In California, the second phase of the smart meter ‘opt out’ proceeding took place at the California Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco on May 16th, overseen by Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Amy Yip Kikugawa. This is the same judge who nearly cleared the room after we asked questions about the peak pulse of radiation from smart meters on September 15th of last year. After Sue Brinchman of the San Diego based Center for Electrosmog Prevention posted the transcript of the recent public proceeding on her website, the CPUC wrote to her by e-mail and asked her to remove it- that the transcript was not allowed to be posted online:
“…it has come to our attention that you have posted transcripts on your web site. Please do not post any transcripts on your web site or any web site.”
Why would the CPUC want to suppress the transcript of a public, judicial proceeding paid for by the taxpayer and critical to the outcome of how the smart meter ‘opt out’ is paid for, who pays, and how it is structured?
Well it’s pretty clear from reading the transcript why they don’t want the public to know what’s going on in these proceedings. Again and again, parties in the proceeding raise the health issue (more than 14 times according to our count) and each time Judge Amy dismisses it. It’s fairly obvious she has her marching orders; she has shown herself to be a reliable ally of corporate stooge and president of the Commission Michael Peevey.
Imagine (just for arguments sake) that someone ends up in court after murdering someone. The district attorney and a long string of witnesses all tell the judge that the perpetrator must be charged with murder and a trial must be held. The evidence is strong and compelling, and each witness can testify to the crime from different angles. Yet the judge refuses to acknowledge the evidence, insisting on reviewing the perpetrator’s parking tickets, and telling the DA and the crowd of witnesses that they should seek a separate trial for the murder case.
“But we have, your honor!” they exclaim. “No one else has agreed to hear the case- we’ve been turned back every time.” The Judge nods, and proceeds to discuss the “critical” issue of how much the accused will have to pay for illegally parking his gold Mercedes while he committed the murder.
The analogy is not exact, but the level of corruption, injustice, and betrayal of public service is even worse in this case. PG&E and the other utilities are responsible for a quiet public health catastrophe, and the CPUC- fuelled by our tax dollars- is looking the other way, betraying their responsibility to protect public health and safety . Fines that sound large to the public are levied for violations that led to the San Bruno explosion, but these amounts pale in comparison to the huge profits energy companies are making off our backs. Executives who place profit over people’s lives one day are on to their next position making millions the next.
These psychopathic individuals should be criminally prosecuted and sent to jail for a long time. That’s the only thing that might make future execs think twice before gambling with public health and safety. Instead, ordinary people taking peaceful action to defend themselves against microwave violence end up in jail.
The Orwellian doublethink evident in this proceeding would be comical if it wasn’t so tragic. When you see the system so broken that it won’t even admit to a blatant crime in progress, the public is left no other option than to take matters into their own hands.
Any opt out program that ignores its own raison d’etre is destined to be discriminatory, illegal and ineffective.
Above is the video of the proceeding courtesy of EON. Below are edited sections of the transcript from this proceeding. In defiance of the CPUC’s attempt to quash public access to this document, we have posted the full version here in the public interest.
Thank you to the brave, eloquent intervenors in this case. We admire their patience and keen sense of justice. May the people prevail against the technocratic smart grid. As Steve Martinot says, “people are more important than technology.”
We’re not so sure that the system agrees.
Second Phase Opt Out Proceeding CPUC– Excerpts from Transcript
DAVID WILNER: Once again, we are thankful that the Commission has approved a SmartMeter opt-out option for utility customers in California. However…it’s important to note that the Commission (has) a duty to determine whether SmartMeters are actually safe. And we do not believe that under any circumstances customers should be required to pay any cost for opting out of the SmartMeter program. The second phase to this proceeding should focus on that very important issue. There is no question that some people become ill when a SmartMeter is installed on their home….. We also believe there must be hearings rather than a workshop in this proceeding or possibly both so parties can present their evidence and cross-examine evidence presented by others.
MARTIN HOMEC: …the Public Utilities Commission doesn’t consider the health and safety aspects of the SmartMeter wireless emissions…And so we would like a review of the state and federal laws that are the reason, the rationale for the Public Utilities Commission not to consider the health issues because we believe the state and federal laws do give the Public Utilities Commission the authority to oversee this.
