Sample Ltr to Local Govt

Here is a letter that we sent to the City of Watsonville.   Feel free to adapt this letter for your own city or county.  It’s ‘copyleft’

August 9th, 2010

Watsonville City Council

275 Main St., Suite 400 (4th Floor)

Watsonville, CA 95076

Dear Watsonville City Councilmembers,

On behalf of Scotts Valley Neighbors Against Smart Meters (SVNASM), I want to thank you for taking the time to hear the concerns about the proposed installation of ‘smart’ meters in Watsonville. SVNASM is a new and growing organization made up of dozens of Scotts Valley residents alarmed about the current smart meter deployment. Three weeks ago, we presented the evidence of serious problems with the smart meter program to the cities of Scotts Valley and Capitola, who responded by signing on to petitions to the CPUC requesting an immediate moratorium on the installation of smart meters in the state.   Since then, more cities and counties have joined the call for an immediate moratorium, and just last week the City of Fairfax enacted a ban on smart meters within their city limits, the strongest stand to date of any local government against PG&E’s plans.  You can find out more about our group, and see recent videos of Scotts Valley neighbors resisting smart meter installation at http://stopsmartmeters.wordpress.com.

We maintain that the smart meter program has been rolled out by PG&E with little to no public consultation, or even advance notification, and that the program has serious flaws that may impact the health, safety, and financial wellbeing of the residents of Watsonville (and indeed the rest of the state).  We respectfully ask that you take a prudent, cautious approach and join the current petitions pending before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) by the City and County of San Francisco and the EMF Safety Network.   The EMF Safety Network is a coalition of business and property owners, concerned citizens and PG&E ratepayers in Northern California who address health, environmental, and safety impacts associated with electromagnetic fields (EMF) and radiofrequency radiation (RF) technologies.

We have a number of concerns in the following areas:

1) Health and EMF Emissions from Smart Meters

The first, and most pressing matter for us is the issue of health.  PG&E claims that the meters are safe because they comply with Electromagnetic Field (EMF) regulations established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).   PG&E also claims that the World Health Organization (WHO) says that EMF exposure is safe.  The truth is that EMF is currently under investigation by the WHO as a possible carcinogen[1], and even the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that the FCC standards are “thermally based, and do not apply to chronic, non-thermal exposure situations.” [2] PG&E admits there has been no independent testing of the devices for cumulative impacts, or long term exposure.  We are particularly concerned about the impacts to residents of apartment buildings in your town, as some units will have more than two dozen emitting meters installed directly adjacent to their living quarters.

Large institutions with a responsibility for human health and wellbeing already admit that there are likely health problems associated with EMF exposure.  The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) classifies EMF radiation as a hazardous substance. NIEHS advocates prudent avoidance of EMF in the workplace.[3]

The recent Interphone study, a 10-year international study on the safety of cell phones, identified a connection between cell phone use and glioma.[4] This was one of many studies that convinced the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to pass the “cell phone right-to-know” legislation in June, mandating that wireless retailers within city limits advertise the radiation levels of cell phones at the point of sale.[5] In response to this very mild law, the wireless industry cancelled their annual conference in San Francisco and denounced the legislation.   One wonders what they are trying to hide.

There are literally thousands of studies that raise concerns about the health impacts from EMF.   Many of these are detailed on the EMF Safety Network site.[6] I am also attaching a copy of a letter that Bay Area physicians and other health practitioners are currently signing, requesting an immediate moratorium on the smart meter program because of health concerns.  The letter is annotated with a very large number of citations to careful independent scientific research, suggestive of serious health problems resulting from smart meters and other wireless equipment exposure.

Although the science is far from certain, we feel there is a reasonable suspicion of negative health impacts that may result from EMF in general, and these meters in particular.   We would argue that this uncertainty is reason to tread cautiously, not justification for introducing millions of new sources of EMF into our communities and onto our homes.

2) Smart Meters: The Wrong Kind of Green

PG&E claims that the smart meters will reduce our carbon footprint and help address global warming.  There are many claims these days that products or services are “green” and will help to address climate change.   We feel that a healthy degree of skepticism is needed to separate real environmental solutions from false ones.  From the evidence we have reviewed, we feel like the smart meter program falls into the latter category.  We are attaching a letter from Michael Neuert, an electrical engineer with nearly 20 years of experience in home energy use and efficiency, presenting evidence that smart meters may actually increase carbon emissions.

