Demonstrate and Speak Out at October 2nd CPUC Meeting

-6Demonstrate Thursday, Oct. 2 8:30am- then…

Speak at CPUC Meeting 9:30am 505 Van Ness SF

Rumor has it that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is preparing to make a decision in the smart meter opt out proceeding case, after delaying for more than a year.

Stop Smart Meters! and allied groups are calling for people to demonstrate outside and speak inside at the CPUC’s October 2nd regular business meeting to demand an end to Michael Peevey, and an end to the sleaze and corruption that line the CPUC’s halls.

Remember the public participation hearings in December of 2012 where more than 500 Californians spoke out against smart meters and the “opt out” fees that the utilities are using to prop up a hazardous and failing smart grid?

Now nearly two years later, and the CPUC has failed to rule on the issue and remained silent about the serious risks brought to its attention by the public, whistleblowers, and local politicians.  Perhaps they are hoping that if they drag this out long enough, people (and their complaints) will just go away.  Just the reverse is more likely.  If you ignore a festering wound, it just gets worse.

The CPUC that has been roundly criticized by the media, the public, and even its own staff over inappropriate and illegal collusion between Commissioners and PG&E as part of the San Bruno case.  This echoes our own experience of collusion between PG&E and the CPUC during the “Ralph” spy case in 2010, where it appeared that CPUC staff, paid by taxpayers, were actually working for PG&E rather than the public.

Meanwhile, neighboring Nevada has launched an inquiry into dozens of fire and electrical incidents from smart meters after a 61 year old woman and her animals were killed and a man’s face was burned in Reno earlier this year.

The house of cards is falling, all it needs is a little nudge from you, California:

DEMONSTRATION Thursday, October 2nd 8:30am  505 Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco at the corner of McAllister under the Great Seal of the State of CaliforniaMeeting starts at 9:30am.  Sign in at the table in the foyer, but even if you don’t, you are entitled to speak for at least one minute if you arrive before the end of public comment.  Yes we know it is a toxic atmosphere there (in more ways than one) but especially if you have never spoken out at a meeting, it is important to get the facts on the record.

Here is some of what we plan to say:

1) Demand that Michael Peevey and Michael Florio immediately resign, as they have shown repeatedly that they are not capable of making decisions in the public interest.

2) Demand an end to extortionate “opt out” fees and a full refund to any customer who has paid them with the incorrect assumption that these are legal fees.

3) Not interfere with community opt out decisions made by elected local governments

4) Immediately launch an independent investigation into the widely documented health and fire hazards of smart meters. (Nevada PUC has ordered a preliminary fire investigation this week)

5) Order So Cal Gas and SCE to cease double charging many Southern Californian customers opt out fees

6) Call on the state legislature to dissolve the CPUC and put an end to the “corruptness and sleazy environment (led by) an untouchable mob boss” (this according to CPUC’s own staff)

If you can’t attend the meeting (or even if you can) write an e-mail that includes the above numbered points and send to CPUC Commissioners:

CPUC Commissioners (cut and paste into the “to” field of your e-mail):

cjs@cpuc.ca.gov, mp1@cpuc.ca.gov, mp6@cpuc.ca.gov, mf1@cpuc.ca.gov, cap@cpuc.ca.gov

Please Cc Sandoval’s aide and key legislators from the Assembly Budget Subcommittee that grilled the PUC last year. (cut and paste into your e-mail’s Cc field)

dmk@cpuc.ca.gov, sean.macneil@asm.ca.gov, steve.harmon@asm.ca.gov, lucas.frerichs@asm.ca.gov, vance.jarrard@asm.ca.gov, assemblymember.patterson@assembly.ca.gov, gabrielle.meindl@asm.ca.gov, michael.bedard@asm.ca.gov, jchris.holtz@asm.ca.gov

Thank you for taking action to remove Michael Peevey and to return sanity and safety to the policy debate around smart meters.  See you on the 2nd!

