CPUC Proposed Decision on Smart Meter Options could change

4 Jan

Many are waiting to see what will happen at the January 12, 2012 CPUC Meeting, due to PG&E’s now wanting to allow analog meters as an option, and the load of Comments and criticisms hurled against CPUC President Peevey’s Proposed Decision on PG&E’s Opt Out proposal.  Meanwhile, more smart meter opponents across the land are stepping up to protect themselves from smart meters — removing them and replacing them with analogs, calling for voter referendums, and taking legal actions.

PG&E has now modified its Smart Meter Program  to support analog meters as an option.  This development throws a curve ball into California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Public Meeting on President Michael Peevey’s Proposed Decision on Smart Meter Options that was originally scheduled for January 12, 2012.

So now everyone is wondering if President Peevey will modify his Proposed Decision to accept and adopt PG&E”s analog opt out.  Or, given the variety of questions, criticisms and doubts raised in the Comments to President Peevey’s Proposed Decision (he advocated that his proposal be adopted and the opt-out proceeding be closed) will the Smart Meter Options proceeding allow for due process — input, data gathering, and options explorations — in order to arrive at a reasonable, acceptable and appropriate proposed decision that actually addresses the interests of the public?

In other words, will justice be served?

On November 22, 2011, President Peevey issued his Proposed Decision on Smart Meter Options.  Similar to PG&E’s original proposal, Mr. Peevey’s proposed decision would impose up-front and monthly fees for those who want to opt out. It would only allow for smart meters with RF turned off or the RF chip removed.  It would not allow for analogs.  It would also set the template for the CPUC’s Proposed Decision on Smart Meter Options for SDG&E and SCE.

Read the EMF Safety Network and Stop Smart Meters detail what’s wrong with CPUC President Michael. Peevey’s Smart Meter Options Proposed Decision.  Also check out the news stories in the San Francisco Chronicle, and San Jose Mercury News.

Mr. Peevey, by the way, is the former President of Edison International and Southern California Edison, so there is a major conflict of interest for him authoring and issuing this Proposed Decision. As a result, he should recuse himself.

The Utility Reform Network (TURN) would like to take that further and is pushing for the removal of CPUC President Michael Peevey from his post.  You can sign their Petition today to help them achieve their goal.

Currently, PG&E’s modified proposal and President Peevey’s current Proposed Decision have too many inherent and obvious problems to be approved as is.

Yes, it’s great that PG&E’s proposal now includes analogs — however, allowing residents to keep or restore their analogs should have been included in their proposal to begin with, right? If resident in other states are allowed to keep and have their analog meters, why shouldn’t we, too.

PG&E wanting to still charge for opting out is also unacceptable.

In fact, PG&E (and other utilities) should have never mandated and forced smart meters on us in the first place.  We shouldn’t even have to be fighting to opt out.  They have pushed us into a confrontational survival-mode position that we never asked for, wanted or invited, and then wonder why we are upset and angry at them?

Forcing smart meter on us and charging us fees to opt out is not just offensive, prohibitory, unreasonable and criminal.  It’s also stupid and illogical in what is supposed to be a free and democratic society.

Ratepayers and taxpayers should NOT have to pay a penny to opt out of something that they are already paying for — i.e., we are already being forced to pay for (through higher rates and/or taxes) a costly smart meter program that we never approved of or consented to, and that is harming not just our health, but privacy and pocketbooks. Also, do the math.  It becomes especially prohibitory and unreasonable to charge residents fees to opt out when you multiply the fees by three (for each of their digital smart meters at their home, i.e., gas, water and electric).

Some utilities are saying that they have to charge us because they will need to have a meter reader read our meters.  Well, we say back: We”ll make it easy for you — we will write or call in our usage.  That’s low cost, no cost.  Very easy, and a no-brainer.

In addition, Southern California Edison has admitted in its own documents and research that residents are less likely to opt out if they have to pay for fees. Read the SCE 12/12/11 Comments filed with the CPUC, on pages 4 and 5, and referenced and put in perspective in the 12/19/11 Comments filed by the EMF Safety Network with the CPUC:

SCE PD comments, page 4 and 5, reveal they believe 41% of customers would choose not to have a Smart Meter and they encourage the Commission to charge more to discourage non-participation. Their desire to leverage fees is punitive, unfair, arbitrary and poor public policy. SCE comments:

“However, the PD’s arbitrarily low opt-out fees may substantially affect the Commission’s own Smart Grid goals by providing nearly unrestrained access to the opt-out program…SCE’s market research performed in September 2011 provided that 41 percent of residential customers expressed interest in an opt-out program given no information on fees. The participation rate decreased to 2.4 percent assuming a monthly charge of $20. Those rates decreased even lower to 1.4 percent assuming a monthly charge of either $25 or $30. Given these results, a CARE monthly charge of $5 with no initial opt-out fees, as proposed in the PD,11 could increase the California IOUs’ opt-out participation rate substantially. An unintended consequence of these discounted fees could be a substantial increase in the overall participation rate.”

