t let you keep your analog meters. PG&E still wants to install the wireless smart meters, but says it’ll turn off the RF component. It doesn’t take a college education to see how that idea falls way short of brilliant. Many of us don’t want a smart meter period.
Furthermore, EMF Safety Network Director Sandi Maurer raises the question on all of our minds in the video report produced by the ABC local news station KGO-TV in San Francisco: Would you trust the utility to turn the RF off and keep it off? While they turn off the wireless component, will they also stop the wireless network of smart meters and related antenna that they’ve also installed throughout our neighborhoods from bathing us in unnecessary man-made radiation?
Hurrah for Sue Brinchman’s Center for Electrosmog Prevention. On July, 30, 2011, CEP filed an Application with the CPUC taking on the biggest challenge yet — opposing the smart meter and wireless infrastructure plans of all three major utilities — SCE, PG&E and SDG&E. Please donate to CEP or contact them to support its efforts on this front.
The municipal utility companies, meanwhile, will be watching to see how all of these CPUC smart meter/smart grid proceedings unfold to determine how they should respond to their ratepayers. (The municipal water and power companies like to remind the CPUC and public that they aren’t required to always abide by decisions that the CPUC makes. So it’s yet to be seen whether the municipal owned utilities will or won’t be exempt from the forthcoming final CPUC decision on California’s smart meter opt out program.)
You can call Burbank Water and Power to be put on their “delay” installation list, but just like PG&E’s current opt-out program, that’s not an opt out, just a temporary delay tactic so they can continue to install. Sign our Petition and write BWP, and our Mayor and City Council to complain and assert your rights. Forty five local governments in California have already taken action to oppose smart meters or ban them in their communities. Burbank should do the same.
In case you wondered what happened to Assemblyman Jared Huffman’s Assembly Bill 37 that was proposing a state-wide opt out for all California residents? Huffman tabled it when the CPUC asked PG&E a few months ago to present its opt-out proposal. Huffman shows no movement in resurrecting it, so you’ll have to ask your local legislator to take up the issue an introduce a bill advocating for consumer rights at the legislative level.
(Thanks to Sandi Maurer for informing us about yesterday’s CPUC prehearing conference.)