Posted in Animal Harm, California, Citizen rebellion, CPUC, Democracy, Fires, legal issues, neighborhood organizing, Nevada, PG&E, San Francisco | 1 Comment

Residents of Alamo Heights in San Antonio, Texas Win Support of City Council in “Spark Meter” Battle

Dozens of residents speak to Alamo Heights City Council on Monday evening

Dozens of residents speak to Alamo Heights City Council on Monday evening

ALAMO HEIGHTS, TX—  Monday evening, more than 20 residents spoke out at the city council meeting of this San Antonio, TX suburb where municipal utility CPS Energy plans an imminent installation of smart meters.  After hearing from dozens of residents, the city council voted during closed session to send a letter to CPS asking for a 1 year moratorium on any smart meter installations within the city.  It remains to be seen to what extent the utility will respect this request.

Opposition is being organized and led by the fledgling but fast growing Stop Smart Meters! San Antonio.  We have been working closely with the group over the past few weeks, providing technical and strategic assistance as they launch their local campaign.

Three thousand brochures based on the Stop Smart Meters! design have been sent to every household in Alamo Heights and these have boosted resident awareness and participation in the political process.  In response, the CPS propaganda machine is busily spreading misinformation in the area.

Susan Straus and her cat Oliver

Susan Straus and her cat Oliver

The founder of the group is Susan Straus, a Trager bodywork therapist, artist, and animal rescuer who grew up in Alamo Heights.  She also happens to be the sister of Joe Straus, the local state representative and Speaker of the Texas House.   When people ask Joe what he thinks about smart meters, he has been reputed to say, “Ask my sister- she’ll tell you all about them.”

Realizing the implications of a smart meter deployment in their community, Susan and another local San Antonio group, Coalition for Safe Meters, has mobilized a group of professional and educated residents to speak out.

One of those people who has mobilized is Elliot Weser, MD Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio who wrote to the council two weeks ago the following:

“There is substantial documented data and reports of house and apartment fires attributed to these Smart Meters (all brands), as well as risks of biomedical effects and serious illnesses from the radiation associated with the electromagnetic fields generated by Smart Meters and the grid it creates. Additionally, they impose definite risks for further invasion of our right to privacy, by making our personal activities and habits available for monitoring and control, and possible distribution to unauthorized persons or corporations.”

The Alamo Heights Mule: Stomping out the problem

The Alamo Heights Mule: Dealing with unwanted equipment

Stop Smart Meters! San Antonio’s case has also been strengthened by the recent tragic events in Reno.   Only the most unscrupulous and unreasonable utility executive would recommend proceeding with a new smart meter deployment while they are being investigated (and in many cases, recalled) for causing home fires and multiple fatalities.

The massive public response to the city council meeting on Monday evening has emboldened the group, who are now planning to beef up their outreach activities in preparation for what appears to be an imminent forced deployment.   The group plans to initiate a community planning process that will decide what an adequate response will be if CPS does decide to try and install against the city’s wishes.

Susan tells StopSmartMeters.Org:

“This has been a huge learning curve for me- I have spent more than 500 hours since July 24th researching smart meters and I am truly appalled by what I have learned.  I had no clue what smart meters even were.  Now, knowing the truth, I feel like the utilities are overstepping boundaries and our property rights are being taken away- unless we stand our ground.”

She goes on to say:

“Our group is grateful to Josh Hart and the team at StopSmartMeters.org for bringing us to this point with their expertise and moral leadership. With your assistance, we have now successfully convinced our city council to stand with us for a moratorium.  We expect CPS to respect our local democratic process, and there will certainly be repercussions if that does not happen.”

MySanAntonio article on Alamo Heights resident mobilization

Local TV Coverage: Homeowners ask Leaders to Stop Smart Meter Installation

You can contact Susan and Stop Smart Meters! San Antonio at:    info[at]sanantoniosmartmeterawareness[dot]org

Update 9/26: CPS has sent an arrogant and demeaning letter to the City of Alamo Heights referring to “several” citizens concerns when in fact the demand for a moratorium was from the city as a whole.  They also claim that they were planning to install in Spring 2015 all along (another lie: smart meter installation was imminent, and in fact delayed by the city’s courageous actions.)

