“Tell her to not manipulate her age and fragility to get her way”

Marzia Zafar, CPUC's Head of Policy and Planning

Marzia Zafar, CPUC’s Director of Policy and Planning: the Grand High Grinch.

While reading through backchannel e-mails, it seems that again and again there is one particular individual at the CPUC who pushes the utilities to be even more mean, hard, and cruel than they already are. (and that is a feat indeed!)

That person is Marzia Zafar, current Director of the Policy and Planning Division at the CPUC- a veteran of the utility industry and of the revolving door system of corruption at state and federal agencies, now in a position of power to make people’s lives hell.  And she has apparently not wasted one opportunity.

The CPUC claims that it “serves the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure at reasonable rates.  Yet internal e-mails show betrayal of the public interest, and state-sponsored tolerance, even sponsorship, of elder abuse .

Exhibit 1: this little jewel we just unearthed from the bowels of the CPUC’s internal e-mail database. After PG&E disconnected a 75 year old woman and others in Santa Cruz County, CA at Christmas time in 2011 for removing the smart meters that were making them sick, Zafar suggests that the woman is “manipulating her age and fragility to get her way” after she requests her power is restored as she has paid her full usage.

What an astoundingly callous, twisted, and backward worldview. 

The abuser blaming the victim.

After a huge public backlash, this senior living alone and others who had removed their smart meters had their power reconnected, but not after serious inconvenience, as well as the physical and emotional toll of having their food go bad at Christmastime not to mention the utility forcing an unwanted microwave meter on their home that made them sick.   And PG&E is still threatening elderly people with disconnect, as of last week.

Sidney Dietz of PG&E to Zafar:

“Sorry to bug you on vacation, but I need your advice.

Did you hear about this one? She’s one of the ones we cut off for changing her meter, and she refuses to go for the digital non-communicating meter. She’s 75 years old. We are getting pressure from politicians on this. One of our (customer service representatives) told her we’d put in an analog (!!!). Anyway, should we hold the line and leave her cut off or what? Are you getting pressure on this? I am afraid that if you (tell) us to give her an analog, there will be more of these. On the other hand, if we are sure that the final solution is analog, we may as well start giving them out in these cases. Any guidance would be appreciated.

This case, as you know, sux rox.”

Source document

Marzia Zafar, who is relaxing on the beach on the taxpayer dime as 75 year old seniors are struggling to heat and light their homes, responds by smartphone:

“Hi, No worries at all. I am not doing anything, just laying on the beach and reading about the mighty Clippers.

Hey – if it were up to me I would say tell her to not manipulate her age and fragility to get her way, but this is PG&E’s decision. You guys can’t eliminate risk by getting us involved all the time, sorry ;-)  “

Source document

grinch-by-web-mitdotedu1This person- Marzia Zafar- is still being paid by our tax dollars to work against us.

Shame on the CPUC.  Shame on Governor Brown.  It’s time to clean house, and Brown can start with this mean old Grinch who works against the public interest.

Demand Marzia Zafar’s Termination NOW

And yes Sidney, your company’s treatment of senior citizens sux rox!

If you’d like to share your thoughts or concerns with Ms. Zafar , you can reach her at her publicly funded e-mail account at the CPUC:  zaf@cpuc.ca.gov  or perhaps you would prefer to telephone her at her publicly funded, publicly available phone:

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Posted in California, Changing a Meter, Citizen rebellion, CPUC, Democracy, PG&E, Santa Cruz County, Smart Grid | 4 Comments

PG&E and CPUC Colluded to Hide Smart Meter Overcharging & Financial Ties to Firm Who Wrote Report on “Accuracy”

SMARTrhino100EMF Safety Network has reported on new e-mails that have been discovered between the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) regarding the study that was conducted by the Structure Group in 2010 purporting to prove the accuracy of smart meters.   The study was used to reassure thousands of Californians that their new smart meter and new, inflated bills, were accurate, and not overcharging them.   Backroom, “off the record” conversations between the utility and the regulator now reveal serious accuracy problems with smart meters linked toSMARTtower1001 temperature, an awareness of financial ties between PG&E and Structure, and a collusion to cover up those ties in order to falsely reassure the public that the study was independent and smart meters were not overcharging. (neither which were true).

