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California | Santa Cruz Indymedia | U.S. | Health, Housing, and Public Services

PG&E Begins Removing 'Smart' Meters Due to Health Effects
by Joshua Hart
Tuesday Nov 1st, 2011 1:39 PM
Santa Cruz, Calif.—Just as PG&E enters the final phase of its deployment of wireless “smart” meters in California, the largest of the state’s Investor Owned Utilities (IOU’s) has reversed course, quietly beginning to replace the ‘smart’ meters of those reporting health impacts with the old trusty analog version. Consumer rights and health groups immediately seized on the news, demanding that millions of Californians unhappy with their new wireless meters get their analogs returned immediately at no cost.

‘Smart’ meters are new wireless utility meters being installed as part of the “smart” grid initiative, spearheaded by technology firms and backed by the Obama administration and the Department of Energy. Promises ranging from lower utility bills to enhanced renewable generation capacity have failed to materialize, with widespread reports of higher bills, privacy violations, fires and explosions, and commonly reported health impacts such as headaches, nausea, tinnitus, and heart problems associated with powerful wireless transmissions. Widely disparate political groups- from members of the Green Party to the Tea Party and Occupy protesters have attacked the program, and dozens of grassroots organizations have sprouted up over the past several months to fight what they call an undemocratic, unconstitutional and dangerous assault on people in their own homes and neighborhoods. Dozens of people have been detained or arrested for peaceful civil disobedience and even simply speaking out against deployments.

In California, more than 47 cities and counties have demanded a halt to halt installation, and a dozen local governments have passed laws prohibiting the controversial technology. The ‘smart’ meter issue has further angered a public already seething at the utilities over repeated gas explosions, safety breaches at nuclear reactors, and an increasingly extortionate rate structure. Word of California’s ‘smart’ meter nightmare has spread across the country and around the world, prompting some utilities to place smart meter plans on hold, and recently Nevada’s PUC to call for investigations into the health effects and other smart meter problems.

Now in a dramatic turnaround that could signal the beginning of a widespread recall of wireless ‘smart’ meters, on October 28th PG&E re-installed a classic spinning disc analog meter on the home of Santa Cruz, CA resident Caitlin Phillips, who had been suffering headaches and other symptoms from her ‘smart’ meter. The move comes in response to verbal directives from the California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey, who recently told members of the public that the utility “will provide for you to go back to the analog meter if that’s your choice.” The CPUC has been slow to respond to thousands of ordinary citizens reporting health effects from the new meters.

When a Wellington Energy installer (contracted with PG&E) came to install a smart meter at her home, Caitlin asked the installer to get off her property and not install, because of what a neighbor had told her about possible health damage and privacy violations. “When I returned home later, I discovered a smart meter on my house. That night I awoke to severe anxiety, headache, and buzzing in my teeth, and realized the new smart meter was on the other side of the wall from my bed.” Caitlin reported her experience to PG&E and the CPUC, who both declined to rectify the situation. When the symptoms persisted, Caitlin sought the assistance of the Scotts Valley based group Stop Smart Meters! who provided an analog meter and referred her to a professional who could help her remove her ‘smart’ meter. As soon as the analog was installed, Caitlin’s symptoms disappeared.

Frustrated and outraged about her treatment by the utility and the PUC, Caitlin travelled to San Francisco to speak at a commission meeting on Oct. 20th. About a week later, PG&E crews were at her house replacing her temporary analog meter with a brand new official PG&E analog meter. This is believed to be the first time PG&E have willingly replaced an analog meter on the home of someone suffering from health effects.

An “opt-out” proceeding overseen by an Administrative Law Judge is underway at the CA Public Utilities Commission, yet those suffering (in some cases severe) health impacts have been stuck in limbo as utilities refuse to remove the harmful meters upon request- until now.

“There are hundreds of thousands- if not millions- of people suffering in their homes from forced ‘smart’ meter radiation,” said Joshua Hart, Director of the grassroots organization Stop Smart Meters! “The utilities and PUC’s must respond promptly to all requests that analogs be returned. The alternative is that people will increasingly turn to independent professionals to remove unwanted ‘smart’ meters from their homes, a reasonable action we assert is within our legal rights. Protecting your family’s health is not tampering.”

PG&E and other utilities have also been responding to health complaints by replacing wireless ‘smart’ meters with digital meters that are “wireless-ready.” These digital meters have been associated with health problems from “dirty electricity” frequencies that pass into a home via the electrical wiring. These “trojan horse” meters have been roundly rejected by those who report continuing health impacts after installation. Susan Brinchman, Director of San Diego based Center for Electrosmog Prevention. said “At this point, the burden of responsibility is on the utilities to demonstrate that any new meter they want to install on our homes is safe. Communities have the right to retain analog meters at no extra charge. Period.”
~end~
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by Joshua Hart Tuesday Nov 1st, 2011 1:39 PM
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Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Coral Reef
Tuesday Nov 1st, 2011 4:32 PM
This is a great win for justice for those suffering. Common knowledge that widescale effect from meters exist in various manifestations. It is my hope that we get the written law in tandem with applied law. No looking the other way while some meters get removed, others don't. Let it be done in accordance with what those who opt out agree and let it happen for them well. For others lets hope the enforcement of the non installation ordinance be there.

