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, 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.”  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.
The recent Interphone study, a 10-year international study on the safety of cell phones, identified a connection between cell phone use and glioma. 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. 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. 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
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
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
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.
Director, Scotts Valley Neighbors Against Smart Meters