Judge Rules Electric Utility’s Smart Meter Opt Out Fees Violate State Law; PSREC Refuses to Reconnect

IMG_0802PLUMAS-SIERRA RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE ACTED ILLEGALLY WHEN IT CUT OFF ELECTRICITY TO HART FAMILY

QUINCY, CA — A utility cooperative in rural Northern California has been ordered by Plumas County Superior Court Judge Janet Hilde to:

 “…cancel the opt out fee and monthly fee for reading the analog meter, allowing Plaintiff (StopSmartMeters.org Director Josh Hart) to self-read the analog meter.”

The decision last week comes 14 months after Plumas Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC) cut the electric wires to the Hart household in February 2014 though the family have paid for their full electric usage minus the illegal “opt out” fees.  During that time, they have been living without electricity in an all-electric home in the Sierra Nevada mountains, without either a fridge or hot running water, depending on a wood stove for heat, cooking, and heating water. The family is continuing to hold out and have refused to sign PSREC’s proposed agreement that would have traded Mr. Hart’s silence about the dispute over the utility’s hazardous smart meters for restoration of electricity service.  “We refuse to be extorted, coerced, or silenced,” says Plaintiff and veteran anti-smart meter organizer Josh Hart.  “It’s about time PSREC is held to account for its flagrant violations of disability rights.  The court’s decision has vindicated our standing up to the utility and confirmed that PSREC is indeed violating the law. They must obey the law and reconnect services.”

Bob Marshall

Bob Marshall, General Mgr. of PSREC

In the small claims court case brought by Mr. Hart in March, Judge Hilde found that PSREC and its General Manager Bob Marshall violated state discrimination law.  The fees: $141 to start and $15/ month to use an analog meter, were found to be illegal under CA law as the utility levied a fee for what they knew was a simple accommodation of a physician-confirmed functional impairment, or disability — the removal of RF emitting equipment from the premises.

Judge Hilde’s decision states:

“Plaintiff presented the court with a letter from his physician, stating that he has a condition, Electromagnetic Field Hypersensitivity, which causes him to suffer from headaches and other medical symptoms when exposed to radio frequency from smart meters. Plaintiff also provided the court with copy of the California Public Utility Code section 453(b) which provides in part: ‘No public utility shall prejudice, disadvantage, or require different rates or deposit amounts from a person because of ancestry, medical condition, marital status, or change in marital status, occupation, or any characteristic listed or defined in section 11135 of the Government Code’”

Though Judge Hilde has now ruled that the fees are illegal, and ordered PSREC to offer a self-read based electric service, General Manager Bob Marshall refuses to comply with the judge’s order, and is refusing to restore electricity to the home.  Marshall and the PSREC Board of Directors say they plan to appeal the case. Hart asks, “Is it really in the public interest to spend ratepayer money on expensive attorneys to continue to refuse paying customers, unreasonably deny service, and defend illegal and discriminatory behavior?”  

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Josh Hart demonstrates outside PSREC HQ in September after he was barred entry from the annual member meeting

When Mr. Hart attempted to attend the annual meeting of the cooperative and vote in the election for directors in September, PSREC officials threatened him with arrest for “trespassing,” even though Mr. Hart was at the time a member and received an invitation to the event. “PSREC is retaliating against us for speaking the truth about their hazardous metering systems.  Their continued refusal to reconnect our home, even in the face of community pressure and a judge’s order is petty and vindictive, and is only driving more attention to an issue they’d probably prefer to sweep under the rug.”

This is not the first time that local courts have sided with smart meter radiation poisoning victims.  In 2012, a small claims judge in Santa Ana ruled that So Cal Edison replace an analog meter on the home of a woman who was made sick by the new wireless “smart” meter (see download below).  A woman in Santa Cruz County settled out of court with PG&E after she brought a small claims case for reimbursement for thousands of dollars spent to shield her apartment against radiation that was causing tinnitus and other health problems.

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Smart meters in Stockton, CA blew apart after a surge hit the city. No analogs were reported to have behaved similarly

This legal victory for the Harts and the broader Stop Smart Meters! movement contributes to the ongoing erosion of the legitimacy of smart meter “opt out fees” nationally. Earlier this week, the Arizona Corporation Commission voted to suspend such fees statewide, while legislation in the state of Vermont already prohibits such fees.  “The fires, the health problems, and the recent simultaneous explosion of hundreds of smart meters in Stockton point to the fact that we should be abandoning the entire ill-conceived system — not just be dropping the fees. Charging for the use of safe and secure analog meters, and disconnecting paying customers is a violation of the law and community moral standards,” stated Hart.

