We Are Not ‘Opting Out’………….We Are Refusing to Opt In.

Charging us a fee to protect our health and safety- in this economy- is just not okay.

By Joshua Hart, Director Stop Smart Meters!

The following is written for customers of PG&E in Northern California, but it is also applicable to customers of other utilities around the US and internationally who are unjustifiably charging steep penalties simply to retain one’s analog utility meter.

As PG&E’s arbitrary May 1st deadline for ‘opting out’ of having a smart meter on your home approaches, we’re starting to get a lot of questions from people, asking what to do.  That PG&E certified letter is sitting there on your desk, in the pile of tax papers, and you’ve heard a lot of different opinions about how to best protect yourself from all the documented dangers and violations of smart meters.  Should you send back the form, essentially agreeing to pay hundreds- even thousands of dollars to PG&E over the coming years?  Should you do nothing, refusing to pay opt out fees but also continuing to refuse access to the utility?  Or should you just give up and let them install a smart meter, obeying the authorities despite the overwhelming evidence pointing toward a serious risk to our privacy, health, and safety?

Well it probably doesn’t come as any surprise that we would not recommend allowing a smart meter on your home, under any circumstance.  But what are the risks and advantages of the other two options?  What if you already have a smart meter installed and want it removed?  What if you live in an apartment building with 100 meters on the other side of the wall?  The answers are not simple.  There is just no one sound bite that covers it.  The legal, political, and social contexts surrounding this heated issue are constantly in flux. That doesn’t mean that you can’t adhere to some basic principles and defend your rights against the utility bullies.

As we are not lawyers we cannot offer you legal advice.  But what we can do is to tell you what our plan is, being faced with the unreasonable choice of paying hundreds in fees or accepting a smart meter.

Here’s what we’re planning to do:

•  Ignore their illegal opt out notice.

•  Send the utility a certified letter informing them that they do not have permission to install a telecommunications device on our property.

•  Secure our meters, change the locks, lock our gate,  and post no trespassing utility signs.  Tell any installer to leave immediately and call police if they do not comply.

•  Refuse to pay any extra charges that might show up on our bill.

•  Those in apartment buildings are organizing with other tenants, often getting the support of building managers/ owners.  Organize a meeting and get a speaker.

Some people- for various reasons- are not up for a fight with their utility.  If the only way to keep an analog meter on your home is by going along and paying PG&E’s extortion fee- then by all means pay the feeDo not agree to having a smart meter on your home under any circumstances.  We are telling you these devices are dangerous.  Keep your distance!  Plus, we imagine that obtaining any compensation for damages in the future will be far more difficult if you have agreed to a smart meter installation.

If you are worried about the cost, allowing a smart meter is far more expensive in the end, when you consider meter power consumption (adding about $3 or more onto the average monthly bill), inaccurate and inflated bills, risk of fire, and health damages from microwave radiation. Paying ten bucks a month is actually a bargain, when you consider the horrific alternative.  This program should never have been approved by regulators in the first place.  The smart grid is bad energy policy that is hurting people in the wallets, hurting health, and hurting the environment they’re pretending to save.  That is why we need to protest, and refuse the fees, together.

It’s critical to understand your rights and the utility company’s rights. The one huge mistake we see people making again and again is deferring to the utility to tell them what their rights are.   Do not call up the utility company to ask them what your rights are against the utility company.  They will lie to you- their call center operators are trained to do so. If you want to know what your rights are, read the letter of the law or consult a lawyer.

Here’s what the California State Utility Code says:

Code 328.2(b) states: “No customer should have to pay separate fees for utilizing services that protect public or customer safety.”

Code 453. (b)  states: “No public utility shall prejudice, disadvantage, or require different rates or deposit amounts from a person because of medical condition

So, we’ve established that CA utilities may not charge people more based on medical condition or to protect safety.  Being sickened by and sensitive to microwave radiation is a documented medical condition.  Microwave radiation emitted by smart meters is a Class 2B carcinogen (pdf). The fire and electrical safety risks of smart meters have been well documented.  Any fee charged to anyone who prefers an analog meter is therefore illegal.