JUDGE YIP-KIKUGAWA: Sorry. As you discuss…expanding the scope of this proceeding, this proceeding really is… about opt-out, an opt-out option. The issues concerning health, the issues concerning review of deployment, why should we be expanding it in this proceeding and why should it not be the subject of a separate proceeding?
MARTIN HOMEC: Because people are suffering right now, as Mr. Wilner mentioned. There are people who have anxiety attacks, who are feeling nauseous or some other ill effects which they attribute to SmartMeters. And if they are wrong, then perhaps there’s something else. But if there’s a health impact, the Commission should…for the public good investigate it so that people can be at rest as to what they believe is affecting them so they can be treated if they have some other ill effects. Or if the SmartMeter is causing the illness, we will know it immediately instead of delaying this…… So it’s been six years and nothing has happened. Nobody has evaluated the wireless emissions health impacts.
JUDGE YIP-KIKUGAWA: ….Anecdotal, the anecdotes of what’s occurring, you can’t say that they’re not occurring. I can’t say that they are occurring. But is it the SmartMeter, is it as you said cell phones or what is the cause? And that is where my concern is, is that we are trying to shoe-horn an issue into this proceeding and I don’t think it’s appropriate to do that.
SANDI MAURER, EMF SAFETY NETWORK: Thank you…There have been studies, and these studies do show that people have EHS, and that’s very valid. So I don’t think we need more studies at this point. We have studies. We need an opportunity to be heard on the studies that are already there. And we did include that request for …health hearings on health impacts from SmartMeters. We are also asking for hearings on safety impacts, including impacts of smart meters that have caused burned out appliances, that have exploded and have caused fires, because this is an issue that the utilities have denied, and this Commission has never taken it up. The EMF Safety Network had a filing. It was dismissed in December of 2010. We are waiting for our rehearing request to be acted upon. So I think that considering the amount of people that are suffering from the smart meters and the amount of backlash this Commission has seen, that it would be prudent to take the time now to open this discussion up… The basic reason — there has been no stated reason that this opt-out proceeding was initiated. The only reason stated is that any customers for any reason can opt out; if they didn’t want one, they didn’t have to have one. But there was never a stated reason…Is an opt-out provision an appropriate substitute for having the Commission exercise its statutorily presented responsibilities and authority to make the decisions about health and safety. And I want to give that to you because I think it’s a really important question.
STEVE MARTINOT: Thank you. Prior to my statement about how I think this proceeding should be — the scope should be expanded, let me simply mention that the Application that I mentioned earlier does call for hearings on the health issue throughout California as provided by law.
MARY BETH BRANGAN, EON: …the reason that I’m concerned is the wireless mesh network, in addition to the individual meter. So this is why it’s so necessary for us to expand the scope here, because it’s not an issue of a single home.
And the ramifications, the implications of this technology and this planned system infrastructure all have impacts. So if you as an individual opt out, you are you’re still impacted by the infrastructure next to your house, by all your neighbors, by the infiltration into the wiring that this pulsed radiation emits. It is a total picture that we have to look at. And that’s why it’s so necessary for us to expand the hearing to include why people are suffering.
JAMES WEIL: There seems to me to be a live issue of whether or not charging customers for opt-out is legal considering that opt-out decisions can be driven for medical reasons. I’m not a lawyer. It is hard for me to vet all of that. But I do see a very clear connection between medical conditions and the possibility of discrimination when it’s pretty clear to me at least that the customers who are choosing to opt out are doing so based on medical grounds. The Commission seems to be hiding its head in the sand about some of that stuff, but I do hope the Commission will entertain the issue of discrimination associated with medical conditions…….. When I think about participant costs and whether or not the Commission should be allocating costs to only participants or to the ratepayers as a whole, I keep coming back to the notion that participant costs include pain. They include the medical costs that they might incur. They include personal discomfort. For those reasons I think the Commission should keep its eyes and ears open to the possibility of considering health impacts as part of the universe of customer costs.
DAVID WILNER: The smart meters are attached to our homes. They are attached to the wiring in our homes. And they are a permanent fixture. And clearly they are harmful to some people. Cell phones, computers and other devices are optional. If you are concerned about your cell phone being dangerous, get rid of it. If you are concerned about your computer or something else that’s in question, again, you can dispose of it. But you can’t dispose of your electricity. You can’t dispose of your electric meter.