Yes, even the utilities know that charging fees to opt out is the equivalent of extortion and/or bullying.  So if they already know what they can do to heal the division they’ve created between us and them, why don’t they take the high road and do it?

Contrary to how smart  meter proponents paint us, we are NOT just this small local yet vocal minority group of residents opposing smart  meters.  We are all across the country and world, and for good reasons that are logical, rational and real, not irrational and psychosomatic. In addition, the harder the utilities push and offend us with arrogant, blind and deaf, and dictator like responses and actions against us, the stronger the resident opposition against smart meters will grow and escalate.  Do not insult and tread on us.

For the general public, take note of and get inspiration from ordinary residents just like you and me, and some organizations and  local officials, too, who are standing up to assert and protect our most basic human rights against these smart meters that some of our utilities and cities are forcing on us even though the Federal government has not mandated their installation on our homes:

* Naperville, IL: residents there have been battling against their town’s smart meter program, have formed a non-profit organization, gathered 4,000 plus signatures for a referendum against the smart meters, and  yet their City Council members  fail to do what they were elected to do — hear their residents’ concerns and respond appropriately by protecting resident interests against the smart meter program that violates their Constitutional rights, civil liberties, pocket books and health. As a result, the residents have now filed a federal injunction to stop the smart meter program.  The City’s latest misstep is to threaten its own residents with armed guards in order to install the smart meters.  Read  more about this on the resident website, Naperville Smart Meter Awareness.  Also watch this video of their resident group President Kim Bendis to get inspired:

* Residents in B.C., Canada have filed an injunction to stop the smart meter program that BC Hydro and their government support. The resident group has also gathered more than 15,000 signatures against smart meters.   Read more by visiting the Coalition to Stop “Smart Meters”  (Stop Smart Meters BC) website.

* Michigan residents are successfully organizing against smart meters, and recently launched their informational and resource website.  Residents there are now taking their questions and ire to the Michigan Public Service Commission.   Read more about their actions, and support their efforts, by visiting “Michigan Stop Smart Meters.”

* About a dozen PG&E customers replaced their smart meters with analog ones (they hired a certified electrician to do this).  Joined by Stop Smart Meters Director Joshua Hart, they returned their rejected smart  meters to a PG&E Customer Service office on Wed., Dec. 7, 2011, in Capitola.  Watch the KION/FOX-TV Central Coast News report to see what happened. The Capitola Patch, and the Santa Cruz Sentinel also wrote news stories about it.  They did this because the meters were making them sick, and PG&E had failed to respond to their reasons and requests to remove and replace them.

* PG&E customers also returned their smart meters to their state legislators.  Watch the KION-TV report..

* Residents in Southern California removed their smart meters and returned them to Southern California Edison. Click arrow below to watch:

* Do you wish your County Supervisors were like these in the video below?  Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors get two thumbs up for doing the “right” thing by doing all they could to help their residents against smart meter abuse.  The Supes blasted PG&E for not responding appropriately to restore power after shutting it off to residents who had removed their smart meters and replaced them with analog ones for legitimate reasons.  PG&E’s power shut off response created a PR nightmare for the utility, because by refusing to restore power for obviously (as you’ll witness in the video) inane reasons, PG&E came off as a heartless Grinch endangering the lives of its customers and their children.

* Burbank resident Jerry Day has made a new video,”Replacing a Smart Meter with a Safe Analog Meter,” that is being widely circulated.  Click arrow below to watch:

This video above follows up on Mr. Day’s “Brave New World of Smart Meters” that has become a YouTube hit, with more than 1.5+ million views.

* Vermont utilities propose $10 per month opt out fee, but residents and groups opposing mandatory smart meters don’t believe that’s fair or appropriate.  Vermont ACLU has issued a Position Statement on Smart Meters: “A utility should not charge extra fees if a customer decides not to opt in and have a smart meter installed at his/her home. The savings the customer foregoes because of his/her decision is already a penalty for nonparticipation. Additionally, extra fees could, because of the classes of people who might decline to opt in, lead to unintentional, and yet still illegal, discrimination…Utility customers should decide for themselves whether they wish to have a smart meter installed at their home. Consent must be renewed every two years but can be revoked by the customer at any time.”  Read more on resident efforts by visiting the resident Stop Smart Meters in Vermont website, and the EMR Policy Institute‘s website.