3) Privacy and control issues

There are a number of concerns about data privacy and the potential for hackers to fiddle with our electricity supply.   There are a number of articles and resources here: http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2010/03/09

http://www.sott.net/articles/show/209844-Smart-Meters-Raise-Privacy-Concerns

http://consumercal.blogspot.com/2009/09/emerging-privacy-threat-posed-by-smart.html

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/12/03/smart_meters_confirmed/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8N7_iryR1A&NR=1

4) Billing issues

You are undoubtedly already quite familiar with these issues, and with PG&E’s constantly changing stories as to the degree and causes of the problems.  Now they claim that everything has been mitigated and the installation program is proceeding without incident.  But witness a report on KGO TV as recently as the end of June, about the efforts that were required by a group of Stanford students to get their electric bill rectified.  Not every Watsonville resident will be capable of monitoring or researching their energy use adequately to convince PG&E of such over-billing problems.  The report can be viewed at

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/7_on_your_side&id=7522788.

5) Fire and Electrical Safety

There have been a number of reports of smart meters malfunctioning, shorting out and catching on fire.  They also have been known to interfere with AFCI’s and GFCI’s- safety devices intended to prevent electrical fires.  Here is one report from Bakersfield:  http://www.bakersfield.com/news/business/economy/x1685665931/Vacuum-shop-fire-raises-SmartMeter-questions

6) Open Democracy and Public Process Concerns

 

In a leaked internal document, PG&E says:

“PG&E’s SmartMeter™ program is not only one of the first advanced metering

programs in the United States, it is also among the largest technology rollouts

ever.”

We believe that serious questions need to be asked about the lack of public consultation and notification, given that this is “among the largest technology rollouts ever.” The public was never asked whether we wanted this new system, and now we are being told we can’t opt out.   That is not the way a participatory democracy is meant to function.

7) PG&E Franchise Violations

We urge the Council to directly request that PG&E cease meter installation within City Limits.  We believe that the installation of wireless repeater boxes on city-owned land as part of the smart meter program is inconsistent with the current Scotts Valley franchise agreement, which we believe is similar to Watsonville’s agreement, which allows PG&E:

“The franchise to construct, maintain and use poles, wires, conduits and appurtenances necessary or proper for transmitting and distributing electricity to the public for any and all purposes, in, along, across, upon, under and over the streets within city is granted to grantee.”

The franchise agreement does not include reference to collecting or transmitting customer data.  We take the position that PG&E failed to renegotiate the franchise agreement and so are in breach of that agreement by installing repeater boxes on city property.  We would be interested in the opinion of the city attorney about this issue, and what powers the City might have to stop PG&E from any further installation of smart meter repeaters on publicly owned property.

To sum up, we urge the City Council to take prudent action at this time to defend the health, safety, and economic well-being of the citizens of Watsonville and sign on to the San Francisco and EMF Safety Network petitions to the CPUC for a moratorium on the smart meter program until such time as these questions are resolved.  In so doing, you would join a growing number of cities and counties throughout California who are standing up to PG&E, including Piedmont, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Cruz Counties, Berkeley, Bolinas, Camp Meeker, Sausalito, Scotts Valley, Capitola, Sebastopol, Fairfax, Monte Sereno, Cotati, and others.  As awareness of the problems with the meters spread, we expect to see more local governments join the call for a moratorium.

The town of Fairfax in Marin County has taken one of the boldest stands yet against PG&E’s smart meters, passing an ordinance banning the devices and taking PG&E to task for violating that town’s franchise agreement.  See SFGate article at:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/08/06/BU6M1EPHUK.DTL#ixzz0vs9d2XXx You can also download the ordinance at: http://www.town-of-fairfax.org/ There is an excellent video of the council meeting in which many of the issues with smart meters are raised in a public forum, available online: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyRkHBOKaNA

There are relatively minor consequences for putting the brakes on the smart meter program.  However, the consequences of going forward with potentially injurious and inaccurate meters could be much more serious.  As Christine Barrington, a member of SVNASM, stated at a Scotts Valley hearing two weeks ago, “what’s the rush?”

Again, we thank you for considering this issue with the seriousness it deserves, and for taking reasonable steps to protect the health, safety, and economic well-being of the citizens of Watsonville.