Hear more on this recall on the website above.

Coral Reef
101.1 FM
freakradio.org
by Robert Norse
Thursday Nov 3rd, 2011 1:22 AM
Josh Hart and Bob Lamonika will be debating the value and significance of smart meters as well as discussing recent events around them on Bathrobespierre's Broadsides a week from Sunday. The show will broadcast at 101.! FM (back on the air again--hooray!) and stream at http://www.freakradio.org. It'll also be archived at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb111113.mp3 (about 2 1/2 hours into the audio file).

Call-in to join the discussion at 831-427-3772 and 831-469-3119. Or e-mail questions and comments to rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com .
by Bob Lamonica
Thursday Nov 3rd, 2011 9:09 AM
That's a "c", Robert, not a "k". as in Bob Lamonica, and not Bob Avakian.

See you then, and danke. Should be electro-magnetic fun. Free Radio listeners may want to stock up on EMF protection gear beforehand: http://www.lessemf.com/personal.html
by curious
Wednesday Nov 9th, 2011 10:38 AM
so how can i get my smartmeter removed? who can i call? one was put on my house against my will a few months ago.
by I Lack Irrational Fear of Change
Thursday Nov 10th, 2011 1:52 PM
How incredibly stupid. Smart meters are a good thing, because they'll allow utilities to bill based on the time electric power is actually used. Anyone who actually knows something about the grid knows that this is a good thing for the environment, because power used during peak times is basically an economic and environmental disaster compared to power used during off-peak.

I'm pretty disappointed to see leftists grab a hold of superstition about EM radiation to fight this excellent development. If you think anything with the word "radiation" in it is a bad thing, you should probably start living in the dark because light is EM radiation that's vastly more energetic than the low-frequency radio waves used by these meters to communicate.

Seriously, I'm disappointed. And what a bullshit headline "due to health effects." That implies that there's actually been a shred of evidence produced that radios harm people, or that PG&E even acknowledges that radios harm people.
by curious
Thursday Nov 17th, 2011 6:33 PM
there are many reasons folks are concerned with smart meters. i'm particularly concerned that meters can gather more information as per rates of use, which could be useful information, for us as consumers. unfortunately it is not for us so much as for the corporation that has the monopoly and will exploit it accordingly.
history has also shown that while some technologies have not been directly harmful, others that were said to be safe went relatively unnoticed until it was too late. i say if we don't need it, why change it.
also, it is highly likely the "I Lack Irrational Fear of Change" is actually an employee of pg&e/wellington. all corporations in business hire people to maintain their web presence. otherwise, this person has just swallowed the party line because they fear the resistance. which is worst, fear of technological change or fear of political change?
by A Lady
Friday Nov 18th, 2011 2:13 AM
PG&E would never admit they are harming people! They only care about money as if they need any more. Many people have reported higher bills and physical reactions since having smart meters installed. PG&E has been known to cover up their disasters in the past why would this be any different. It should atleast be optional and not forced.
by John Thielking
Thursday Nov 24th, 2011 12:33 PM
While the health effects due to emf are still yet to be proven to everyone's satisfaction, it should be noted that I had a conversation with a city building inspector in San Jose, CA a few weeks ago and he confirmed that utility meters are not required to be UL listed. It is not suprising then that the new smart meters have been blamed for starting fires.

For an expose on the coverup of the San Bruno pipeline explosion, among other highlights, check out Greg Palast's latest book, Vultures' Picnic. It seems that prior to the San Bruno explosion, PG&E had the technology to detect pipe defects using a device called a PIG, but the software that runs the PIGS was altered by the manufacturer to insure that not too many faulty pipes would be reported by the PIGS.
READ THE PDF

http://www.pge.com/myhome/customerservice/smartmeter/programupdates/

They want to charge people about $150 just to keep the meters they have and $20 a month EXTRA for not getting smart meters!

Someone, please MAKE A FB page about this right now!
by I Lack Irrational Fear of Change
Saturday Dec 3rd, 2011 12:34 AM
Curious said: "also, it is highly likely the "I Lack Irrational Fear of Change" is actually an employee of pg&e/wellington."

I don't know who "Wellington" is, but you're absolutely right. I'm actually an employee of them. I'm part of a vast conspiracy to make it seem like not all progressives are ill-informed about science, technology, and energy policy. You'll find me all over the net, instigating fights by proclaiming that fluorinated water doesn't kill you, vaccines don't kill you, and smart meters don't kill you.

Jesus Christ, the left disappoints me sometimes.