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Smart Meter Opt-Out Passed -- With a Cost

California Public Utilities Commission approves plan to allow PG&E to charge those customers who choose to opt out of the Smart Meter program.

Over boos and hisses from opponents of PG&E's Smart Meter program, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted today to of recieving the controversial wireless digital meters.

In a unanimous decision, the CPUC adopted a set of program modifications, which allow PG&E to recover costs associated with replacing Smart Meters or letting customers keep older analog devices.

The CPUC said that the Smart Meters are meant to help reduce energy consumption by wirelessly monitoring usage and allowing customers to opt-in to energy conservation programs. .

The metering systems are being installed as part of a nationwide "smart grid" in 25 states around the country, CPUC President Michael Peevey said.

Opponents of the meters argue that the meters emit harmful electromagnetic
signals and radiation, and that FCC standards don't go far enough. Critics have also raised concerns about the privacy and data security issues related to the meters, and about .

Peevey quoted studies by the Federal Communications Commission and , which concluded that potential negative health effects from SmartMeters had not been "identified or confirmed."

Customers electing to keep analog meters will be assessed an initial fee of $75 and a monthly charge of $10. Low-income customers can opt out of the Smart Meter program for an initial fee of $10 and an ongoing monthly charge of $5.

Speakers from across Northern California packed the commission CPUC auditorium in San Francisco, some demanding that the CPUC reconsider charging fees for customers who opt-out of the program, others demanding an end to wireless meters altogether.

Residents of Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Marin and San Luis Obispo counties claimed that SmartMeters were responsible for headaches, dizziness, insomnia, and heart palpitations.

Fairfax, along with unincorporated Marin, continue to have a . In Fairfax, however, . In unincorporated Marin, the Sheriff and District Attorney have said they have no intention of enforcing the ordinance, but in Fairfax the moratorium has more backing from the town. It is unclear, though, if PG&E begins installing the meters in Fairfax, what steps the town will take to stop the utility.

The CPUC has said they will consider other concerns in a Phase 2 hearing, including the issue of community-wide opt-outs.

Fairfax Councilman Larry Bragman urged the CPUC to enact a moratorium on installations while considering these issues.

"Given the level of concern in our communities, there will undoubtedly be many thousands of customers who will elect to opt-out based upon individual medical concerns, and they should not, and cannot, be forced to pay a fee to do so," Bragman also stated in a press release.

Peevey said that the CPUC was responding to the concerns raised by the public by offering an avenue to opt out of the SmartMeter program.

"For those of you who want to opt out, you now have the option," Peevey said.

Do you think the paid opt-out goes far enough?