Further throwing the results of Structure’s report into doubt, and making the whole endeavor seem like a pre-arranged stitch up, former CPUC President Peevey- who had personal experience of smart meters overcharging at his luxurious Sea Ranch compound, reassured PG&E that the results of the Structure Report would please them, even while Structure Group was still in the process of testing meters. 

This is yet another major scandal for PG&E and the CPUC.  The Structure report was held up as the final word that smart meters were accurate, and the report has been used in other states, and around the world to convince people to trust the accuracy of their smart meters.   But according to EMFSN’s report, major accuracy issues were swept under the carpet, leading to the likely reality that millions of customers in California and beyond continue to be routinely overcharged for their electricity usage, while the consumer protection agency paid for by public monies, continues to work with big utility companies to undermine fairness, transparency, safety, and health.

How much more will you take, California?

Read the full story here.   Wicked illustrations courtesy Brian Narelle.

Posted in California, CPUC, Democracy | Leave a comment

PG&E Threatening 84-Year-Old Santa Cruz Woman with Disconnect if She Fails to Pay Protection Racket Fee

http://emfsafetynetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/SMARTcutoff100.jpg

PG&E and other investor owned utilities (IOU’s) in California have been playing a cat and mouse game of threatening to disconnect people for refusing to pay coercive opt out fees, and then backing off at the last moment- in many cases repeatedly.  As far as we are aware, none of the thousands of people refusing to pay “opt out” fees to SCE, PG&E, or SDG&E have been disconnected (apart from some customers of renegade municipals and “cooperatives” including yours truly). The California IOU’s undoubtedly face a serious, renewed backlash if they attempt to initiate disconnects for those declining to pay “opt out” fees– and they know it.

Based on communications received from people around the state, it is evident that utilities are threatening and coercing people on a systemic level.  They are deceiving people about the (ready) availability of analog meters, and delaying smart meter removals for weeks, sometimes substituting smart meters that appear to be analogs- so called “trojan horse meters” while still charging people a fee.   These practices are not only eroding (what shreds remain of) the utility’s credibility, they are creating stress for some of our state’s most vulnerable residents. Thanks to Brian Narelle for the above illustration and the EMF Safety Network  for the following originally posted March 10:

Santa Cruz, CA- Utility giant PG&E is threatening to turn off the power to Lois Robin, an 84 year old woman from Santa Cruz because she’s refusing to pay “opt-out” fees for keeping an analog meter.

Lois MayaPG&E sent Lois a 15 day shut off notice in February, stating she owed $115. On Friday she received a message they will cut off her power on Tuesday if she doesn’t pay.  So far her power remains on.

Lois writes, “I have always paid all my bills, except the opt-out fees. I insisted on keeping my old meter. They did not give me a new one. I have been on record all along as refusing a smart meter.  I am 84 years old, with rapidly deteriorating vision. I would not want them to disconnect me as I get along poorly without light. Yet, I would rather they turned me off than pay their extractive fees.”

PG&E claims they have legal authority granted by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to collect the fees.  Emails between PG&E and the CPUC recently made public expose collusion, cover-up, multiple exparte violations and the broken regulatory process by which smart meter opt-out fees were concocted.  Smart meter opt-out fees were fabricated between the CPUC and PG&E long before the evidentiary hearings on costs began….

…In 2011, The County of Santa Cruz passed an ordinance banning smart meters, but PG&E deployed smart meters anyway. Lois Robin is one of many, who refuse to be coerced into paying the fees. Lois says, “This has been very stressful. PG&E doesn’t listen to you. Talking to PG&E is like talking to robots.”

