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CA BULLETIN: CPUC TO VOTE WED. ON FLAWED SMART METER OPT-OUT POLICY

01/31/2012

c/o Joshua Hart @Stopsmeters on Twitter

Critics say Extortionate Fees are Illegal; Entire Program Should be Scrapped

San Francisco — The California Public Utilities Commission—whose members
are appointed by the Governor, not elected by the people—is set to vote on
a plan this Wednesday to charge Californians hundreds of dollars per year
simply to retain standard electric and gas analog meters on their homes.

The vote comes amidst a growing controversy over the health impacts,
safety, and privacy violations of the meters being deployed in California
and around the world. Opponents point to widely reported health symptoms
as one reason for the lack of public acceptance of smart grid technology-
a movement which has frequently flared into open rebellion, and say that
fees are only being implemented to tamp down a wider rejection of the
meters.

Studies done by the utility industry indicate that if opting out
were free, 40-60% of ratepayers would choose to take advantage of it. A
large proportion of households deciding to opt out could lead to a
possible collapse of the wireless mesh network that utilities like PG&E
have already spent billions of ratepayer dollars on, so far with little
but customer complaints to show for it.

Electrosensitive individuals are opposing the fees, comparing the policy
to charging disabled people to access a wheelchair ramp.

“Charging people with electro-sensitivity-who cannot tolerate smart meter
radiation- extra on their utility bills, simply because the utilities
neglected to consult with their customer base prior to roll-out, is
extortion (a kind of “protection racket”) and violates the state utility
code prohibiting discrimination based on disability. Once again the PUC is
failing to put public safety first, and Governor Brown’s appointees are
apparently no exception,” said Joshua Hart, Spokesperson for CA-based Stop
Smart Meters!

The plan has also been roundly criticized by physician’s organizations,
community groups, and local governments. The American Academy of
Environmental Medicine strongly urged the CPUC in a letter last week to
abandon the wireless smart meter program in CA, citing peer-reviewed
studies indicating large risks to public health. “Many modern studies
show metabolic and genomic damage from RF and ELF exposures below the
level of intensity that heats tissues. The FCC guidelines are therefore
inadequate for use in establishing public health standards. … these
effects accumulate over time.”

Because the system’s wireless mesh network intentionally repeats signals
from neighboring meters–and radiation along with it–many people are
being sickened not only by smart meters on their own properties but also
on those of their neighbors. Residents of multi-unit dwellings that have
banks of 20 or more meters on a single exterior wall are
disproportionately affected.

Such residents are particularly furious about the plan they say entirely
neglects their right to health. “Our situation is not helped at all by the
option to ‘opt out.’ If PG&E were to let us opt out and agreed to take
away the smart meter for our apartment, we would still have 42 of them
left under our bedroom,” said East Bay resident Tom Rossi.

Nearly fifty local governments in California have formally objected to the
smart meter deployments. A report issued last week by the Santa Cruz
County Health Department found that radiation from smart meters poses
serious health risks and that these risks are largely being ignored by
those state and federal agencies responsible for oversight. “Evidence is
accumulating on the results of exposure to RF at non-thermal levels,
including increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier, harmful
effects on sperm, [and] double strand breaks in DNA.”
Many elected officials recently signed a petition to the CPUC, demanding
that no fees be charged to customers who opt out of smart meters. It
states:

“The decision…does not protect the health or safety of all residents and
imposes a prejudicial financial burden on ratepayers who chose to opt out
of the program.” This petition has already been signed unanimously by all
members of the Boards of Supervisors of Santa Cruz County, Marin County
and Lake County, as well as the Mayors and all members of the City
Councils of Ross, Fairfax and Sebastopol.

Local governments and communities throughout California and across the
country continue to assert their rights to reject smart meter mesh
networks within their jurisdictions.

EVENT DETAILS

WHAT: CA Public Utilities Business Meeting.
Commissioners will vote on smart meter opt out policy. Members of the public have the right to speak
for 1-2 minutes at the beginning of the meeting.

WHEN: Wednesday Feb. 1st 9 AM PST

WHERE: 505 Van Ness Ave (at McAllister in Civic Center. Parking available
at Civic Center underground lot at Polk and McAllister, one block away, in the City of San Francisco.

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