By Rosalind Peterson
May 3, 2011
Across the United States a quiet rebellion is starting to gain momentum as reports about SMART METERS have begun to find their way into to local newspapers, radio, and television news. In California, as Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), began to roll-out their SMART Meter installation program, residents began to learn more about these meters, in many cases learning this lesson the hard way as their bills skyrocketed upward at alarming rates.
Health questions began to increase, not only about the meters themselves, but the cell towers needed for transmission of the SMART Meter signals, and the SMART Meter Relay Antennas that have begun to show up across California. Many are asking their local, city, and state elected representatives to stop this process until all impacts can be evaluated. We know that these types of SMART Meter signals may disrupt pacemakers and other similar medical devices. And it should be clear that hospitals, which ask cell-phone users to turn off their cell phones in hospitals, are protected from these types of signals.
The rebellion, here in California, started in Southern California where local residents began protests that have spread across California. It has started to gain momentum in other states as well with the push to put SMART meters on every home, business, apartment; every place where electricity is metered. (The change-out has also included the installation of natural gas SMART meters to replace the older existing meters.) It is a topic we all need to know more about as the installation of SMART meters sweeps across California and the United States.
PG&E in California has rolled out the program with $Millions in television, radio, and print media advertising (being paid by ratepayers in California). Their goal is to SMART Meter the entire State of California without residents having the option to “opt-out” permanently. This issue will be decided this September by the California Public Utilities Commission. (In other states different options may be available for residents-for information on how to “opt-out” in California see  below or file with the California PUC .)
In addition, PG&E is being forced into an “opt-out” position because people are refusing these meters. The California Public Utility Commission will make a ruling for California residents in September 2011, on whether there will be an “opt-out” option for PG&E customers. The problem is that PG&E wants huge amounts of money paid to them for the “opt-out” option and also wants to encumber our property in the event we want to sell it in order to collect additional money from ratepayers. California residents are not in favor of these “opt-out” options. Also it means that middle, low, and those on fixed incomes (like seniors), would not be able to afford to “opt-out” of the program.
What is an Analog Meter which most people in the U.S. have at this time? PG&E, on their website, made the following statement about analog meters: “…Gas and electric meters record the total amount of gas or electricity consumed, just as a car’s odometer records mileage. Meters are highly accurate instruments. In fact, our accuracy record is measured and found to be correct more than 99 percent of the time…” . With analog meters so accurate why should PG&E have to move to SMART meters?
What is a SMART Meter? PG&E, on their website describes Smart Meters and their operations: “…The SmartMeter™ system uses programmable solid-state meter technology that provides two-way communication between the meter at your home or business and the utility, using secure wireless network technology…” . We question how “secure” this technology is at this time as hackers may be able to easily intercept these signals and charge their own utility bills to your account. And other problems may be generated, like human health problems, from using this type of wireless network technology.
PG&E also states on the website: “…The solid-state digital SmartMeter™ electric meter records hourly meter reads and periodically transmits the reads via a dedicated radio frequency (RF) network back to PG&E. Each SmartMeter™ electric meter is equipped with a network radio, which transmits meter data to an electric network access point (pictured below). The system uses RF mesh technology, which allows meters and other sensing devices to securely route data via nearby meters and relay devices, creating a “mesh” of network coverage. The system supports two-way communication between the meter and PG&E. SmartMeter™ electric meters can be upgraded remotely, providing the ability to implement future innovations easily and securely…” .
This technology increases our electromagnetic radiation exposure and could lead to increased health problems from this type of technology. Thus, residents of California and other states are asking for more studies and are using existing studies to obtain this type of information prior to installation of Smart Meters in California.
The SAGE report, released on January 1, 2011, is now online and should be required reading with regard to this subject . Human health issues are one of the main reasons that most people cite as a reason not to deploy these meters without more research.
PG&E also is promoting an Energy Partners Program. Their Energy Partners Program offers free services (allegedly billed to ratepayers), to help reduce energy usage. The PG&E Energy Partners Program offers qualified customers who own or rent a home free energy education and energy-efficient measures which may include: Refrigerator replacement, door replacement and weather-stripping, attic insulation, and compact fluorescent lighting [5-6].
This Energy Partners program was rolled out in Plumas County, California in 2010-2011, with plans for future installations in California. There are several problems with this program:
A. The replacement refrigerators are alleged to have all been made in Mexico, many had reported defects or failed to keep food at proper temperatures, they were all one size and one color fits all, and required the purchase of an expensive warranty. PG&E should promote Made in America products to keep workers employed in the United States.
B. The PG&E Contract for these items, which residents were required to sign, were designed to protect PG&E and not the customer from defective refrigerators .
C. The energy efficient light bulbs could turn any residence into a HAZMAT site if broken or when a fire occurs due to Mercury and/or Mercury vapor being released into the room. PG&E failed to notify residents of this HAZMAT problem or the fact that disposal of these bulbs required a HAZMAT site. PG&E did not provide their customers with U.S. or California EPA information regarding these types of energy efficient light bulbs and the hazards associated with their usage and disposal. They failed to note that improper disposal of the bulbs could mean large fines levied by the EPA.
D. PG&E customers were not warned by PG&E that introducing a HAZMAT item (light bulbs), into their homes might mean that their home and other insurance policies may not cover the homeowner or renter in an accident or fire involving these types of light bulbs.
