Informed customers are demanding the removal of dangerous SMART METERS and refusing to Opt-Into the false representations put forth by PG&E. This is a copy of the full letter sent by a Milpitas resident to both the California Public Utilities Commission and to PG&E (reprinted here with permission):
May 1st, 2012 is the deadline for the “Opt-Out” program in our area. The program title is misleading. It implies that a legitimate action was being taken from which individual customers could be exempt, by supposing legitimacy of the action and complying with the conditions set therein.
I did not permit a SMART METER to be installed on my home, having serious concerns about the billing accuracy, health safety and fire hazard issues that were already raising red flags prior to the installation of SMART METERS in my area.
After the installation of SMART METERS on the homes of my neighbors, and in combination with the increase of electronics such as wi-fi in my neighborhood, I’ve experienced physical health effects consistent with electronic sensitivities. It has affected my strength and energy levels, and has resulted in tinnitus, which stops when I vacate the area and find a space away from the barrage of electronics.
The Opt-Out Program offered by PG&E is ineffectual and insulting to PG&E customers and to the meter readers who have served the needs of the community.
PG&E had permission to read our analog meters, not to replace them “by mandate” with digital meters. This was not the informed will of the customers, and was contrary to our consent. The meters had already proven problematic in communities where they had been installed, yet we were told that we would have no choice but to accept their installation. For most customers, that involved the installation of the SMART METERS before accurate information was obtained and before the home owner or resident could object.
Inaccurate billing was contested by PG&E after many customers complained about blatant errors on their bills, soon after the SMART METERS were installed. Later, it became apparent that dealing with the enormous amount of data generated by the electronic signals in SMART METERS was not initially manageable by the utility companies, so averaging, over-estimating, and overcharging took place.
Live meter readers may cost the utility companies more money in salaries, benefits and such….and eliminating the employment of meter readers may enable utilities companies to invest in revenue enhancing data enabling technology while avoiding the cost of employing real people, but live meter readers rarely create massive billing irregularities for consumers or create a health hazard.
Having meter readers may be an inconvenience for home owners and certainly, with many meters on the inside of fenced yards it is an issue of privacy to a certain extent, but the level of intrusion built into the data gathering and data transmitting capabilities of the SMART METERS is enormous. As the next generation of SMART APPLIANCES comes into the market, they will work in tandem with the SMART METER to “assist” customers in monitoring their personal usage of energy. This is part of the SMART GRID technology that is designed to assist energy users to be energy wise, safe and efficient. What this “assistance” translates to is the monitoring and gathering of data about the amount and time of usage of appliances in your home as well as the ability for regulation by the utility of any perceived over-usage. The responsibility of customers will be shifted from being conscientious about energy usage to being compliant with imposed limits.
The data monitored and transmitted by SMART GRID technologies, and SMART METERS in particular can be shared, sold or hacked, putting more personal information about our hours at home, our habits, our use of technology into the hands of agencies, governments, advertisers and hackers. Invasive data collection is not an acceptable contract requirement for accessing the utilities that we have come to depend upon.
Many people have experienced health problems since the installation of SMART METERS. The level of electricity which is emitted from the meter on a consistent basis far exceeds the misleading statistics put forth by PG&E. The long term effects of such electrical exposure can be seriously detrimental to personal health, and difficult to prove as having been exclusively the result of exposure to SMART METERS. Customers who cannot prove that SMART METERS have contributed to their illness or disability face both the injury, with its impact on their ability to earn a living and the insult of being forced to pay for the very device that contributes to their illness.
For those who choose to “Opt-Out” of the SMART METER program, PG&E offers to install an analog meter for “an initial $75 set up charge, as well as a $10 monthly meter-reading charge.” This is extortion.
If a neighborhood gang threatened the health and privacy of your family every day, day in and day out, then promised to remove the threat to your family for a one time pay off and monthly protection money…..we would be calling the police! This neighborhood gang has a lot of clout and the PUC has failed to do their job.
SMART METERS are also a real threat to the environment. The electrical energy emitted from SMART METERS seems to interfere with the natural navigation and health of bees, bats and potentially all wildlife. This extends to plant life as customers have documented that shrubs have died from proximity exposure to electricity emitted from SMART METERS. Increasingly, there is more than antidotal evidence which points to the SMART METERS as a threat to human, animal and plant life.
In my view, the entire SMART GRID should be viewed as a threat to the very environment which it is supposedly designed to protect.
In conclusion, the PUC allowed PG&E and other utility companies to push forward with the adoption and installation of unhealthy, invasive technology without adequate testing or public input. Public objections were ignored. Customers were misled by faulty statistics and bullied with pressure tactics. Subsequent damage to the health of human, plant and animal life is increasingly linked to the use of SMART METERS as part of the SMART GRID. Potential damage to customers’ health, livelihood, and the potential invasion of customers’ privacy are inherent in the use of SMART METER technology and should therefore be stopped.
It is the responsibility of the PUC to safeguard the health, safety and privacy of utilities customers. It is therefore the responsibility of the PUC to demand of PG&E and all utilities companies, the immediate removal of all SMART METER technology and the replacement of all SMART METERS with analog meters. No cost related to the removal of SMART METERS or their replacement with analog meters is to be passed onto consumers in any way and must be borne solely by the utilities companies.
For my part, I am keeping my analog meter. As a meter reader already monitors our on-grid solar unit once a month and can monitor the analog gas meter at the same time, there is no need for an additional trip and no need for the additional charge. Therefore I will not be billed for nor expected to pay any additional charges. This fact has already been acknowledged affirmatively in a phone call with PG&E personnel.
At such time as PG&E begins installation of SMART METERS to monitor home solar units, no SMART METER will be installed on this house. PG&E will continue to read the solar unit’s analog meter. The statement of this information too, has been acknowledged by an employee of PG&E.