“What Do I Do Now?” Confusing Reports and Mixed Signals

[News links follow.] The short answer to the question of what you should do now, if you are a PG&E customer: If you still have your analog, we recommend that you defend that meter, and: Delay till May, Refuse to Pay.  The PG&E website says you have until May 1 to decide. Don’t give them money now–you don’t have to.  Plus, the extortionate opt out fee may not stand up to legal scrutiny and may be reversed.

If you have a smart meter you want to get rid of, you can either call PG&E now (866*743*0263), and get on their waiting list for an analog (some reports say they won’t change it till May). Or if you are able and willing, and your health is on the line, people are still having them changed on their own, and then wait till May 1 to opt out, whereupon PG&E will likely install one of their own analogs.  Jumping through hoop after irrational hoop–just to have safe, reliable utility service–is certainly growing tiresome for many.

The official story about the opt-out from PG&E is: those with an analog can keep it, if they contact PG&E by May 1, and those with a smart meter can opt out anytime, now or after May 1. Despite this, we are getting a range of reports from our contacts about what is actually happening in the field, such as:

  • PG&E is installing a digital “non-transmitting” meter for customers requesting the opt out, instead of an analog, as they are required to do by the recent ruling;
  • PG&E is saying that unless you choose by May 1 you will be forced to have a smart meter;
  • PG&E is saying that after May 1 you won’t be able to opt out of a smart meter;
  • PG&E is replacing current analogs with a different analog;
  • PG&E is placing people on a waiting list and won’t be replacing smart meters with analogs until May.

Understandably, many people who have had dealings with PG&E have become extremely wary and distrustful of this company. Their public relations has been recognized even by those in the industry as absolutely appalling. We add: Their behavior has been criminal. PG&E has used public ignorance, subterfuge, and statistical manipulation of actual radiation levels, in order to lead people into accepting a hazardous and damaging device on their homes. For others, PG&E merely placed the device on ratepayers homes without notice or information, or over customer objections, as was the case for so many people who were installed in 2009 and 2010.

Having seen what PG&E can do, we strongly recommend you take care in your dealings with them.  Take as much time as you need to consider your options, and if possible get their statements or assertions in writing, such as your right to opt out after the May 1st “deadline.”  We recommend that in the short term you do what’s necessary to protect your family and community.  In the long term, it would seem advisable to reduce your vulnerability to predatory utility companies–either by going off grid or organizing your community into forming a municipal utility.


“Private Memoirs of a Smart Meter” Steamy exposé about supposeedly just what a smart meter can tell about your private doings.  https://stopsmartmeters.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Private-Memiors-of-Smart-Meter.pdf

SoCal will probably get the same type of opt out; Man in San Diego County measures smart meter radiation : http://www.nctimes.com/blogsnew/business/energy/energy-customers-to-get-option-to-dump-smart-meters/article_3e7b1bc6-456f-5246-b047-343c157b8f20.html

The ACLU in Hawaii issues a document on smart meters: https://stopsmartmeters.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/smart-meters-ACLU-hawaii.pdf

Watchdog Finds Smart Grid is Insecure: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/02/04/watchdog-finds-cybersecurity-shortcomings-with-stimulus-backed-power-grid/

Truth Out scopes the smart meter opt out for any shred of truth… http://www.truth-out.org/smart-meter-scoop-california-utility-launches-opt-out-program/1328294529

Utility industry wonk recommends all utilities allow opt-out “regardless of the validity of opponents’ concerns about health, safety and privacy.” http://tdworld.com/customer_service/smart-meter-opt-out-0112/

This entry was posted in California, Changing a Meter, CPUC, neighborhood organizing, PG&E. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to “What Do I Do Now?” Confusing Reports and Mixed Signals

  1. OC Radiated says:

    We told the Edison company we did not want a smart meter on our home. The man wrote down something on his notepad, told us we would have to pay a ‘opt-out fee’ and that our electricity may be turned off if we didn’t. We told him OK and he left. Today, about a month later, we noticed Edison came when we weren’t home, went in our backyard, and installed the smart meter anyways. We’re having a baby this month and our house is quite small, I’m very worried about us all being exposed.