More: http://emfsafetynetwork.org/pge-threatens-to-disconnect-84-yr-old-womans-power-for-refusing-smart-meter-extortion-fees/

Posted in California, Citizen rebellion, CPUC, PG&E, Santa Cruz County | 6 Comments

PG&E Suggested “Prozac” for Those Injured by Smart Meters– SCE Schemed Higher Fees to Force Smart Meters on the Poor

Peevey laughing, "I surrender!" Apparently all just a big joke...

Former CPUC President Michael Peevey secretly acknowledged that smart meters were causing health problems even as he approved extortionate ‘opt out’ fees

Josh PicBy Josh Hart, MSc

Founder and Director,   Stop Smart Meters!

New e-mails brought to light between Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) reveal the extent of corruption and backroom dealing that have characterized the state’s smart meter program.  E-mails reveal that former CPUC President Michael Peevey was aware of health problems caused by smart meters early on in the program.   Commissioners and staff experienced overcharging and electronic interference issues with smart meters on their homes.  Meanwhile, utilities schemed with regulators behind the scenes to raise opt-out fees to force people in poverty to stick with the unpopular meters and prop up the failing multi-billion dollar smart grid program in California.

Former CPUC President Michael Peevey, who retired in December and is currently the subject of a criminal probe by the U.S. Attorney and State Attorney General who are investigating allegations of bribery and corruption, assured the public that the meters were accurate, were no fire hazard, and no threat to health. A different picture has emerged from initial research into more than 65,000 e-mails and memos between CPUC and PG&E. Peevey wrote to PG&E in September of 2010 (emphasis ours):

“The press coverage was very good and helps PG&E big time, overall, as well as other companies, etc. One thought for the company: If it were my decision I would let anyone who wants to keep their old meter keep it, if they claim they suffer from EMF and/or related electronic-related illnesses… I would institute such a policy quietly and solely on an individual basis. There really are people who feel pain, etc., related to EMF,etc., and rather than have them become hysterical, etc., I would quietly leave them alone. Kick it around. And, it sounds like the company may already have taken this step, based on a couple of the comments at yesterday’s public hearing.”

Wellington Energy was one of the companies who profited handsomely from CPUC Corruption

Wellington Energy was one of the companies who profited handsomely from CPUC Corruption

Peevey says to PG&E, “if it were my decision.”  As Sandi Maurer of the EMF Safety Network has pointed out, being the Commissioner in charge of the smart meter opt out proceeding, technically it was his decision.  But that does not appear to be where the true power lies according to this e-mail exchange.  Apparently the “Company” calls the shots and Commissioners obey. The “other companies” Peevey refers to include GE, Landis & Gyr, Silver Spring Networks, Wellington Energy, Verizon, Edelman and others.

In another e-mail from 2010, Peevey’s Chief of Staff Carol Brown writes to PG&E:

“…so far I have done OK just listening to the sad tales of EMF poisoning – and telling them thank you for bringing it to our attention – and then not offering them any solution!!! I just wanted to have a resource in case!”

PG&E's Brian Cherry

PG&E’s Brian Cherry

Brian Cherry, VP of Regulatory Relations at PG&E replies:

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PG&E’s solution to health problems caused by their smart meters: Prozac

“Prozac might be a solution!”

Suggesting that people take pharmaceuticals to treat health problems caused by the company’s meters is unspeakably arrogant, dangerous, and corrupt. The only thing that has consistently helped people suffering health effects from EMF has been the removal of smart meters and other nearby wireless transmitters.  And the utilities knew it. But to officially have smart meters removed, the CPUC under Peevey, required Californians to pay an upfront fee and monthly charge starting in May 2012.

Marzia Zafar, CPUC's Head of Policy and Planning

Marzia Zafar, CPUC’s Head of Policy and Planning

In public, the utilities and CPUC have justified the $75 initially and $10/ month fees for analog meters (to have the same thing that customers have always had) by arguing that individuals should pay for the costs they create.  In private however, a different story emerges. In e-mails between California utilities and Marzia Zafar, CPUC’s current Director of Policy and Planning, a 15 year utility industry employee including 4 years as a So Cal Gas lobbyist who was involved in the Bill Devereaux Spy Scandal, Zafar tells her utility colleagues:

“I think if there is not an initial fee your estimate of 2% opt out goes out the door and you’ll have more like 20% or 50% opt out which will then make the whole project that we spent over $7 billion on a complete and total waste.”