Sincerely,

Joshua Hart

Director, Scotts Valley Neighbors Against Smart Meters

joshuanoahhart[at]gmail[dot]com


[1] http://www.who.int/peh-emf/research/children/en/index4.html

 

[2] http://www.emrnetwork.org/position/noi_response/noi_epa_response.pdf

[3] http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/resources/library/consumer/hazardous.cfm

[4]http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/59296/title/Interphone_study_finds_hints_of_brain_cancer_risk_in_heavy_cell-phone_users

[5]http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/27/opinion/27dowd.html?scp=1&sq=right%20to%20know%20dowd&st=cse

[6] http://emfsafetynetwork.org

10 Responses to Sample Ltr to Local Govt

  1. Meredith says:

    I have MCS and am afraid of this new source of emf. I don’t need anymore agravation. I called Edison and they said they wre absolutely putting them in there is no stopping them. I calld ADA and they said they would have to determine “resonable accomodations” and if it is their new equipment then too bad for me. Who represents me? What happens to my accomodations? I told them at the ADA hotline that they should expect a lot more calls from people like me and I hoped they were kinder to them.
    I feel like a leper.
    Meredith

    • Joyce says:

      I too have mcs, and have had it for about twenty years. I can “sense” emf to where if my heart doesn’t start jumping around, the headaches start and continue getting worse until I get out of the area. I cannot imagine living outside as I live in a high desert with summers over 100 degrees and winters down to fifty for a high and the teens for a low. My husband says I should have no problems with it. Still, the only way I can find out is to experience it but by then it will be too late. I have heard these installed around the globe too. How are you holding up?

  2. Dianne Wilkins says:

    I am very proud of those protesting mothers for standing up for their rights and protecting their families. I am also a mother and live in Falmouth, Maine and we have a similar situation that started in October, 2010. Central Maine Power started installing smart meters without the consent, knowledge, prior warnings, and when no one was home. Forty people have filed complaints with the PUC to request an investigation regarding the health, privacy & property violations, fire safety issues of these r.f.r meters. Since the PUC had already approved the installation without even looking at the safety of these devices, we do not have much hope that the PUC will investigage further. Unfortunately, people in this state seem to be less aware of the risk involved with these meters and less willing to protest. I have filed a complaint with the PUC, case #2010400 (another is 2010345) and you can view the complaint and also file a comment (must reference the case #2010400) with the case by going to the PUC website at http://www.maine.gov/mpuc/online/index.shtml and
    -click on “Virtual Case File”
    -click on “Enter Virtual Case File”
    -enter 2010345, 0R 2010400 OR 2010132 in the space provided for “Case ID”
    -click “Search”
    -go to the last page of the list, then Scroll down the left column until you see “Initial Filing”
    -click on the file folder picture in the far left column of this line item and a new window will appear
    -click on the pdf symbol under the top right heading “View” it will take a couple of seconds to come up with a copy of the Complaint

    If you want to file a comment with one of these cases and have it shown here with the complaint you would have to send a certified letter to the address below and reference that case number on your letter.

    Karen Geraghty, Administrative Director
    Maine Public Utilities Commission
    18 State House Station 18
    Augusta, ME 04333

    Re: Case Number 2010-400 or 2010-345 or 2010-132

    It’s so hard to believe that these people think they can force these meters on us and expose our families to serious health, security and fire risk. I feel like I’m in a communist country!

  3. Dell,Karen says:

    I am renting an apartment and right outside my front door are 4 Smart Meters for the whole complex.This is a huge concern to me.What can I do?

    • Hi Karen- Demand the CPUC and your utility remove the meters and don’t take no for an answer- take it to the governor! Campaign for change- hand out 1000 flyers! Get an electrician to remove the meters for you- talk to your landlord and get him involved- make him aware that he incurs liability for the damage caused by the meters.

  4. Joe Rizzo says:

    Read and act on the following re our PUC.

    California Public Utilities Commission
    See who “Supports” THEM Regarding
    SMART METERS
    DON’T E-Mail (too EZ for an Intern to DELETE)
    SEND A POST CARD…
    EVERY ONE THAT HANDLES SEES IT & READS IT

    The Most Important People You Have Never Heard Of
    ShareThis
    President, Michael R. Peevey
    California Public Utilities Commission
    Appointed by: Governor Gray Davis in March 2002
    Reappointed by: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
    Term: December 2008 – 2014
    • From 1990 – 1993 Michael Peevey was President of Edison International and Southern California Edison Company and a senior executive beginning in 1984.
    • Mr. Peevey was and continues to be a strong advocate for electricity deregulation. After leaving So Cal Edison he started his own Electric Service Provider (ESP), NewEnergy Inc., then the nation’s largest energy service provider. In 1999 he sold it for about $100 million to AES Corp. of Arlington, VA, one of the biggest non-utility power generators operating in California. AES Corp is also a major coal utility and coal utility and coal mining company.
    • Peevey sits on many boards, he is chairman of the California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF) with Ralph Cavanagh (Vice Chairman), and Art Rosenfeld from the California Energy Commission (CEC).