  2. Jim says:

    I think $10 is a bit much for one simple visit a month. Did they supply actual cost data to the PUC? It should be more like $1. They act like a guy drives all the way across town just for you.

    And so now people can demand $10 a month off their bill if they have a “smart” meter, right? When will we petitioning the PUC for that?

  3. Redi Kilowatt says:

    I read part of that steamy expose, it is not about basic smart meters at all.
    It was done at the University of Massachusetts. First, people have to realize that this paper was done with using very sophisticated and expensive lab equipment. None of which is used by the utilities or in any smart meter now. And also keep in mind that University studies are often funded by corporations like the Koch Bros., Monsanto, the big pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers of electronic wireless devices.
    Here a few items on page one that I will address:
    Our analysis uses 2 months of data from 3 houses, which we “instrumented” to log aggregate power used by each house every one second.
    There are no smart meters in use that will ever do this in PG&E territory, and the “smart grid” radio networks are not capable of transmitting data that fast. If it were ever to be done, each and every customer would have to pay for either a high speed broadband connection (about $60 per month), or a 4G mobile phone wireless network with data package (about $100 per month), plus a new generation of meters would have to be deployed that will be much more sophisticated and expensive that the current ones used.
    The lab equipment that they used costs tens of thousands of dollars and is very sophisticated.
    They mention “fine grained” power consumption appliances. Those are the new large appliances that are fitted with ARRA federal stimulus tax dollar funded monitoring chips. Those chips on new large appliances have a ZigBee transmitter in them that transmits to the customer purchased Home Area Networks receiver. These chips do not send data to the meter, the radio network “smart grid” or the utility central servers, the data is strictly for home use by the customer marketed as a way for customers to monitor home energy use if they have time and can afford such a system.
    What has happened is that there is not much interest at all in HAN’s, and Microsoft was working on such a system called Holm, decided to drop the project. Google was working on developing a HAN system too, but they dropped the project also.
    Google is working on an internet based home automation system to compete with the hundreds of other automation systems that have been on the market for decades.
    The report mentioned trends that have led to various technologies hoped to be implemented in the future, one of them is to install new meters that are capable of supporting a two-way flow of electricity between customers who generate their own electricity with renewable sources like solar, wind and hydro-electric and back feed it to the power grid to be used locally. The current generation of E1 smart meters are not capable of any such thing. Right now, anyone who has a grid-tied solar system cannot use a smart meter, they must use either a traditional E1 analog meter, or a digital E6/E7 Time of Use Meter, both of these meters are not called “SmartMeters”, and must be read manually by a meter reader once a month.
    There are experimental new meters for electric vehicle chargers ONLY called E9 meters. These meters are very sophisticated and expensive, the cost the customer around $4000 and must be installed by the utility. They are completely separate metering systems and a second meter, because they can only be used for vehicle charging. The E9 rate schedule allows to run a vehicle charger between the hours 12:pm and 7:am at a reduced rate of 0.06 per kilowatt/hour, the rest of the time it will be much more.
    And the sad facts are, the customer may have to pay for an engineering report to determine if the local step down transformer can handle the additional load(s) of new vehicle chargers. It is likely that a transformer upgrade will be needed if more that one vehicle charger is added to the local demand on the power grid.
    These new E9 meters will not work on the mesh network smart grid, the need either a high speed broadband internet connection or a 4G mobile phone connection.
    So, my evaluation of this University paper is that it is not pure science fiction like some of the other writings that I have seen, it is extremely misleading to someone who doesn’t really know much about the subject. It is not relative to the present rollout.

    • Daniel says:

      Actually they are pretty much to the point. If you did some research you would see that they were using a TED or The Energy Detective, a personal home power monitoring device. I have one in my home so I can monitor and adjust my own power usage..what a concept. It cost a few hunderd dollars, is not some specialist device and monitors the power using a clamp a measurement device that talks to the logger about once a second..not very high speed is it, but with 10 second data or even minute data (some of the fielded smart meters do once a second measurements) you can glean a total view of every appliance in the house..The software that comes with my couple of hundred dollar TED is capable of footprinting or identifying individual appliances flagging their on and off times..like COFFEE POT ON, GARAGE DOOR OPENER ON, STOVE ON, all with neat little time tags. I can see when the hot tub does heating cycles, or when someone is in it because of the different ways the jets run. Showeres, dishwasher, TVs are all clearly identifiable.