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A Sept. 2011 demonstration outside the CPUC in San Francisco

Zafar is saying if they eliminate the initial opt out charge for analog meters, up to half of California’s electric customers may refuse smart meters, given all the publicity around safety and inaccuracy problems, and that needs to be avoided at all costs by ensuring fees remain unaffordable.  This e-mail demonstrates clearly that the opt out fee is intended not to “cover costs” but to suppress choice, prop up a failing and dangerous smart grid and penalize people for disobeying a forced, corporate and undemocratic deployment.

Making it more difficult for those in poverty to opt out seemed to be a particular priority for Southern California Edison, Peevey’s former employer. Many low-income customers live in apartment buildings where banks of smart meters expose residents to high levels of pulsed RF radiation that the World Health Organization considers a Class 2B Carcinogen.  “CARE” is a reduced utility rate program for families living below the federal poverty line. In January 2012, Michael Hoover of SCE wrote to Zafar of CPUC and Cherry of PG&E:

“We need an up front fee that is significant, or a path to achieve that. This is especially true for CARE customers. This is a big deal for us and I think the potential for significant increases in opt out is rather large if the fee is set too low.  Are we all on the same page?”

Could using financial screws to force hazardous meters on those in poverty be too toxic even for Brian Cherry, who replies:

“No”

Then Zafar, like a bully in the playground, chides Cherry for being soft:

“That’s because PG&E’s judgment is suspect…”

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In Sept. 2011, CPUC’s Marzia Zafar was angry at PG&E for removing smart meters that were making a woman sick.

In November of 2011, CPUC officials internally circulated a press release from Stop Smart Meters! that made reference to the fact that PG&E had recently replaced a smart meter with an analog on a woman’s house in Santa Cruz whose family was suffering health impacts from the new microwave-emitting meter.  Zafar rebukes PG&E and orders them to keep smart meters on homes, even after residents have demanded and given legal notice that they be removed, and even for those with physician’s letters or those suffering so badly they could no longer occupy their homes (“this blog” is StopSmartMeters.org):

“See below. Please do not replace smart meters with analog meters; I’m assuming this blog is delusional and they’re lying. The Commission will issue a (Proposed Decision) sometime this month or early next month to consider an opt-out program; until such time you have the delay list.”

Interference

Smart meters were interfering with electronic equipment at the homes of CPUC staff we now know (and the homes of many others like this woman from Marin County, CA)

Despite Zafar’s hard line stance, it turns out she knew from personal experience that there were serious problems with the meters. She wrote in January 2011 to PG&E:

“I’m also copying Cliff to this e-mail as I spoke with him this morning; he came to my house :-). I have a smart meter and a motion light interference that is hopefully now resolved.”

According to the LA Times, when a smart meter was installed on former CPUC President Michael Peevey’s 3118 sq. foot second home in Sea Ranch on the Sonoma County coast (where Peevey and PG&E’s VP of Regulatory Relations Brian Cherry shared bottles of Johnny Walker Blue Label according to e-mails) Peevey’s bills went through the roof and he complained to PG&E in November 2011:

“Please check something out for me. Just had a “smart meter” installed at Sea Ranch. And, now I have the bill for the first month. Something is screwy. The bill says we used 973 KWH versus 438 for the same time period one year ago. Yet, there was no one at the house during the most recent 30 day period.  Nor was there anyone there one year ago. Obviously something is wrong. I would like an explanation.”

SmartMeterMeltdown

SmartMeterMeltdown

Apparently Peevey wasn’t the only Commissioner who reported significant overcharging.  PG&E wrote in an e-mail that two commissioners in one night complained about inaccuracies on their  bills after smart meters were installed.