E. PG&E did not provide receptacles for HAZMAT waste disposal, for broken or burned out bulbs and tubes, in the areas near where these light bulbs were installed nor did they warn the local sheriff, hospitals, fire departments, or other emergency workers that they were installing these hazardous light bulbs in Plumas County, California.
It should be noted that the EPA has announced (December 2010), that older fluorescent light bulb ballasts may be leaking PCBs (or oils), in our schools, homes and businesses. The EPA in December 2010, issued new home, school and business clean-up rules for broken bulbs which contain mercury; some types contain arsenic and lead. It is against the law in California, and other states, and punishable by fines if you place these types of bulbs in the normal waste stream. We must take them to a HAZMAT site for disposal [9-11].
Many counties and cities throughout California are banning Smart Meters and rethinking the use of light bulbs that have expensive HAZMAT requirements attached to them, not only in our homes, but in the our waste stream as a whole. It is time to reconsider the use of incandescent light bulbs until safer light bulbs are designed and tested. And it is also time to reconsider the use of SMART Meters when analog meters work just fine in California and other states. END
1, For more information on these issues visit: http://www.agriculturedefensecoalition.org/ or
2, PG&E Analog Meter Information on Website May 1, 2011
3, PG&E Smart Meter Information on Website May 1, 2011
4, The SAGE Report – Released January 1, 2011
5, PG&E Energy Partners Program Website Information May 1, 2011
6, PG&E Plumas County Documents, Contract, Photographs, regarding their Energy Partners Program will be found on this website:
7, In California PG&E is allowing temporary “opt-out” action that can be taken by California residents as reported by a San Francisco Chronicle newspaper article:
The California Public Utilities Commission won’t vote on PG&E’s “OPT-OUT” proposal until mid-September, at the earliest. Until then, customers who have not yet received a SmartMeter can call the company at(877) 743-7378 and ask to “OPT-OUT” until this decision is made. If this number does not allow for the PG&E “OPT-OUT” option either write a letter to the address below or call PG&E Headquarters in San Francisco: (415) 267-7070
Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation – PG&E Corporate Headquarters, President Christopher P. Johns, Members of the PG&E Board of Directors, One Market, Spear Tower, Suite 2400, San Francisco, CA 94105-1126 or residents may call the following PG&E telephone numbers to “opt-out” until the September 2011, ruling by the PUC.
8, California residents may also write to the California Public Utilities Commission in regards to the “opt-out” PG&E plan , filing complaints or raising other issues about PG&E Energy Partners Program, hazardous light bulbs or to express their views on PG&E’s SMART Meter Program. PG&E is a public utility company in California and the California PUC has oversight and other authority over PG&E. PUC Address:
The California Public Utilities Commission, Consumer Affairs Branch
505 Van Ness Avenue, Room 2250, San Francisco, CA 94102
9, CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY WARNING
ON LIGHT BULB HAZARDS: FLUORESCENT, CFLS & LEDS http://www.calepa.ca.gov
Mercury is a natural element that has many uses. However, mercury is a powerful neurotoxin and causes a variety of adverse health effects due to exposure. Those who are at most risk from mercury exposure are pregnant women and developing children. These types of light bulbs also contain arsenic, lead, and older ballasts release PDBs.
It is Illegal to Discard Fluorescent Light Tubes / Lamps in the Trash! “A fluorescent light tube in your dumpster is a violation of the hazardous waste laws. Violation of these laws can result in large fines and criminal prosecution. Fluorescent tubes contain mercury and become hazardous wastes when they no longer work. Mercury poses especially serious hazards to pregnant women and small children. Nonworking tubes must be recycled by an authorized recycling firm and cannot be discarded in the trash…”
10, Fluorescent tubes and bulbs and other mercury-containing lamps: These types “…Include Fluorescent light tubes and bulbs, high intensity discharge (HID), metal halide, sodium and neon bulbs. These lights contain mercury vapor that may be released to the environment when they are broken. Mercury is a toxic metal that can cause harm to people and animals including nerve damage and birth defects. If mercury is released into the environment it can contaminate the air we breathe and enter streams, rivers and the ocean, where it can contaminate fish that people eat.
11, When a fluorescent light breaks please refer to the following guidelines found on this website which include but are not limited to the following:
Open all doors and windows to ventilate the area for at least 15 minutes. Turn off your AC/Fan/Heater so as not to circulate any mercury vapor. Young children and pregnant women should leave the area during cleanup. Wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as a dust mask and gloves to keep bulb dust and glass from being inhaled or contacting your skin. Carefully remove the larger pieces and place them in a secure closed container. Next, begin collecting the smaller pieces and dust. It is recommended that you use two stiff pieces of paper such as index cards or one of the many commercial mercury spill kits available. Put all material into a sealed container. Pat the area with the sticky side of duct, packing or masking tape. Wipe the area with a damp cloth. Put all waste and materials used to clean up the bulb in a secure closed container and label it “Universal Waste – broken lamp”. Take the container for recycling to the household hazardous waste facility (HHW) nearest you.
12, PG&E Press Release April 24, 2011 Regarding their Request to the PUC for an “opt-out” program in California:
13, Another side of SMART METERS and how they work:
November 1, 2010 In this invitational presentation to the San Francisco Tesla Society consulting engineer Rob States explains how PG&E’s so-called ‘smart’ meters work and why they may endanger health and privacy.