  4. nigat says:

    i just had a smart meter fitted but after reading its not safe , i want it 2 be removed but the company sayin they cant be removed can help please thank you

  5. ShucksTheExplorer says:

    My mail delivery person handed me a certified note from PGE today, which of course is this opt-out crap threat. Anyway, the funny thing is she said “I still have 39 of these to deliver today!”

    I have no idea exactly how many people are on her route, but that is a good number of opt-outs, and there are more who have the smart meters that probably want out.

    BTW, this $10 a month charge is total crap.

    • Redi Kilowatt says:

      I just got a certified letter yesterday also, the postman had a bundle of them for his route late in the day yet to deliver. He must have had 2 bundles in the morning.
      I called the number and went through the automated process to not opt into the SmartMeter program (because I never ordered or received a SmartMeter).
      After completing the automated part of the process, I wanted to make sure that I did everything correctly so I pushed 0 to speak to a representative. The rep told me that my application was not complete, and that I had to either send in the form, or she could do it on the phone for me right now. So I let her do it, and then she explained about the fees involved and asked me if I understood them, I said yes I completely understand.
      She then told me that a technician would come up and install a sticker on my old meter so Wellington does not yank it out.
      I told her that Wellington has come and gone from this area about a year ago, so I don’t need a sticker. She told me that this must be done, and since I told her that my gates are locked at all times, that the technician would call before delivery. I told her that I might not be home, so the tech can leave the sticker under the gate and I can figure out how to install it.
      Another reason that I wanted to speak to a live rep on the phone was to ask her about the advertised feature in the brochure about being able to (if I had a SmartMeter) view previous electrical usage hour by hour up to 24 hours prior.
      She said “absolutely, that feature has been working since the new meters were first installed”
      I told her about how I called the phone number on the SmartMeter sales brochure 2 months ago and the rep told me that “this is something that we are working on, but it is not available yet”.
      So, I said to the rep yesterday , “I guess PG&E told me wrong”, and she said, ” the rep might have been talking about your specific area, not the whole territory”
      Now I don’t know who to believe, but it is of no concern at all to me. I then told the rep “what good is it to know how much electricity that I used past tense, since it is not real time data, it is of no use to me”.

  6. ShucksTheExplorer says:

    PG&E is installing a digital “non-transmitting” meter for customers requesting the opt out, instead of an analog, as they are required to do by the recent ruling;
    PG&E is saying that unless you choose by May 1 you will be forced to have a smart meter;
    PG&E is saying that after May 1 you won’t be able to opt out of a smart meter;
    PG&E is replacing current analogs with a different analog;
    PG&E is placing people on a waiting list and won’t be replacing smart meters with analogs until May.

    The letter specifically says this:

    “According to the CPUC’s decision, customers who wish to opt-out must inform PG&E of their choice, even if they are already on the Delay List. Customers who do not contact PG&E to opt-out should be upgraded to SmartMeters.”


    “If we do not receive your request by then (May 1, 2012), we will assume your preference is to have PG&E upgrade your meters to SmartMeters.”

  7. Redi Kilowatt says:

    I read the letter that PG&E sent me, but there was no information about the future, like if I decide to move to another address in a few years that is still in PG&E territory.
    I think this is a very serious question that PG&E needs to clarify to all it’s customers.
    Some questions that I have are:
    If I decide to move, no doubt that I will not want a SmartMeter at my new location, so what are my options ?
    Since I agreed to pay the $75 fee to not opt into the SmartMeter program and if I move will still need to have my same account number with PG&E, just a different address, will I be able to transfer my analog meter to the new address if it has a SmartMeter at the new address ?
    If I tell PG&E that I am moving, will PG&E tell me that I have to fork over more money to have my analog removed and a SmartMeter installed at my old address ?
    Will PG&E allow me to have a SmartMeter removed at my new address ?, and if so, is the initial fee transferable, or will I have to pay an additional fee to not opt into the SmartMeter program ?
    And what about future new customers coming from other areas ? No doubt that some future new residents will not SmartMeters, will they have a choice, or is this the only chance for customers to dump the SmartMeter program.
    And also, there are rumors that PG&E stealthly snuck in a rate increase only to people that have analog meters because PG&E will not be able to gouge those customers with a peak pricing scheme because they have no way of knowing at what times the customer is using electricity.
    I hope someone from PG&E reads this, probably will. So please PG&E, please include the answers to these questions in the letter of confirmation that you will be sending out to the customers who did not opt into your SmartMeter program.

