Southern California Gas Disconnects “Opt Out” Fee Resister; Fairfax, Sebastopol Face Forced Smart Meter Deployment

California Investor-Owned Utilities on War Path

“Soft defenses” surround Mr. Hermann’s gas meter– no longer functioning since he was disconnected in December, though he had paid his bill (minus the illegal opt out charge)

On December 7th, 2016, the Southern California Gas Company disconnected the gas service of San Luis Obispo resident Ken Herrmann for unpaid “opt-out” fees related to their “advanced” metering system. This is the first instance we are aware of where an investor owned utility (IOU) in California has disconnected service solely for non-payment of opt out fees.  While thousands of PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E customers continue to deduct illegal “opt out” fees from their utility bills, and subsequently receive letters threatening imminent disconnect, so far we have not heard of anyone apart from Mr. Herrmann whose service has been disconnected due to non-payment of ‘opt out’ fees to an account in good standing.

This is an outrageous violation of our rights by shareholder-controlled corporations who enjoy monopoly control over essential services, and are using RF as a weapon to extract protection racket fees. Let’s not forget that former SCE CEO and CPUC President Michael Peevey was caught with his pants down admitting over e-mail that:

There really are people who feel pain, etc., related to EMF,etc., and rather than have them becoming hysterical, etc., I would quietly leave them alone. Kick it around.”

Michael Peevey’s legacy is one of state-sanctioned extortion involving (what he admitted in writing) smart meters that make people “feel pain.”  Now, state “regulated” utilities are actually disconnecting service for people who:

1) refuse to accept a device that the former CPUC President admitted in writing “causes pain,” or the “etc…” of hidden damage that Peevey alludes to

2) refuse to pay a fee to avoid such pain and damage

Now that the energy industry controls the federal executive branch, utilities may see a green light for further bullying crackdowns. This criminal behavior must be resisted through a diversity of tactics.

Mr. Hermann’s PG&E analog electric meter, physically secured since 2012 by steel plate and 2 reinforced locks.

Mr. Herrmann consistently paid all gas usage costs and rightfully deducted the unwarranted and illegal“opt-out” fees.

He asserts that  the collection of time-sensitive energy-use-data through the use of “smart” metering is a violation of his natural and constitutional (California – Article 1, sections 1 &13, United States – 4th Amendment) right to privacy and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. In a formal complaint  filed with the CPUC after being disconnected, Mr. Herrmann writes that:

“as an agency of the State, the CPUC has a Constitutional restriction from acts depriving any person of life, liberty, or property, (Privacy being property) as stated in the United States Constitution – 14th Amendment… addition, the acquisition of private data (property) through “smart” or “advanced “ metering, and “opt-out” charges and threats of, or actual, utility disconnection meet the United States Code definition of Extortion.”

Mr. Herrmann’s complaint goes on to say:

  • The CPUC, in support of “smart” and “advanced” metering, has failed to serve the public interest, failed to protect consumers, and failed to support and defend our California and United States Constitutions.
  • The CPUC is operating under a “color of right” or “color of law” in its support and “authorization” of “smart” and “Advanced” metering.
  • The CPUC must remove support for these metering systems and fully support and recognize “the benefits that accrue to those not deploying such technology and devices, but who are part of the same regional electricity entity” (Energy Policy Act of 2005, section 1252f).
  • The CPUC must support all citizens who object to forced installation of invasive personal data collection devices and end all extortionate charges (“opt-out” fees) and action (threats of, and actual, disconnections)

Mr. Herrmann is intent on holding out against the utility and has set up alternative heating and cooking systems to manage daily household functions (much as we did three years ago when the local utility cut us off for refusing to pay opt out fees) until justice prevails in his case.  We wish him luck and will continue to support his resistance. Just as we support the many others who are standing up for safe communities, and who continue to deduct ridiculous and insulting “opt out” fees for a system they never “opted in” to, from their monthly bills.

Resistance Towns Fairfax and Sebastopol Under Smart Meter Deployment Threat

Community blockade in Dec. 2010 led to the withdrawal of Wellington Energy from areas of Marin and Sonoma Counties- now they are back.

Meanwhile, PG&E has threatened to deploy smart meters into two Northern California cities which outlawed the devices in 2010.  According to one report, “there could be confrontations” between residents opposed to the electronic surveillance devices in their community, and utility employees attempting to install.  Similar “confrontations” led to PG&E withdrawing its “forces” from the area in 2010. We continue to rally behind these North Bay Area communities, and call for solidarity and direct action to resist utility bullying, and support the democratic right of city and county governments to pass and enforce smart meter bans.

This entry was posted in California, Citizen rebellion, CPUC, Democracy, legal issues, neighborhood organizing, PG&E, Privacy, SCE, SDG&E. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Southern California Gas Disconnects “Opt Out” Fee Resister; Fairfax, Sebastopol Face Forced Smart Meter Deployment

  1. Kathleen Pierson says:

    SoCalGas did the same thing to us just before Christmas 2015. I had them remove a “advanced meter” they had placed without my knowledge or consent. My oldest son is severely autistic and suffered his first seizure right after they placed the meter. They said that I had to pay a $75 initial opt-out fee and then $10 per month for a couple years if I didn’t want the new gas meter. I told them that I was never even informed about them placing this on my house, so I obviously didn’t opt-in. They said that the opt-out fee was approved by the CPUC and is mandated. I told them that I’m not paying it and they said that they’ll send someone out to disconnect our service the next day. They kept their promise.The SoCalGas guy asked me if I wanted to change my mind and accept the “advanced meter” to avoid disconnection or write him a check. I refused to do either and we managed to make it 2 days without hot water or heat before my kids ganged up on me and told me that I was ruining their Christmas. I succumbed to their protests and paid the extortion fee as well as a reconnection fee which was something like $300. The energy mafia sent Vinny to break my knees, or maybe just my bank account. The Energy Policy Act says that these devices aren’t mandated, but are to be offered to customers upon request. WTF! They go around bullying and trying to intimidate people into accepting this technology that has no safety studies and is, as most people now know, an extreme health threat. They’re trying to convince their customers that they’re federally mandated and they’re not. Even if they were mandated, we should never cooperate with unjust laws. They can’t just make these laws that don’t serve us (only serves them and their corporate masters) and expect us to abide by them. Do we not have a right of ownership to determine what goes on our homes if something is obviously harmful? We need a class action lawsuit against these energy companies or a mass action where we all have these damn meters taken off our houses and stop paying their extortion fees. What would they do then?

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