* Maine PUC decided on charging residents $12 per month to opt out but a group of residents there have appealed that decision to the Courts and believe they should not be charged any opt out fees.

* Residents serviced by New Mexico Gas are being instructed to file a Medical Waiver form.

* Residents opposing smart meters in Nevada have gotten the Nevada PUC to investigate smart meter options.  Read more about it on the NVE Stop Smart Meters website.

* Locally, Burbank and Glendale residents, as reported in previous posts, have spoken up against smart meters.  Burbank City Council held Phase 1 of exploring smart meter options on November 15, 2011.  That same evening, City Council members unanimously approved proceeding to Phase 2, requesting Staff (BWP) to bring back costs of an opt out program.  On December 7, Burbank City Manager Michael Flad informed the public and City Council that  Phase 2 would occur in January 2012.  Currently, BWP is scheduled to present its smart meter options costs to City Council on January 17, 2012.

Neighboring Glendale Water & Power has stated that it may use the CPUC Smart Meter Opt Out Decision as a template for its smart meter opt out program.  Glendale City Council had originally scheduled smart meters for its December 13, 2011, agenda, but announced at its Dec. 7th meeting that it has re-scheduled this for a to-be-determined date in January 2012.

* EMF expert Cindy Sage issued a report (November 11, 2011)  in response to the EPRI’s RF study on smart meters.  The utilities and the CPUC like to point to the EPRI study as proof that smart  meters are safe.  What they fail to tell you is that the EPRI has a serious conflict of interest.

Just go to the EPRI website.  You will see that it is a major partner with the utility industry, a big advocate and supporter of the Smart Grid, has several Smart Grid projects, and, according to its own description about who funds EPRI and who are its Members, “EPRI is funded by membership participation in its research activities. Members represent more than 90% of the electricity generated and delivered in the U.S.”

Why do the utilities and CPUC continue to refer the public and media to reports, experts, and organizations that have clear conflicts of interest?  We can see right through these smokescreens.  Their conflicts of interest and bias obscure the truth, and tragically end up doing more damage than good.  It ends up insulting our intelligence, pits utilities against residents, furthers the divide between the two, and erodes any trust that residents once had in their utilities.  As you can see, there is nothing “smart” at all about the way smart meters are being forced on us.

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Action Items: If you would like to be kept updated on CPUC Smart Meter Opt Out Proceedings, or become a Party to one (which allows you to directly contribute input) or join and support other Parties participating on the CPUC Smart Meter Proceedings, please visit our CPUC Smart Meter Proceeding Page for helpful links and info.

On the local level, write your local elected officials and City Manager and tell them you oppose mandatory smart meters and their wireless mesh network, and that your City should at the bare minimum, give residents, neighborhood associations, small business owners, and multi-residential complexes the right to keep or restore their analog meters at no extra cost or higher fees or rates.

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2 Responses to “CPUC Proposed Decision on Smart Meter Options could change”

  1. Deanna Munson January 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    only analogs should be installed not only for people who are sick but everyone.we cannot take this toll on the environment and our health.plenty enough experts have come forward to express the dangers of dirty electricity,and all but analogs are making people sick rf or no rf.i got sick before they turned the chip on,and the millions of frogs that used to thrive here disappeared first week of install,before rf turned on.more than enough people have come forward that are sick from these meters,from EVERYWHERE world wide where the meterzs have been placed,and you could triple that number if people knew it was the meters causing their symptoms.i am poor and disabled,so i imagine i will die here from the meters ,like every tree along the creek has,and close to all in the yard,long before anyone gives a crap about us who are in subsidized housing and cant afford to move or have any location available to us without smartmeters.you cant tell me our public servants hands are tied.tied to their wallets maybe

  2. burbankaction January 12, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    Deanna, I agree that only analogs should be installed for the reasons you mention above, and also for privacy and security reasons, and to protect your pocketbooks, as well. So many people across the country (and world) are reporting higher rates and monthly bills after the smart meters are installed on their homes. There are many groups fighting for the right to keep or restore electromechanical analog meters at no cost and no higher rates — you probably already know them — the EMF Safety Network, Stop Smart Meters, Consumers Power Alliance, Center for Electrosmog Prevention, and many others participating in the CPUC Opt Out Proceedings, included those listed on our CPUC Smart Meter Proceedings page: https://burbankaction.wordpress.com/cpuc-smart-meter-proceedings/. We want them to succeed in protecting you and the rights and lives of those residing in California (and ultimately across the nation). Please continue to visit their websites and spread and share their posts with others to increase public awareness about this issue and inform the public on what they can do.

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