I’m very troubled that the Commission would consider throwing out our complaint on the grounds that —
ALJ YIP-KIKUGAWA: Mr. Wilner, concerning your complaint, that is really outside the scope of this proceeding. I don’t know where you are on that, if that is something that is a proposed Decision that’s been issued or if you are at a point where you can actually appeal the proposed Decision. And that is where you should be making your arguments, not here.
JEROMY JOHNSON: Your Honor, I guess I want to respond to your question about whether the scope of this should relate to health effects……. I just want to say that that’s why many of us are here. The health issue is probably the most important thing. Going forward I think it will be the most important thing.
DAVID BRAWNER: My wife and I own several multifamily dwellings in Marin County where all the electrical and gas meters are in every case located on one wall of the building near living spaces. In one case there are nine electrical meters attached to one wall.
Many of us may remember when it was possible to go into a restaurant and be greeted by a host or hostess who asked smoking or nonsmoking. If you chose nonsmoking, the result was often not good because you are exposed to secondhand smoke anyway. There are smokers close by and the effect of the nonsmoking section was basically negated.
Similarly, if one person in an apartment complex chooses a smart meter when the majority choose analog, everyone is exposed to the mesh network of pulse radiation, just as we are exposed to secondhand smoke in a nonsmoking section.
Therefore, we’re asking that multi family dwellings be classified as communities and accorded the right to choose to be smart meter free. We would like our buildings to provide living accommodations that are safe and free of the mesh network of pulse radiation emitted by smart meters. I feel like it’s a disclosure issue in a way just like lead free paint disclosures and mold disclosures. I feel I need to inform my tenants that this is something that is hazardous to their health.
JIM TOBIN: ….. when you hear local government officials testify here, they will tell you that one of the things they are responding to is health concerns of their citizens.
—At this point, Marcel Hawiger with The Utility Reform Network (TURN) indicates in a roundabout way that he does not want costs associated with the opt out program added to everyone’s bills- presumably TURN wants those suffering from medical problems with the smart meter to bear the cost of the opt out—-
SANDI MAURER: Some additional thoughts, your Honor. It almost seems like this proceeding is putting the cart before the horse because we’re talking about an opt-out and the communities may be even having to pay for an opt-out. But the Commission has never made a determination on the problems that are occurring– and why the communities are having a problem with the opt-out. Do you see what I’m saying? The Commission has never investigated the problems with SmartMeters. They’ve never made a determination on the safety of the SmartMeters. So they are not addressing the main reason that these communities and individual want to opt-out. So that gives more weight of adding that as a point of view to give more weight to the inclusion of the problems with SmartMeters as part of the scope of this proceeding. Otherwise, we’re putting an opt-out for communities but you’re not saying why.
The Commission is not determining the reason. You’re saying for any reason, but then you have to pay. That’s another penalty for a community because they’re not participating. But the Commission is not saying why these communities are not participating. And I believe that all communities should have the right to understand why a community opt-out would even be proposed. There are communities that are not informed. They don’t know what happens in this proceeding. They should have a right to be informed, not just those counties and cities that already have been informed by their citizenry.
STEVE MARTINOT: With respect to the aggregate staying within FCC guidelines, as Mr. Wilner has pointed out, it doesn’t, and with respect to the cumulative effect of these meters on individuals under the principle that people really are more important than technology.
MR. WARNER, PG&E: We need to make a showing of incremental costs. We need to provide a reasonable estimate. We do look forward to working with some of the intervenors who really do focus on (cost) issues like TURN, DRA, Mr. Weil.
JUDGE YIP-KIKUGAWA: Okay. Then the last question that I have is does anyone see the need for public participation hearings? And if so, how many and where? Any thoughts? Mr. Martinot.
MR. MARTINOT: I assume by public participation you mean testimony about, for instance, health effects?
JUDGE YIP-KIKUGAWA: No. We are talking about setting up a time where the public would be able to come in and speak before me and possibly Commissioner Peevey.
JUDGE YIP-KIKUGAWA: Otherwise, I think I would like to move over into the schedule. And I think that may address some of the issues of how we attack the two big issues identified. (ed: cost and community wide opt out NOT health) And if there are other issues that are ultimately determined to be within the scope of this proceeding, we can put those in.