UK affirms voluntary Smart Meters while CPUC requires fees to opt-out

3 Feb

Who’s taking the high and right road here? 

According to breaking news on Wednesday (February 1, 2012), energy officials in the UK have confirmed that Smart Meters in the UK will be voluntary.   I.e., Smart Meters will not be mandatory, so residents there don’t have to fight their officials to oppose mandatory smart meters and monthly fees to opt out.  In addition, one of the MPs is urging his government to say whether Smart Meters will come with health warnings. This action was taken in response to concerns by residents opposing the Smart Meters for health and privacy reasons, and the government wanting to avoid lawsuits and legal challenges.

In sharp contrast, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted 4-0 to approve CPUC President Michael Peevey’s Proposed Decision on PG&E’s Smart Meter Options. 

By taking this action, the Commissioners reinforced their approval of the mandatory Smart Meter program, and requirement that PG&E customers must pay up-front and monthly fees if they want to opt out.

I.e., CPUC and PG&E’s definition of freedom of choice means your freedom isn’t free anymore, at least under their regime.  It comes at a cost — you’ll have to pay up to maintain your most basic human rights to protect your health, home, family, liberty and happiness.

Indeed, Smart Meter opponents say charging fees to opt out is extortion, unfair, punitive, and prohibitory. Why should we pay to opt out of something we never approved or opted into, and that harms our health and privacy and results in skyrocketing utility bills?

In addition, Mr. Peevey not only authored and approved his own proposed decision — he is also  the former president of So Cal Edison.  Anyone see a conflict of interest here?

The  CPUC Proposed Decision approved today is an “interim” opt out program until the CPUC arrives at a Final Decision.  So until then, it allows PG&E customers to immediately have analog meters if they pay $75 up front and $10 per month;  for residents in the CARE program it’s $10 up front and $5 per month.

It’s being called “interim” because during the next phase (Phase 2) of the Opt Out proceedings, the CPUC will be exploring how or if entire communities can opt out (many local governments have  adopted moratoriums, outlawing Smart Meters in their cities or counties).  PG&E also will submit a cost analysis on the opt out program and could ask to raise the up-front and monthly fees.  Smart Meter opponents want to press the CPUC on details of opt outs for persons who live in multi-residential complexes (condos and apartments) who may live near a bank or banks of Smart Meters.

PG&E customers are reporting that PG&E has already telephoned those on the Delay List via “robo-calls.  PG&E is informing them that they have until May 1 to make a decision about opting out.  If they do do not opt out, then PG&E will install the Smart Meter at their home.

PG&E has posted Opt-Out info on its website.  Even though PG& says the Smart Meters are free, Smart Meter opponents point out that the Smart Meters have cost ratepayers about $275+ per meter, so they aren’t as free as PG&E says they are.  PG&E informs customers how to opt-out here: http://www.pge.com/myhome/customerservice/smartmeter/optout/

FYI, CPUC’s approved Opt-Out Decision for PG&E is similar to the Smart Meter Opt-Out Program in Maine, and the one currently being proposed in Vermont. However, residents opposing Maine’s opt out program have filed a lawsuit against the state PUC there, and the Vermont ACLU has taken a stance against charging fees for analog meters.

PG&E’s interim opt-out decision is seen as a template for what the CPUC may approve for So Cal Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).  However, the CPUC has yet to make or issue a decision on SC&E and SDG&E’s opt out proposals, so SCE and SDG&E customers will have to hold off on asking for their analogs back right now. 

On the one hand, many PG&E customers who are suffering terribly from the Smart Meters on their homes, and can afford to pay the opt out fees, may be relieved by the CPUC decision.  On the other hand, those who are not happy about the decision include:

1) Those who cannot afford the opt-out fees, and these include middle-class persons who are having a hard time as it is making ends meet due to the current economy and job market

2) Those who have an analog meter but are still getting sick from their neighbors’ Smart Meters and related wireless mesh network in their neighborhoods and city

3) Those who live in multi-residential complexes (which make up a large percentage of utility customers) and can’t afford to pay the fees to replace the entire bank or banks of Smart Meters.