    – CalCEF is a $30 million nonprofit venture capital fund formed in 2004. The Fund arose in the wake of the California electricity crisis (which was a result of deregulation that Peevey and Cavanagh both strongly pushed for) and the ensuing bankruptcy settlement negotiated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).
    – CalCEF’s initial funding of $30 million comes from PG&E shareholders.
    – One of the controversial investments CalCEF has made has been with CoalTek’s coal projects.
    • From 2000 – 2002 Peevey sat on Excelergy Corporation’s board of directors. Excelergy is a developer in software technology for the global energy/utility industry.

    ________________________________________

    Commissioner, Dian M. Grueneich
    California Public Utilities Commission
    Appointed by: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
    Term: January 2005 -2011
    • Dian Grueneich was a former staff counsel with the California Energy Commission (CEC) from 1977-1982.
    • In 1986 she founded Grueneich Resource Advocates (GRA), her own law and consulting firm. One of GRA’s clients included the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
    • She served on the Board of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

    – ACEEE s a nonprofit, organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection.
    – ACEEE is funded by a number of private companies, nonprofit organizations, utilities, and state agencies;
    – PG&E, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, and So Cal Edison.
    – The CEC, which she was a former staff counsel to.
    – The Union of Concerned Scientists.
    – Nexant, a provider of specialized software products and engineering and consulting services to the energy and petrochemical industries, also funds ACEEE.
    – Nexant acquired Excelergy January 2009. Peevey was a board director to Excelergy until 2002 – In 2008, the ACEEE awarded her the Champion of Energy Efficiency Award.
    • Grueneich was also past president on the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV) board.

    ________________________________________

    Commissioner, John Bohn
    California Public Utilities Commission
    Appointed by: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
    Term: May 2005 – 2011
    • John Bohn was managing director of the public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller, from 1997 to 1998.

    – Burson-Marsteller has done work with nuclear power, coal, petroleum, and electric utilities.
    – In 1993 Burson-Marsteller led a $1.8 million campaign to defeat President Clinton’s proposed BTU tax on fossil fuels, the centerpiece of Clinton’s plan to combat global warming.
    – Their clients also included Philip-Morris and Blackwater USA.
    – J. William Ichord, Sempra Energy’s vice president of government relations was the former vice president of Burson-Marsteller.
    • From 1997 to 2000 Bohn was co-founder and executive chairman of CheMatch.com (now ChemConnect Inc. of Houston), an internet-based petrochemical trading exchange.
    • John Bohn has been chairman of GlobalNet Venture Partners since 2001, the global financial advising and consulting firm, which invests in information technology startups.

    – Doug Heller, from the Santa Monica – based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, stated that Bohn “has a clear conflict of interest with his current firm.” He says that one of Bohn’s 2005 clients at GlobalNet was working on software to compile energy data that could be used by traders like the sort who contributed to the 2000-01 energy crisis.
    • Sits on the executive committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    ________________________________________

    Commissioner, Rachelle Chong
    California Public Utilities Commission
    Appointed by: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
    Term: January 2006
    Reappointed by: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
    Term: December 2008 – 2014

    • From 1994 to 1997, Rachelle Chong served as a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
    • In 1997 she returned to private practice as a partner with Coudert Brothers, which filled for bankruptcy in 2006.

    – Caudert Brothers represented virtually the entire coal industry in the United States in seeking to have export taxes like the Harbor Maintenance Tax overturned.
    – The international law firm represented oil company investments for off-shore drilling in Chinese waters.
    • Lenny Goldberg, executive director of the California Tax Reform Association (CTRA), a nonprofit based in Sacramento, believes Chong’s actions should disqualify her from becoming a CPUC commissioner. Goldberg says, “She abused the process on behalf of a special interest.”

    – She has pushed through major telecommunications deregulation, rejecting all claims that the major carriers still have monopoly power.
    – Melissa Kasnitz from the non-profit, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), says Chong has consistently advocated for the largest players in the telecommunication industry, and has not taken any steps to protecting the interests of vulnerable consumers.
    • Commissioner Chong and Commissioner Simon both traveled to Japan in 2007 with the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy (CFEE), a San Francisco-based non-profit institution.