  8. Electra says:

    As we all know, this whole thing is ridiculous. “Smart” meters should never have been unleashed on the public, as they are untested, extremely dangerous, and probably illegal due to both those factors.

    I just wanted to update people on our progress here in Georgia. The Waycross Journal-Herald covered our appearance before the Waycross commissioners last night. I thought the way Scott Gordon wrote the portion pertaining to our presentation was very good:

    “[They] had a warning to deliver to the commission about ‘smart meters’ that utility companies may be installing at homes and businesses. [He] said these meters communicate directly with the electric companies. [They] believe they emit dangerous radiation.
    “The radiation from a ‘smart meter’ signal is 40 times stronger than a cell phone,” he said. “I may choose to use a cell phone or microwave. I should be able to choose whether to have a ‘smart meter’ installed.”
    [He] said some states and cities have banned their use or given customers an ‘opt out.’ He said he doesn’t know of anyone in Waycross who has one yet, but he believes they are on the way.”

    One reason I like his approach is that there are no idiotic quotes from the power company saying “All is well! All is well!” One other positive note: The presentation was on TV, so more Georgians will discover what an unmitigated disaster these things are.

    I’m posting this so others will be encouraged to present the dangers of smart meters to their state’s jurisdictions. These civic bodies can be very particular about how much time is taken to give them the info, so I’m pasting below our five minute presentation. Hope it helps!

    • Electra says:

      Feel free to use this. You will have to change the particulars, unless you’re living in Georgia! You can email me at info@stopsmartmetersgeorgia.org for a copy of this speech with links to all the research mentioned. And thanks, once again, to all the websites like StopSmartMeters and EMFSafetyNetwork, and also the commenters, that make this resistance possible!


      How would you feel if someone were to say that you had to let them paint the inside of your house with lead paint? Or cover all of your pipes with asbestos? That is how dangerous and questionable the new “smart” meter electric meters may be.

      “Smart” meters have not been tested for human safety, or UL tested. Some doctors have said their installation should stop immediately, until they ARE tested.

      We are in favor of progress, and welcome new technology, but not when it places Georgians and others directly in harm’s way.

      “Smart” meters use radiation to transmit their signals. To make it sound less dangerous, the power company says the smart meter only transmits “for a TOTAL of one second a day.” But, in reality, a smart meter divides that up throughout the day, shooting radiofrequency radiation through you and your family hundreds of times in a twenty-four hour period. The power company will cite the “CCST report,” and say they are within FCC guidelines. But those guidelines only cover thermal, or heating, effects.

      What the power company doesn’t tell you is that there are NO guidelines to cover NON-thermal effects, in other words, damage that is done when there is no heating. The same type of radiation which smart meters emit has been shown to damage human cells. It has been shown to cause cancer, especially in children. The World Health Organization has declared radiofrequency radiation a class 2B carcinogen, just like lead paint.

      When comparing whole body exposure to radiation from a smart meter and a cell phone, Dr. David Hirsch found out that a smart meter puts out at least FORTY TIMES MORE RADIATION than a cell phone (the power company will tell you it’s much less – please look at your Smart Meter Survival Kit for references.) Imagine forty cell phones attached to your wall, and on all the time. That’s important to know when you consider that your exposure to radiation is cumulative – it adds up over time.

      Georgia Power uses Sensus brand meters, as does Nevada. Nevada has had hundreds of complaints, including health problems and burned-out appliances. And an Alabama Sensus employee, Don Baker, was fired because he told his superiors that Sensus “smart” meters were catching on fire and melting. They melt at 500 degrees Fahrenheit! He called the Sensus meters inaccurate, some reporting up to seven times the actual usage, and said they were “fundamentally unsound.”

      Some attribute these complaints to the “smart” meters’ power source. It can create a very strong magnetic field along the wires in your home. This may be connected to reports of insomnia, irregular heartbeat, and ringing in the ears. A much higher than normal incidence of cancer has also been tied to this phenomenon, which is termed “dirty electricity,” with cancer rates going up from 65% to 13 times higher where strong electromagnetic interference exists.