-- Bay City News contributed to this article

Rico February 02, 2012 at 02:23 AM
I still have an analog meter because I have a solar system that is tied to the power grid and back feeds power to PG&E. The new so called smart electric meters are not compatible with customers who generate their own renewable energy and sell the extra back to PG&E to go to nearby customers use. The power that I generate does not go very far back on the power grid, just feeds customers nearby. I have been paying PG&E to read my meter at this address for decades, so why should I have to pay a fee to opt out of a meter program that I never could have opted into ? I sympathize with people that have the new automated meters and did not ever opt in or order them, but also it is the customers like myself who are doing our part to reduce greenhouse gasses, reliance of burning fossil fuels, reducing our carbon footprint, reducing our electrical load on the power grid and investing a lot of money to do so who are getting burned. I don't think it is fair at all, but I will grudgingly comply if PG&E insists, it's not that much money, but it is the principal of the decision that I don't like one bit. By the way, the revenue collection system (the AMI meters and the radio networks) are now called the revenue collection "smart grid", but they are not the power grid. And the privately owned electrical distribution systems in peoples houses are now called "the consumer smart grid" , that is what the marketers of the HAN's call them, both systems have nothing to do with our power grid
Alex Zwissler February 02, 2012 at 02:45 PM
I've written on this topic extensively and won't repeat my previous comments, as I've vowed to let it go. I will make a simple prediction. The actual number of folks who will opt out will be minuscule, and not because of the price. This is a topic about which a very small number of folks feel extremely passionate, and they have effectively organized themselves to give the appearance of greater numbers. But at the end of the day, Statewide, I would put the number in the hundreds who will opt out. Just my opinion.
Sierra Salin February 02, 2012 at 04:13 PM
This IS extortion sanctioned by a corrupt P.U.C. It is ALL about PROFITS, and has little to do with conservation of anything. Corporate dictatorship by thugs is here already, and we lemmings have given away our liberty. Alex, what say you to the unfortunate people who ARE sensitive and affected by the tech, let them eat cake, sacrifice them, and too bad for you? All humans appear to care about is war, profits, and being able to consume every scrap of nature for personal gain. Shame on us. Oops.
Rico February 02, 2012 at 04:45 PM
I read one article that said 40 to 60 percent of PG&E customers would opt out if there was no extra rate increases (fees) involved. The point is, people never opted in to the AMR meter program in the first place, so they should not to have to opt out, it's a sham. All this talk by progressive people in Marin about expanding renewable energy development with solar, hydro, geothermal and other alternate energy generation on a local level with a micro power grid can be dismissed if people also want the new "SmartMeters". The current deployment of "SmartMeters" does not support customer generated energy being fed back to the power grid because these new meters do not record and give credit for current flowing back to the power grid from individual customers. All the customers who are presently or are considering investing in a grid tied solar system must have either a traditional E1 analog meter or a digital E6 TOU meter, these meters do not have wireless automated reading functions and are not called "SmartMeters", they must be read monthly by a meter reader. So the people that are generating their own electricity are doing a great service (and investing a lot of money too) to help the environment and increase available power on the grid are being unfairly penalized by more rate increases. Also, people considering investing in electric vehicles need to buy a separate E9 meter for $4000+ to take advantage of low rates of .06 per KWh between 12am and 7am.
Rico February 02, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Sierra, You are 100 % correct about everything. The AMR meter program cost the ratepayers $2.2 billion+, do not save energy in any way, are dangerous and inaccurate, and do not promote alternate energy systems. It is ALL about profit for the utilities and meter manufacturers. PG&E has been charging the ratepayers to fund the meter reading department forever. By PG&E eliminating the meter reading department, they can take the $80 million per year costs and put in the pockets of the owners/investors and the CPUC. PG&E is not going to offer a rebate to their customers for this cost saving scam, in fact they raised their rates to pay for the program. And they hope to sucker some customers into volunteering to sign up for differential pricing schemes called "smart pricing" in the future, further gouging the ratepayers.
Richard Raznikov February 02, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Sierra is right, indeed. When are we going to run crooks like Peevey out of the state at the end of pitchforks? The P.U.C. is been in bed with P.G.&E. to the detriment of the ratepayers. These commissioners are complicit in the utility's crimes, from poisoning groundwater to causing explosions and killing people. We need a grand jury to go after them.
valeri hood February 02, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Special Town Council meeting for February 13th to discuss the status of the Smart Meter moratorium in Fairfax-opt out scenarios for private homeowners and regional opt-outs--The CPUC has decided that opt outs are ok if we are willing to pay for them- we will still be surrounded by the wireless mesh network and problems with the smart meter system--the idea of a town wide/regional opt out will be a model for all communities opposed to the installation of smart meters and antennae systems Please attend the council meeting and we'll talk about the options we have at this time. Customers have already paid for their analog meters and the smart meters. Now we are being told that we have to pay for the 'right' to keep or analogs. Important points to remember: 1) PG&E will continue to install Smart Meters in California along with ConEdison in Southern CA. 2) In continuing to install them without public consent or knowledge customers will have to pay the $75.00 to remove them because the CPUC ruling does not stop the installation process and they are not stopping installations. 3) People will have to formally opt out or face installation. People in San Anselmo have been calling, saying that PG$E are doing nighttime stealth installations.
Rico February 02, 2012 at 07:59 PM
valeri, Is that really true that in San Anselmo PG&E is doing nigh time installations ? If so, they better not try that stuff down here in south county, they will be chewed up by dogs or riddled with bullets, or both.
Kelly Dunleavy O'Mara February 02, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Keep in mind, San Anselmo has no moratorium in place of any kind.
Toby February 02, 2012 at 10:26 PM
I think it's great that concerned citizens have the right to opt out. However, our family would like a smart meter to better monitor and manage our electricity use, and cut down our environmental impact. It's very hard to track down the big energy hogs without real time kWh tracking, which smart meters provide. So, I hope Fairfax does not keep a ban in place that might prevent those of us interested in getting smart meters from doing so. That is not how democracy should work.
Rico February 03, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Toby, According to PG&E, the new meters display total electrical use on the meter, but the only way a customer will ever be able to view their real time electricity use is to go out and look at the meter. Is that what you do ? Or are you just parroting the false advertising on the TV commercials that we all paid for. I noticed that PG&E has stopped airing all those expensive commercials on all the networks about 3 weeks ago. Perhaps PG&E was worried about being sued for false advertising. The meters do "provide" real time display on the meter, but that information is not transmitted to the utility over their "smart radio grid". If a customer wants to view electricity use past tense, they must sign up for an account with PG&E online and pay for high speed broadband service (about $60 per month) and buy a computer and monitor to see their previous electrical usage. But I ask, what good is that information since it is not real time, and how is that supposed to manage or save energy ?
Al Baylacq February 03, 2012 at 06:31 AM
Hey Toby, Simply teach your family members to "turn IT off", that will save you electricity. Do you really need some DUMBmeter to tell you how to save electricity?
valeri hood February 03, 2012 at 06:58 AM
San Anselmo community members attempted to pass a moratorium. Only Ford Greene and Jeff Kroot voted for it. 2 of the 3 other council members should have recused themselves- Tom MacInerny(sp) refused to do so, even tho' he has represented PGE in the past. So- Kelly is right, but there was some willingness- just not enough.
valeri hood February 03, 2012 at 06:58 AM
That's about it- short and sweet and to the point!
Rico February 03, 2012 at 06:56 PM
There is more to this decision by the PUC to allow another rate increase for refusing a new AMR wireless meter. A source closely involved with PUC matters told me that there is a hidden rate increase that will be forced on customers who have analog meters to compensate for the facts that PG&E won't be able to implement peak pricing schemes on customers because PG&E will not be able to discern at what time electricity is being used. I will report back when I know more of the details.
Bill McGee February 03, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Ricardo - anyone can view thier hourly energy usage online. Your use of the term real-time is misleading. One can view their hourly, daily, monthly usage online with a 24-hour delay. Who cares that you must wait 24 hours? No one. Also, most people already have an internet connection, computer, monitor etc. Your posts are just as much as an attempt to mislead as PG&E's ads. Two wrongs don't make a right. Truth prevails Pulipaca.
Bill McGee February 03, 2012 at 08:08 PM
right Ricardo...the little birdie told you.
Vera Grigorian February 17, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Charging a set-up and monthly service fee for those who wish to opt out of the Smart Meter Installation is PG&E's way of telling us that we really cannot opt out. I do not trust anything that PG&E says to us customers about the benefits of their Smart Meters. I don't want one and I should not be charged monthly to not have one. My family can save energy without a Smart Meter, thank you very much. Certainly, if people are complaining of headaches and other symptoms, the safety of these devices must be investigated more thoroughly by an outside party. We would definitely opt out were there no fee imposed.

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