    – CFEE is funded by companies such as AT&T, Chevron, Sempra Energy and Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
    – Amy Lynd Luers from the Union of Concerned Scientists is also on their board of directors.
    – The $10,000 per-person trip is described as “lavish.”
    – Carmen Balber of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights said there is no question that these trips allow private companies to “wine and dine lawmakers.”

    ________________________________________

    Commissioner, Timothy Alan Simon
    California Public Utilities Commission
    Appointed by: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
    Term: February 2007
    • Prior to his appointment to the CPUC, Timothy Simon had financial troubles.

    – Press reports cite court documents showing Commissioner Simon filed for bankruptcy in federal court in Oakland in 2002, when he owed more than $82,000. Included in his list of creditors was the Internal Revenue Service, to which he owed $17,000, and the state of California, which was owed $2,504.
    He also owed more than $17,000 in child support.
    – He owed more than $20,000 to a law firm. The debt may have stemmed from a lengthy divorce.
    • In January 2008 Commissioner Simon, solicited donations from companies he regulated to help pay for a nonprofit conference on green energy hosted by San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, documents and interviews show.

    – About the same time Simon was raising money from the utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. were petitioning the PUC to increase bonuses in an energy-efficiency program the commission had established a few months earlier.
    – Two weeks after the conference, the three most generous corporate donors to the Willie L. Brown Jr. Institute on Politics and Public Service — each of which gave at least $50,000 — won PUC agreement to change a new energy-efficiency program as the companies had requested.
    – The commission’s energy-efficiency program rewards utilities for investing in efficient equipment and taking steps to help customers conserve fuel. Originally, the panel allowed utilities that met 85% or more of their goals to collect bonuses. In the amended rules, the commission lowered the threshold so those meeting more than 65% of their goals would qualify for financial rewards of as much as $176 million, according to PUC spokeswoman Terrie Prosper.
    – Before the change, companies achieving 65% to 85% of the goals would receive no bonuses. Those that do not exceed 65% of the goals will face penalties, as they did in the original plan, starting at $144 million.
    – Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric agreed to be “platinum sponsors,” those donating $50,000 or more, according to conference

  5. Tiffany says:

    I am currently trying to get Yorba Linda residents to wake up by handing out hand printed information and a few sites that they can go to for more information about the smart meter. I get discouraged by the amount of people that have turned me away, but I am going door to door trying to get support to stop the smart meter. From what I gather, PG&E only tested one meter in a controlled situation to get eh results they wanted. They did no safety tests in regards to the consumers that are having this installed, but are citing a few choice FCC reports to safety of Radio Frequency Radiation and the lack of non-ionized radiation information that has been accepted by the FCC. The FCC is not regulating this device and public documentation has shown that these meters are way above FCC limitations.

    Please, if you are an Orange County, CA resident contact me at the above website, also noted here:https://www.facebook.com/tiffanyme001 I would be glad to talk to you in regards to any information you would like, as well as we can bond together to get more research done on the Smart Meters.

    Currently, So Cal Edison has no opt out feature, although CPUC ordered an opt out option. I am currently in contact with my city council, mayor, senate representative, county board, Edison, etc.

    The power of one is great, the power of many is many times greater.=)

  6. Rob says:

    All I can say is, unless you are living in the desert burning wood for energy, riding a donkey to get around you are a poser.
    EMF is everywhere, cell towers, anything electrical battery powered or powered from a utility or a generator has EMF. RF is everywhere, it comes from satellites in space, radio and tv transmissions, once again cell phones, short wave radios, cordless anything, baby monitors.
    The funny thing is that every car today produces more EMF than anything you have in your household and just think you are locked in that metal capsule that does not absorb it or allow it to dissipate into the environment.
    Yes, we don’t always have choices in what companies do to innovate. Though we do have the ability to be educated and change our lifestyles and environments to conform with our beliefs. The deserts of South America are the freest locations on earth, nearly void of EMF and RF, the true believes should move there, give up their technology and ride a donkey off into the sunset knowing that they bought themselves lesser impacts from the EMF and RF that surrounds modern societies

  7. Conrad Hild says:

    Interactive smart meter complaints map now available at
    http://smartmetercomplaints.org/nometerUSA.html

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