      “Smart” meters can also be hacked easily. Anyone with a laptop or a cell phone and the knowhow can figure out if you’re not using any power, because you’re not home, and they may take that opportunity to rob you.

      Some places have actually criminalized the installation of smart meters. The law, which is the Federal Energy Policy Act of 2005, says only that you can have a “smart” meter if you ask for one.

      Taxpayers are paying the Georgia Public Service Commission to make sure we have safe electricity. That is their job. They should stop installation now, until human safety research is completed, research that should have been done before smart meters were unleashed on an unsuspecting public.

      Georgians should not have to pay a penalty to avoid a smart meter. California has just approved on opt-out option, and Nevada is about to offer one. In Maine, you don’t get a smart meter unless you ask for one – they are following the law! Several states have decided NOT to have them at all. The Connecticut attorney general said “NO,” since the consumer would only save eleven dollars over a twenty year period!

      There is a way to avoid getting a “smart” meter. Put a sign in a gallon Ziploc bag that says “DO NOT REPLACE METER. We refuse the smart meter due to health, safety, and privacy issues.” Tape that sign under your safe, analog meter. Tell your family, friends, and neighbors to do the same, and look out for each other.

      And please call the Georgia Public Service Commissioners, including Doug Everett, who is in charge of safe electricity for South Georgia, and tell them that you don’t want to be a guinea pig for these dangerous devices. Their number is 800-282-5813. Ask them the questions in your Smart Meter Survival Kit. Demand that only completely safe electric meters be on our homes and businesses. Thank you very much for your time, and we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.

  9. Pingback: UK affirms voluntary Smart Meters while CPUC requires fees to opt-out « Burbank ACTION

  10. Ron says:

    Can anyone provide a reference or citation of the regulation in the Public Utilities Code or the Energy Policy Act that prohibits utilities from discriminating against people medically disqualified from having a smart meter, by charging them extra for retaining an analog meter?
    I know I have seen this mentioned here at some time.

    • admin says:

      CPUC code section 453(b) 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. A person who has exhausted all administrative remedies with the commission may institute a suit for injunctive relief and reasonable attorney’s fees in cases of an alleged violation of this subdivision. If successful in litigation, the prevailing party shall be awarded attorney’s fees.

  11. Kristen says:

    Thanks for your work on this Josh and for supplying the letter. I sent to our community bulletin board (virtual) and am posting it at our General Store too.

  12. Margaret Montuy says:

    Today March 19, 2012 I received a Smart Meter Opt-Out Program
    Meter Choice pamphlet.

    I told PG&E I did not know I had a Smart Meter.
    I was told PG&E had the right to change the meter

    Now I have to pay $75.00 and $10.00 a month to cover charges for the person who will read the meter.
    Not only is PG&E expensive, now lets add $10.00 more a month.

    I have paid for One month, $679.00 . and I do not Use Gas.

    I buy Propane for other house hold use. The Heater uses Propane.

  13. MK says:

    Itron Smart Meters in Canada are being removed and recalled!!! Ratepayers say it is due to inaccurately high billing and energy use readings. BC Hydro is obfuscating and says it’s “routine testing.” You can see the video just posted today on Youtube…


  14. Weyman Thomas says:

    Go to :www.change.org/petitions/save-our-health-privacy and sign a petition to stop this smart meter nonsense & get our health & rights back

  15. Lynden says:

    Asked for the “non-transmitting” meter…Ms. Simons from Georgia Power 404-506-7491, says it doesn’t exist. She states that there is no radiation that comes from the meter, that there is a solid steal plate that protects customers from radiation, she states there’s less than 1 percent of radiation coming in from that meter, and says that any and all complaints are from ONE person who is making this an issue that doesn’t exist. Please contact Ms. Simon at Georgia Power to let her know just how many people find it to be an issue.

    I found that Georgia Power came onto my property and damaged my gate doors. They literally took off my gate doors because it was pad locked for others protection regarding my pool in the back yard. They are coming tomorrow to fix the gates and refuse to put an anolog meter on my property and take off the Smart Meter.

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