Here’s what the US Federal Energy Act of 2005 says:

Title Xll, Subtitle E, Section 1252, (a), (14), (C) states:  “Each electric utility subject to subparagraph (A) shall provide each customer requesting a time-based rate with a time-based meter capable of enabling the utility and customer to offer and receive such rate, respectively.

It’s pretty clear at this point that smart meters are not mandatory. (Please post the legislation that makes them mandatory if you dispute this)  Despite all the lies, the fabrications, and the bluster, the truth remains that smart meters were only legislated by Congress to be offered to people, not forced upon them. We repeat. There is no mandate.  Opt out programs make the false assumption that there is some “requirement” that supersedes the contractual relationship between a utility and a property owner.  This is simply not the case. There is a difference between utility company policy and the law.   The latter always trumps the former and you can bet that the utilities seek to blur the line in the public mind, whenever and wherever possible.

Given questions about the legality of PG&E’s opt out program, we’re going to stand our ground, lock up our meters, send the utility letters of no consent, and refuse to pay any fees. If you are a lawyer, we’d like to hear from you.

Like any defiant act, there are risks.  We cannot predict how the unruly animal known as our modern utility industry will react to this–certainly the law doesn’t seem to matter much to them.  It is possible that they will attempt collection of unpaid opt out fees, or even shut off our power.  That won’t go down well in court.  And it certainly won’t go down well in the court of public opinion.  We’re stocking up on candles and hedging our bets.

When this dispute ends up in a court of law, we will be in a much stronger position for not consenting to either the smart meter installation or the opt out fees.   Make sure to document everything in writing via certified mail- we know many people who only communicate with the utility this way, to preserve a record.  If you have suffered an injury or loss from the smart grid, lodge a formal complaint.

While possible, it is hard to imagine the utility shutting off power to thousands of people or entire towns.  The public backlash from that kind of bullying would make the December shut off of twenty or so families in Santa Cruz County look like a picnic.  Using such bullying tactics could risk the monopoly over power delivery and profits that these utilities hold so dear.  There is just so much that people are willing to take before they demand change and choice.

Each of us has to make our own decision. Is it worse to have to pay thousands of dollars during your lifetime in protection racket fees? Or is it worse to risk a possible brief interruption of service during a historic showdown between thousands of ratepayers and the utility?

The moral of the story is that you should be confident in defying the utility, as part of a mass movement of ratepayers.  Utilities failed to seek adequate permission for their failing smart grid plans.  They are the ones who are desperately trying to make you believe you have no rights.  They are the ones who are attempting to bluff their way through a debacle of their own making.

It’s time we called their bluff.

Sign the petition to demand an end to opt out fees

Sign the petition promising to refuse to pay

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted in California, Citizen rebellion, Electro-Hyper-Sensitivity, Federal Energy Act of 2005, legal issues, neighborhood organizing, PG&E. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to We Are Not ‘Opting Out’………….We Are Refusing to Opt In.

  1. Dennis Goldstein says:

    Thank you for the informative information!
    In around 2005 Edison installed a digital meter on my house. It was not
    a smart meter but it had a signal since the meter reader could read the meter from the street. I didn’t know about emf fields being generated from these meters. I frequently had severe headaches and rashes and I couldn’t explain it. Along comes the smart meter and I started educating myself. The first day it was installed I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. I called Edison, and CPU and they wouldn’t remove the smart meter and install a analog. I bought my own analog meter and installed it myself. Edison called me up with bulling tactics and said I had better remove the analog meter and install a smart meter. I told then I would not they could shut my power off they gave me a dead line, I didn’t here from them. Then they called and said they would install there own analog. Now I have an analog meter. With all the electric pollution going on from cell phones, and our computers, we need to be able to rest our bodies and rejuvenate at night when we sleep. If we don’t we die faster.

