FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
MARIN COUNTY AND THE TOWN OF FAIRFAX FILE MOTION TO DELAY FURTHER PG&E SMART METER INSTALLATIONS PENDING COMMUNITY OPT-OUT HEARINGS
PG&E continues to push for smart meter installations, despite widespread confusion and resistance towards opt-out fees, in jurisdictions that have passed moratoriums and show strong support for community-wide opt-out.
Marin County, CA – While PG&E was reassuring local governments that smart meter moratoriums were being respected by the utility, PG&E was quietly attempting to make appointments with customers to have smart meters installed.
Despite PG&E’s public statement that they will turn off customer’s electricity if smart meter opt-out fees are not paid, residents are becoming increasingly steadfast in their resistance to smart meter installation, often refusing to pay the associated fees.
“They called several times and tried to make an appointment to install a smart meter even though I made it clear that I didn’t want one. I refuse to pay to opt-out of a smart meter program that I never opted-in to. I still have my analog meter, but now PG&E is trying to force me to have a smart meter if I don’t pay the fees. PG&E has publicly stated that they will shut off customers electricity if they don’t pay to opt-out, these threats demonstrate the true PG&E culture” said Robert Milner of Point Reyes Station.
Unincorporated West Marin County and the town of Fairfax have filed a motion with the CPUC urging PG&E to delay installation in their communities until community wide opt-out has been decided in the CPUC. These local governments feel strongly that this must be respected in order to allow for a fair legal process in the CPUC’s “phase 2” community choice opt-out proceeding.
Steve Kinsey, President of the Marin Board of Supervisors had this to say:
“The Board of Supervisors has joined this effort to insist that CPUC refrain from letting PG&E install any more smart meters until all outstanding issues affecting ratepayers have been addressed. We will continue to protest PG&E charges in instances where no change is needed, as well as encourage the PUC to let communities decide whether to opt-out of installations altogether.”
Larry Bragman, the former Mayor and current town council member of Fairfax stated:
“The Fairfax Town Council has long concluded that our electrical grid will be smarter and more secure if the CPUC adopts a community opt out program that permits diverse but compatible metering technology. Until the commission completes its consideration of those options, further deployment of Smart Meters should be delayed and ratepayers should not be forced to pay fees to keep analog meters that have already proven to be safe and accurate.”
The strong support for community wide opt-out has been actively pursued throughout West Marin and Fairfax.
“When a large percentage of our small communities have shown over the past eighteen months that they don’t want smart meters, it seems like bad business for PG&E to turn a blind eye. PG&E continues to insist on placing an unjustified financial burden on ratepayers when most people in the community clearly don’t want smart meters and are being charged to keep their existing analog meters.” said Barry Smith, Director of Alliance for Human and Environmental Health in West Marin, an organization participating in filing this motion.
There are many instances where people cannot afford PG&E’s high opt-out fees, and intend to resist a service that they never agreed to. PG&E’s opt-out fees don’t make sense in communities that wish to opt-out. This situation is very common in Fairfax’s and West Marin’s neighborhoods, towns, and apartment buildings where a large percentage of residents share the conviction that they never opted-in to the smart meter program, and don’t want to pay to retain their analog meters.
“Why should we each pay for a separate meter reader every month when there are entire neighborhoods that want to opt-out? PG&E’s current opt-out fees are arbitrary, punitive, and make little sense in terms of actual cost” asserts Katharina Sandizell, Director of West Marin Citizens Against Smart Meters of Point Reyes Station.
One resident of a West Marin senior housing facility had this to say:
“I live in a senior apartment building in Point Reyes Station that has 25 separate electric meters on the outer wall of someone’s apartment. The units are small and we are all within close vicinity to the meters. We have residents living here who are very frail and vulnerable with medical conditions. If smart meters were to replace the analog meters, the intense and frequent bursts of Radio Frequency coming from the smart meters would present health risks for us all and especially for those whose health is already compromised.”
Another of the residents of this same senior housing continued: “I have serious health problems and have been harmed by environmental pollutants because my system is frail. I can’t afford to take any chances with my health, like being exposed to high levels of radio frequency radiation as with smart meters. There would be 25 smart meters on a wall of our building that would most certainly effect me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” The resident also talked about the high fees for opting out: “Many of us here in senior housing are on low incomes and are worried about those fees. Even if I could afford to opt-out, the other 24 meters would still be impacting me. This is why we need a community wide opt-out choice.”
Larry Bragman, Fairfax Town Council Member, 415.459.6060
Steve Kinsey, President of the Marin County Board of Supervisors 415.473.7331
Barry Smith, Director, Alliance for Human and Environmental Health, 415.663.8025 / 415.233.1071
Katharina Sandizell, Director, West Marin Citizens Against Smart Meters 415.728.7000