Posted in Citizen rebellion, Democracy, Fires, neighborhood organizing, Safety, Smart Grid, Texas | Comments Off

PSREC Confused About The Law (Again)

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SSM! Founder Josh Hart went to the local rural electric “cooperative” to speak to other members about how PSREC has singled his family out for disconnection and retribution.

While Reno, NV Fire Chief Tom Garrison was holding a press conference on Saturday about the series of fires likely caused by “smart” meters that have led to at least one death, an hour’s drive to the northwest, Plumas Sierra Rural Electric “Co-op(ted)” (PSREC) were desperately attempting to quash any discussion of the safety problems with their own smart meters.

PSREC cut off our electricity on Feb. 19th for refusing to pay  smart meter “opt out fees.”  We thought that was rather rude.  And we didn’t think much of the intimidation tactics, coercion, yelling or lying that followed it.  But sadly it is what we have come to expect from the electric utility industry in 2014.  On Saturday, rather than ensuring the safety of their grid, it seemed that PSREC’s staff were far busier monitoring and attempting to suppress our demonstration, filming us and walkie-talkie-ing with each other.

Though PSREC is still sending us monthly member bills for “opt out” charges we never agreed to, and which other members with analogs are not being billed for, they refused entry to their annual member meeting, stripping me of membership and the right to vote in the board election without explanation.  They told me if I attempted to attend the meeting, I would be arrested for trespassing on their property.

Not in the mood for a visit to the County jail, I went back to the public highway and held a sign and spoke to passersby in front of their HQ.   But that wasn’t good enough for PSREC.  They had already ‘dismembered‘ me- now they wanted me gone.

While they summoned every law enforcement resource within a hundred square miles, I peacefully demonstrated and distributed our brochures to members attending the Annual Meeting and Luncheon.  Most people were supportive and had heard about our mistreatment by the utility.

I asked the PSREC employees “guarding” me whether they were requiring an extra fee to use the disabled parking in front of their offices: “That’s your thing, right?  Charging more to people with medical conditions?”  I advised them if they wanted to suppress freedom of speech more effectively that they might “want to buy up the whole county” because that type of thing generally isn’t allowed on public property.

PSREC tried to get us removed from the highway in front of their HQ by calling the CHP.

PSREC tried (in vain) to get us removed from the highway in front of their HQ by calling the CHP and Sheriff’s Dept.

A California Highway Patrol Officer showed up and suggested that I should “move down the highway a little” to get out of the way.  Finally common sense and the law prevailed, and a female officer from the Plumas County Sheriff’s Dept. showed up and confirmed I had every right to be there and to express my point of view, and PSREC could do nothing about it.   We chatted for several minutes about the hazards of smart meters, and how PSREC had mistreated our family, while the utility’s staff glared.

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PSREC Staff (in blue) chat with a CHP officer they had summoned to deal with the “emergency” of being confronted by their own negligence

In spite of PSREC’s best efforts to undermine freedom of speech and suppress the truth about their unlawful abuse of customers and their hazardous smart meters, the First Amendment remains the law of the land.

Though a local newspaper reporter interviewed me and took my photo, not a word was mentioned in the paper this week.  Smoky the Bear’s appearance at the meeting was apparently more worthy of space in the local rag than people being killed  by smart meter fires in Reno, or locals who refuse to pay to avoid the deadly meters getting their power cut off and harassed with threats of arrest.

Fred Nelson, one of the PSREC board members walked by on the way to the meeting and I told him we would like our electricity turned back on before winter.  He glanced back with a smirk, and said, “you know the deal.”

We do know the deal, Fred- and the deal is rotten.

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While Reno’s paper focused on the hazards to life and property posed by smart meters…..

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….50 miles away, the local Portola Reporter was more interested in what people were eating, as well as a man dressed in a Smoky the Bear suit.