    • alicia p says:

      Dennis,
      A Smart Meter was installed at my home when I didn’t know better. I didn’t realize I had a say in it. When I found out later, I called FPL and told them to remove it and that I wanted my analog meter back. They refused, saying that analog meters aren’t being made anymore and that I didn’t have an option. Those with health concerns would not benefit like the rest of those accepting the smart meters. That until they could determine or come up with a solution for those with the health concerns, like opt out, they would inform us. They would give me a temporary trasmit digital meter that doesn’t have a two -way radio like the smart meters, with a window where the digits still can be read and I didn’t trust them so just told them I would get back with them. I called Jerry Day who instructed me what to do. To order a legal notice in advance from his website to order FPL they have 21 or 30 days, whatever days I choose to remove the smart meter and put back an analog. but I don’t trust them. They could return and install the one way transmit digital meter with a hidden switch inside they control and still send radiation into my home. How would I know if they are giving me the right kind of meter? I think would look too much like the smart meter. I would need an electrician standing there to check for me before they install to be sure it is the right kind of digital analog meter I should get without the hidden switch. I don’t know what to do. Am not even sure if Jerry’s offer is an honest one. What if his offer of his safe meter is the same thing as what the FPL company wants to temporarily give me. And notice, they said temporarily. Intimidation tactic? I read their disclaimer on their website. Convoluted.

    • Karyn says:

      Dennis…. EXACTLY what you say….100 percent TRUTH.. I had 2 Smart Meters for 2 years and now have our two analogs back on and HAVE BEEN in RECOVERY from our ADVERSE HEALTH Symptoms since then. BRAVO for doing it EXACTLY right to PROTECT yourself and those who you LOVE..as well as STANDING UP and being your OWN ADVOCATE..which not everyone (some are rendered ill as well as POWERLESS~right where the electric company NEEDS you to be) has the luxury of doing so (AND is that not CRAZY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! )

  2. Redi Kilowatt says:

    Thank you Josh ! That was beautiful.
    I am one of those “refusenicks” that PG&E hates the most.
    I simply refused the new SmartMeters as soon as I heard about the program.
    I live in southern Marin, on a street where there is a 37 percent refusal rate of the new meters. Most of the people already made up their mind before I started my campaign against the new meters.
    Even my neighbor who is a retired electrical engineer and broadcast engineer refused the new meters, and this guy is straight as an arrow, not some hippy.
    Around here, we did not have to put up much effort to stop Wellington from “doing their do”, I’m sure that Wellington Energy was told to be careful up in these hills.
    I think that because I initially refused the new electric meter, that is all that I probably ever needed to do. But , I admit, I caved to the extortion fee.
    What you say is true, if people allow the new meters to be installed, unless you pay to have them removed, it will cost you a heap of dough down the road.
    To people across the country who have not yet had a new meter installed, take Joshua’s advice and FIGHT THE POWER ! That is by far your best defense.
    Who knows, maybe after some serious legal wrangling, the utility corporations will have to refund all the money that they charged all the ratepayers to pay for the program (fat chance in hell). Or, maybe at least the utilities will have to refund the extortion fees that were imposed on those of us to retain our analog meters, and those of you who had to pay to have the SmartMeters removed and recycled back to China.
    I feel very fortunate to live in area where there are intelligent people who stand together and fight, but most of the country is not so good.
    There are many in the bible belt and everywhere that think that the utility corporations are a god, a good god that would never do anyone any harm. These people have been totally brainwashed. Thank goodness that I am non religious.
    But that does not mean that I am not spiritual, I just don’t believe that there is some big fat white man with a PG&E badge in the sky. We don’t need no stinkin badges ’round heah !

  3. Ron says:

    I want to send a certified letter to the same person at PG$E who crafted the certified letter we received outlining our “choices”. That was Helen Burt, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer. But I lost the envelope her letter came in, and there is no return address in any of the enclosed material. Does anyone have the return address from the envelope they received?

  4. Lillian says:

    You are crazy!! I have had a smart meter for years in progressive Wyoming and always thought California retarded for still using the old – have-a-fellow-visit-your-home type!! You are making a mountain out of a molehill…

  5. Lillian says:

    I see my comment is “awaiting moderation” which means that since I don’t agree with you, it will be “screened” That shows your true colors.