4) Those who are opposed to paying a fee to protect their health, privacy, security, safety, civil liberties, freedom of choice, homes, family, community, and cost of living

5) Those who are opposed in principle to having to pay anything to opt out of something they never opted into

Keep in mind that our federal government does not mandate Smart Meters on our homes.  So, again, why is CPUC forcing us to pay fees to opt out of a smart meter program that you and I never approved of, consented to, or never opted into? 

Go here to watch video of the 60 residents who spoke up against the CPUC Proposed Decision at the CPUC meeting on February 1, 2012, as well as CPUC Pres. Peevey and the Commissioners making statements and then voting on the Proposed Decision: http://www.californiaadmin.com/cpuc.shtml

Media Coverage (click links to read or view):

San Jose Mercury News, “PG&E customers can opt out of Smart Meters — for $75 , plus $10 a month,” by Dana Hull, Feb. 1, 2012, updated Feb. 2, 2012

San Jose Mercury News, “State regulators to vote on PG&E smart meter ‘opt-out‘,” by Dana Hull, Feb. 1, 2012

San Francisco Chronicle, “State PUC OKs SmartMeter refusal – for a price,” by David R. Baker, Feb. 1, 2012

KCBS-San Francisco, “CPUC Approves PG&E SmartMeter Opt Out Charge,” Feb. 1, 2012

KTVU-San Francisco, “Critics decry CPUC’s approval of SmartMeter opt-out fees,” Feb. 1, 2012

Eon3Blog, “CPUC Approves ‘Al Capone’ Smart-Meter Opt-Out Plan,” Feb. 3, 2012 (includes Video)

EMF Safety Network, “CPUC votes to allow PG&E to charge fees,” Feb. 1, 2012

Stop Smart Meters, “Pay for Your Health?  Pay for Your Rights?  We say No,” Feb. 2, 2012

Stop Smart Meters, “‘What Do I Do Now?’ Confusing Reports and Mixed Signals,” Feb. 5, 2012

Center for Electrosmog Prevention, “California Opt Out News” Page

Actions You Can Take:

1.  Support or join organizations working to oppose mandatory Smart Meters and high opt-out fees in your state or area. Many of them are found in the “Links” listed in the left side of this screen.  Make sure you bookmark Stop Smart Meters, EMF Safety Network, Eon3EMFBlog, Center for Electrosmog Prevention, Stop OC Smart Meters, and Stop Smart Meters Irvine, for the latest updates on the smart meter front.

2.  If there is no Smart-Meter opposition group in your area, then form one.

3.  Write, call and meet with your local officials in your city and county to keep Smart Meters out of your community, speak up at City Council and County Supervisor meetings, and ask that your local government join with other local governments that have already adopted such measures.

4.  Write and call your state legislators and members of Congress to support legislation that opposes mandatory Smart Meters and opposes charging fees or higher rates to opt out.

5.  Write Governor Jerry Brown and tell him that he needs to have Commissioner Peevey recuse himself from the Smart Meter Opt-Out Proceedings due to this conflict of interest, and that Gov. Brown should appoint persons who are not former utility employees to the CPUC.

6.  PG&E customers can also file complaints about the Smart Meter Opt-Out fees to the CPUC Consumers Affair Branch on the CPUC website: https://ia.cpuc.ca.gov/ cimsapp/?key=39949189

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7 Responses to “UK affirms voluntary Smart Meters while CPUC requires fees to opt-out”

  1. Electra February 11, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    Thanks for posting this. It’s great news, and the best we’ve gotten in a while. I’ve sent it along to many officials and regular folks like ourselves. We’re all in this together! (:

  2. burbankaction February 17, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    Thanks for sharing the news with others. More people need to know about smart meters and what rights we should have to not have them installed on the sanctity of our homes.

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