In September 2011, after a fire started in a smart metered electrical panel in a Santa Rosa Mall, Cherry wrote to CPUC Executive Director Paul Clanon.  There was not the slightest concern about whether the smart meters were actually starting fires, or whether and how the CPUC and/ or PG&E should investigate this potentially serious public safety hazard.  Instead the focus was on spinning the story in the media:

“We have also contacted several fire chiefs who are sympathetic and may comment on the most recent meter issue.”

What exactly is meant by “sympathetic” given that hundreds of thousands of smart meters have now been recalled due to fire risk and people have lost their lives?

In November 2013, PG&E was again scolded by Zafar after their call center staff advised a customer who had problems with smart meters to (gasp!) contact the CPUC.  Sidney Dietz of PG&E responds:

“We found the call, and indeed our customer-service representative (CSR) advised, in error, the customer to call the CPUC. One of the managers contacted this particular CSR and her supervisor and made sure she understands the problem, and we will be updating the script to make it absolutely clear that we should not pass the problem to the CPUC.  This same manager is one of the trainers for the CSRs (they train constantly), and will maintain an emphasis on not passing the buck. As you know, the group at PG&E that works on complaints and speaks regularly with the CPUC complaints group understand that this is not the right way to handle customers, and works to get this kind of thing correct.”

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Former CPUC President Loretta Lynch: “CPUC is a rogue agency”

The task of the California Public Utilities Commission’s Consumer Affairs Branch- according to the CPUC’s website- is to: “assist consumers in resolving disputes with their utility company.” Yet, Ms. Zafar chided PG&E for “passing the problem” when customer service representatives suggested that people with smart meter problems contact the CPUC.  These e-mails confirm what watchdog groups have been claiming for years—that the CPUC literally has become a satellite office for the investor owned utility and telecom corporations- a “rogue agency” as former CPUC President Loretta Lynch now refers to the agency she once led.

While CPUC officials privately grappled with problems caused by smart meters at their own homes, publicly they denied these problems existed despite thousands of complaints to the contrary confirming these were systemic problems. An unfair and extortionate opt out policy was approved in violation of the CA Public Utility Code, charging customers hundreds of dollars a year to protect their safety.  Thousands still refuse to pay this extortion.

Those responsible for this criminal activity should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and the California legislature needs to do its job and hold hearings to get to the bottom of these criminal relationships that have cost Californians their lives.  All redacted e-mails must immediately be made public.

Peevey and company should be put behind bars.

Given the lies, recklessness and betrayal of trust that has characterized the forced smart meter deployment, the extortionate opt out fee policy should immediately be eliminated and past fees that have been paid by ratepayers refunded with an apology. Excessive charges paid by utility customers based on inaccurate smart meter readings must likewise be refunded.   A truly independent investigation into fires, health hazards, and the calibration and accuracy of smart meters must be carried out.  Smart meters must be recalled and replaced with safe, electromechanical analog meters NOW. At the end of the day, human life is more important than protecting this corrupt power structure and the egos of PG&E and CPUC executives.

We're not overstating it.

We mean it literally.

 

Special Thanks to the following groups for ongoing collaborative research efforts that have led to the discovery of these e-mails.  There will be more to come!

EMF Safety Network, Sebastopol, CA
Center for Electrosmog Prevention, La Mesa, CA
Ecological Options Network, Bolinas, CA

Take a look at the slimy e-mails for yourself- it ain’t pretty.  Drop us a line if you find something juicy or incriminating.

Posted in California, Changing a Meter, Citizen rebellion, Class Issues and Social Equality, CPUC, Democracy, Electro-Hyper-Sensitivity, Fires, health effects | 2 Comments

“Rogue Agency” – Protesting Peevey’s (ex parte) Party

Posted in California, Citizen rebellion, CPUC, Democracy, Electro-Hyper-Sensitivity, Federal Government, health effects, legal issues, neighborhood organizing, PG&E, radio-frequency radiation, San Francisco, Smart Grid | 1 Comment