  6. Sheros says:

    Obviously not progressive enough to realize that term is politically and morally incorrect.

    I hope you are never caused any harm by these so called ‘Smart Meters’. Unfortunately where there is smoke there is generally fire and there is just too many unanswered health questions associated with them.

    We enjoy our ‘fellow coming to visit’ and found out just yesterday that he refused the new meter too.

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  8. Strawjam says:

    I called PG &E and re-opted out. In talking to them, PG & E is now saying that they will come and check the existing analog meter for accuracy. If they find it is inaccurate they will replace it. My question is: Is this new replacement meter safe, health wise (EMF)?

    • Redi Kilowatt says:

      Strawjam,
      I think PG&E is playing with you, they might send someone out to look at your meter and then put a plastic seal on the ring that says “Opt Out”. That is how they (PG&E) justifies the $75 fee, for a little plastic card made in China.
      If PG&E actually did have to bring out test equipment and fully test your meter, you can bet your bottom dollar that it would cost much more than $75, it would be more like a $500 charge. But I have never heard of PG&E doing that kind of test and charging for it. I have seen them do such a test on customers that they suspect of diverting power or removing their meter periodically and plugging it in upside down to make it run in reverse for 2 weeks out of the month if they happen to use a lot of electricity, but that is very rare now.
      A SmartMeter cannot detect power diversions, but also it won’t run in reverse if plugged in upside down, that is the big claim by the utilities about detecting theft. That is a joke, because most thefts now are from people hacking into the power lines coming into the meter and diverting it away from the meter.

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  11. Laura says:

    I called and refused to opt-in to this smart meter fiasco as well. They kept sending technicians out to my house. I kept calling them telling them to stop. Finally I got a supervisor who said she will put me on the “opt-out” list but that it will cost an initial fee of $75 and my bill will go up $10/mo. I said “nooooooo, I don’t think so. you can’t charge me for something that i’m NOT getting. you’re trying to make me pay $75 for you to just go away and leave me alone. you’re basically trying to financially bully me into accepting the meter. nope – not gonna’ happen”. She transferred me to another supervisor that said that this fee was approved by the CPUC and that it would be on my next bill. Instead of arguing with her I just hung up and jumped online to see what i can legally do about it. I’m so glad I discovered this website!

    My plan now is to send them a certified letter stating my position and my decision to not pay their ridiculous $75 fee. But I want to be sure that my letter gets to the right person. Should I send it to that Helen Burt person that previous poster Ron mentioned? Is there anything else I should do aside from sending the letter? Any help you guys can throw my way would be great. Thank you!

  12. Laura Roland says:

    Help!!!! I called SCE and told them I was opting out a couple of weeks ago. I put the sign on my meter as suggested here. I even sent a letter to them saying I didn’t want the meter. I came home today and they had changed my meter!! I’m so angry I could scream. How do I get them to change it back? Has this happened to anyone else? Any advice as to what I should do now? Thank you!

    • Paul H says:

      First I would place heavy duty aluminum foil on the wall behind the meter. Next power off all unneeded power breakers as the smart meter uses them as a highway for it’s radiation. A cheap battery operated AM radio will show you which wiring is carrying high frequency. Just turn the dial to the lowest setting and use it like a detector. It will produce a loud hum when close. Here is a video explaining more in detail.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAgNHirQhxc&feature=youtube_gdata_player
      Make sure to document all irregular health affects. When calling the power company I would be the squeakiest wheel looking for some grease.

    • Paul H says:

      Also,You may want to consult with your doctor to see if melatonin is safe for you. Microwave radiation depletes the body of it and studies have showed that it reduces the oxidative stress induced by radiation in rat brains.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/18827438/

  13. Albert R. Schara says:

    I live in a rural desert area(Landers, Ca.). Yesterday, 3 men climbed over the fence and onto my fenced and locked gate property. Their pick up truck had a SCE (Southern California Edison) sign on the door. I called the San Bernadino Sheriff and by the time they showed up, the 3 guys had left. I received a registered letter from SCE saying I had till the 24th of this month to opt out. I do not want a smart meter on my property. What can I do?

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