 

 

Posted in California, Citizen rebellion, Democracy, legal issues, neighborhood organizing, Nevada, Plumas County, Police, PSREC, Safety, Smart Grid | 6 Comments

Nevada Fire Marshal Calls for Smart Meter Investigation After Fire Death in Reno

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One of several smart meter fires in Reno NV and one of hundreds if not thousands across the US and around the world

Update 9/16/14: Nevada State Fire Marshal Calls for Statewide Investigation Into Smart Meter Fire Hazards (Reno Gazette-Journal)

KTVN Reno Local TV Coverage

It was reported by the Reno Gazette over the weekend that a 61 year old Reno woman and her two animals died from a fire apparently caused by a Nevada Energy smart meter on her home in late July. Our deepest condolences to her family and her friends and neighbors, and we declare our mutual outrage that this issue has been ‘left to smoulder’ for years by corrupt state and federal officials, even as people lose their lives.

According to Reno Fire Chief Tom Garrison, there have been more than dozen incidents in the Reno/ Sparks area including one that burned a man’s face.

The fires in Reno started in Sensus meters, the brand that has been subject to safety recalls in Saskatchewan, Oregon, and Florida.  It’s also the company who fired whistleblower Don Baker, a former employee who tried to bring this hazard to their attention).  But it’s not just Sensus meters.  Since the beginning, there have been problems including fires and explosions with GE, Landis & Gyr, Itron, and others.

Apparently, having untrained workers install non-UL approved, flammable plastic meters stuffed with untested transmitters and electronics in them, carrying the full electrical load of a building, and left out in the elements may not have been such a great idea.  Who knew?  What we do know is that Larry Nikkel and Michelle Sherman (and how many others?) would be alive today if regulators had done their job and utilities obeyed the law.

A smart meter fire can be particularly dangerous according to Reno Fire Chief Garrison, because:

“they start on the outside of the house, won’t be picked up by indoor smoke detectors and can escape immediate notice.

‘It can burn a long time and enter the attic or the walls,”‘Garrison said. ‘The occupants inside may not even be aware the house is on fire. This is very alarming to me.’

NV Energy is the same company who came to a woman’s house with armed men and disconnected her electricity for choosing a safe analog meter.   StopSmartMeters.Org has also been the target of utility abuse.  Here we are in one of the worst droughts in the West’s history, living in a dry forest, having been cut off by PSREC the local electric company because we refused to pay a fee for a safe, non-combusting analog meter.

Something ain’t right here folks.

In other tragic and preventable news, our colleagues over at Stop Smart Meters! Massachusetts have issued the below press release, renewing their calls for a full investigation into the costly, ineffective, and hazardous smart meter program in that state after last month’s death of a 6 year old girl in New York state from Carbon Monoxide poisoning after National Grid cut the family’s electricity off.

The home where a six year old girl died following a utility disconnection

The home where a six year old girl died following a utility disconnection

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Stop Smart Meters Massachusetts
Contact: Patricia Burke patricia999burke[at]gmail[dot]com

The death of a 6 year-old girl in a NY home where National Grid cut off electricity for non-payment has amplified human rights and environmental activist group Stop Smart Meters Massachusetts’ request for an investigation into the expense to ratepayers of the Department of Public Utilities smart meter mandate. The group has also called for an audit of the controversial $48M, 15,000 meter Worcester pilot program, which is 5 times larger and far more expensive than the Green Communities Act mandate.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected in the NY death due to the use of an indoor propane heater. The Chicago area Advanced Metering Infrastructure Health Impact Assessment, conducted in partnership between the National Center for Medical Legal Partnership at Boston Medical Center, and Citizens Utility Board noted that customers deprived of electricity often turn to unsafe alternatives, endangering health and safety.

Wireless smart meters enable two-way communication between the utility and the home. 111 municipalities in Quebec have called for a moratorium and/or free opt out. Germany has rejected smart meter deployment. In the UK, the Committee of Public Accounts issued a report Sept. 9 casting doubt over the validity of the smart meter rollout, raising concerns over the cost-benefit to consumers and the ability of the energy market to keep costs down.  Nations including Italy, the site of the Vatican leukemia lawsuit, opted for safer, faster; more secure hard-wired technology. Italy is not collecting private usage data from customers. Lakeland, Florida; Saskatchewan, Canada; Pennsylvania, and Oregon have removed thousands of smart meters due to fire hazards.