PSREC has filed an appeal and we are now awaiting a new trial in Superior Court.

We are seeking to raise $10,000 to hire an attorney and compel the utility industry to comply with the law.  Contributions to the legal effort (as well as solar panels and other off-grid equipment) are being gratefully accepted at StopSmartMeters.org/donate

More information about filing your own small claims case– NOLO Guide

KQNY Interview with Josh Hart Oct. 14th, 2014  (Aired but only posted online today):

Links to a timeline and full SSM! coverage of PSREC’s violations

Download Text of Judge’s Decision:

HartDecisionCover

HartDecision1

HartDecision2

HartDecision3

Download Hart’s pre-trial Demand Letter to PSREC:

PSREC DEMAND LETTER

Download 2012 Kyle- SCE Case:

Santa Ana SCE Judgment

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This entry was posted in California, Citizen rebellion, Class Issues and Social Equality, Electro-Hyper-Sensitivity, Fundraising, health effects, legal issues, Physicians, Plumas County, Police, PSREC, radio-frequency radiation, Smart Grid. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Judge Rules Electric Utility’s Smart Meter Opt Out Fees Violate State Law; PSREC Refuses to Reconnect

  1. Terri Keller says:

    Way to go, Harts!! That is a major, major victory. 🙂 It will pave the way for future victories as well. It can’t be avoided. WE are in the right, and WE will prevail. I think the other side knows this, but will fight it to the bitter end, or until the obviousness just becomes too painfully embarrassing.

    On my way to donate now, and I encourage everyone else to do so! Thanks again, Harts – without you, we wouldn’t have made the kind of progress we see around the world today!!

  2. Sonia R. says:

    Congratulations, Josh! The truth always comes out eventually, but only when people like you make the sacrifices on behalf of everyone else. That PSREC wants to pursue an appeal speaks volumes to the huge vested interest of utilities to block citizens from protecting their health and keeping the government/corporate alliance and their corrupt practices in place. If the appeal is successful, it will confirm the corruption that is already beginning to come to public attention with investigations into the activities of a number of public service commissions and utilities in various states.

  3. James A. Brown Jr. says:

    Yes, Way To Go!!! It’s Time We Stood Up and Make Claim To Our Rights…

  4. Bravo Josh and thank you for standing up for all of us!

  5. Eric says:

    Josh, I’m sorry for what you have had to go through but I can say that you a true hero in this world. Supporting you over here in Australia where we have been going through our own hell in the state of Victoria.

  6. veronica says:

    Keep up the good work Josh. Your sacrifices will benefit everyone who is suffering from EHS or who simply understands the risks inherent in being exposed to nonionizing microwave radiation day and night. In Indiana we are still stuck with the meters. Not enought local people to stand up to the regulatory commission or the utility. Your fight is everyones fight. Thank you to you and your family for sticking with this and for all tht you have done and continue to do. So many are suffering and are unable to mount a fight.

  7. Tanya says:

    Josh, thank you so much for remaining firm on this issue, despite huge inconvenience and cost to you and your family. So many people in Australia caved in to the bluffs of installers and power companies only to now see that they were lied to and are now worse off. Those who didn’t cave in are rejoicing.

  8. paving the way!! Electrosensitive Liberty says:

    ~ congratulations to the Harts and supporters through thick and thin –
    paving the way for plenty of others to follow ! ~ to the Winds across
    all worlds.

    next 13 days (a 13-day cycle called trecena in galactic mayan cosmology) are good to put your dreams in fruition and receive
    good help from our Eagle Friends, in human form and up above. respectfully.

    http://www.mayanmajix.com

    SSM and beyond!

  9. John Ali says:

    Where statas of out come of utility appeal ?

  10. Kenna says:

    Do you have advice for others to keep things out of court? They are starting our “upgrade” in 2017. We have an “opt-out” program which literally would double our electric bill. I started the conversation with the electric company and I am awaiting a response. Also, I contacted our town mayor and county commissioner who actually agreed with me that pushing ‘smart’ meters on people is illegal, but no one is enforcing this. I am now in conversations with our Public Utilities Commission. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

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