The Worcester pilot program, which included 242 microwave antennas, has been delayed due to contentious zoning battles regarding placement of
towers in residential neighborhoods. Despite the fact that the pilot program has not proven smart meter effectiveness, the DPU has already mandated the technology for MA investor-owned utilities, estimated at a cost of over $7B to ratepayers.

Tim Knauss of Syracuse.com reported that in NY, “For the past decade, in good times and bad, National Grid has reported more than 200,000 customers a month – roughly one in seven – who are at least two months behind on their bills. Each year since 2006, National Grid has terminated between 49,000 and 61,000 residential accounts for nonpayment in its Upstate territory, which extends from Albany to Buffalo. For some customers, there is “a permanent level of unaffordability built into the rates,” said William Yates, a senior financial analyst at Public Utility Law Project.

Informed activists caution that the costly technology is untested, has not been monitored for environmental and health impacts, and relies on FCC guidelines that have not been reviewed since 1996. Concerns are mounting that consumers will be forced to pay for the technology twice, once for the initial installation, and then for the replacement cost once the shortcomings of the system are readily apparent.

The Department of Public Utilities relied on the testimony of tobacco scientist Peter Valberg from the product defense firm Gradient, while reports such as the Seletun Scientific Statement recognize biological harm occurring at radio frequency exposure levels far below US exposure guidelines, which have never been tested for children, pregnant women, the infirm, medically vulnerable, or elderly.

The Berkshire-Litchfield Environmental Council, which provided testimony in opposition to smart meters for MA DPU docket 12-76 stated, “The smart grid
is increasingly understood as an over engineered, ill-advised, financial
boondoggle at taxpayer expense, capable of endangering the security of the
entire national grid, violating constitutional privacy protections and
endangering public health. In addition, the smart grid/metering has not been found to save energy when all the new variables in the system are factored in. Plus, time-of-use pricing is largely punitive to those who can least afford it. Time-of-use pricing is fundamentally a Wall Street model designed to maintain shareholder profits as we transition to more energy efficient models that will reduce demand.”

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Posted in Citizen rebellion, Class Issues and Social Equality, Democracy, Environmental Concerns, FCC, Federal Government, Fires, Installer Threats and Assaults, Massachusetts, Nevada, Plumas County, PSREC, Safety, Smart Grid, Time of Use Pricing, U.K. | 2 Comments

111 Quebec Municipalities Call for Moratorium, Free Choice; Thousands of Smart Meters Recalled in Arizona and Florida

MeltFrom TakeBackYourPower.net:

Quebec activist Jean Hudon brings us news that 111 municipalities in Quebec have now called for a moratorium and or free opt-out of “smart” meters:

This news comes amidst Quebec’s emerging overbilling scandal and fire-related recalls throughout North America –

• An anonymous APS whistleblower in Arizona leaked that 50 to 60 thousand faulty “smart” meters are being replaced

Lakeland, Florida recalls more than 10,000 meters because of fire risk

Those who continue to attempting to deploy unproven, harmful technology while withholding critical facts must be held to account.

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Check out the following upcoming screenings of the smart meter documentary Take Back Your Power.  If you don’t see your local town listed, why not buy the DVD or host a screening?

5 Sept – Tustin, CA
6 Sept – Seattle, WA (w/ Josh del Sol)
7 Sept – Seattle, WA – info
10 Sept – Medina, WA
13 Sept [Television] – CTP12, Denver, CO – info
13 Sept – Rangitikei, New Zealand
14 Sept – Vero Beach, FL
16 Sept – Madison, WI – flyer
18 Sept – Rye, NY
7 Nov – Grass Valley, CA (w/ Josh Hart and Eric Windheim)

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QUOTE OF THE DAY:

Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Posted in Arizona, Citizen rebellion, Fires, Florida, Quebec, Smart Grid | 1 Comment