FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contacts: Josh Hart, Director, Stop Smart Meters!
Thursday February 26th, 2015
PG&E SUGGESTED “PROZAC” FOR THOSE INJURED BY SMART METERS– SCE SCHEMED HIGHER FEES TO FORCE SMART METERS ON THE POOR
New e-mails brought to light between Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) reveal the extent of corruption and backroom dealing that have characterized the state’s smart meter program. E-mails reveal that former CPUC President Michael Peevey was aware of health problems caused by smart meters early on in the program, and that commissioners and staff themselves experienced overcharging and electronic interference issues with smart meters. Meanwhile, utilities schemed with regulators behind the scenes to raise opt-out fees to force people in poverty to stick with the unpopular meters as a means to prop up the failing multi-billion dollar smart grid program in California.
Former CPUC President Michael Peevey, who retired in December and is currently the subject of a criminal probe by the U.S. Attorney and State Attorney General who are investigating allegations of bribery and corruption, assured the public that the meters were accurate, were no fire hazard, and no threat to health. A different picture has emerged from initial research into more than 120,000 e-mails and memos between CPUC and PG&E. Peevey wrote to PG&E in September of 2010 (emphasis ours):
“There really are people who feel pain, etc., related to EMF,etc., and rather than have them become hysterical, etc., I would quietly leave them alone. Kick it around.”
In another e-mail from 2010, Peevey’s Chief of Staff Carol Brown writes to PG&E:
“…so far I have done OK just listening to the sad tales of EMF poisoning – and telling them thank you for bringing it to our attention – and then not offering them any solution!!! I just wanted to have a resource in case!”
Brian Cherry, VP of Regulatory Relations at PG&E replies:
“Prozac might be a solution!”
Suggesting that people take pharmaceuticals to treat health problems caused by the company’s meters is unspeakably arrogant, dangerous, and corrupt. The only thing that has consistently helped people suffering health effects from EMF has been the removal of smart meters and other nearby wireless transmitters. And the utilities knew it. But to officially have smart meters removed, the CPUC under Peevey, required Californians to pay an upfront fee and monthly charge starting in January 2012.
In public, the utilities and CPUC have justified the $75 initially and $10/ month fees for analog meters (to have the same thing that customers have always had) by arguing that individuals should pay for the costs they create. In private however, a different story emerges. In e-mails between California utilities and Marzia Zafar, CPUC’s current Director of Policy and Planning, a 15 year utility industry employee including 4 years as a So Cal Gas lobbyist who was involved in the Bill Devereaux Spy Scandal, Zafar tells the utilities:
“I think if there is not an initial fee your estimate of 2% opt out goes out the door and you’ll have more like 20% or 50% opt out which will then make the whole project that we spent over $7 billion on a complete and total waste.”
Zafar is saying if they eliminate the initial opt out charge for analog meters, up to half of California’s electric customers may refuse smart meters, given all the publicity around safety and inaccuracy problems, and that needs to be avoided at all costs – by ensuring fees remain unaffordable. This e-mail demonstrates clearly that the opt out fee is intended not to “cover costs” but to suppress choice, prop up a failing and dangerous smart grid and penalize people for disobeying a forced, corporate and undemocratic deployment.
Making it more difficult for those in poverty to opt out seemed to be a particular priority for Southern California Edison, Peevey’s former employer. Many low-income customers live in apartment buildings where banks of smart meters expose residents to high levels of pulsed RF radiation that the World Health Organization considers a Class 2B Carcinogen. “CARE” is a reduced utility rate program for families living below the federal poverty line. In January 2012, Michael Hoover of SCE wrote to Zafar of CPUC and Cherry of PG&E:
“We need an up front fee that is significant, or a path to achieve that. This is especially true for CARE customers. This is a big deal for us and I think the potential for significant increases in opt out is rather large if the fee is set too low. Are we all on the same page?”
It turns out Marzia Zafar knew from personal experience that there were serious problems with the meters. She wrote in January 2011 to PG&E:
“I’m also copying Cliff to this e-mail as I spoke with him this morning; he came to my house :-). I have a smart meter and a motion light interference that is hopefully now resolved.”
According to the LA Times, when a smart meter was installed on former CPUC President Michael Peevey’s 3118 sq. foot second home in Sea Ranch on the Sonoma County coast (where Peevey and PG&E’s VP of Regulatory Relations Brian Cherry shared bottles of Johnny Walker Blue Label according to e-mails) Peevey’s bills went through the roof and he complained to PG&E in November 2011:
“Please check something out for me. Just had a “smart meter” installed at Sea Ranch. And, now I have the bill for the first month. Something is screwy. The bill says we used 973 KWH versus 438 for the same time period one year ago. Yet, there was no one at the house during the most recent 30 day period. Nor was there anyone there one year ago. Obviously something is wrong. I would like an explanation.”
Apparently Peevey wasn’t the only Commissioner who reported significant overcharging. PG&E wrote in an e-mail that two commissioners in one night complained about inaccuracies on their bills after smart meters were installed.
While CPUC officials privately grappled with problems caused by smart meters at their own homes, publicly they denied these problems existed despite thousands of complaints to the contrary confirming these were systemic problems. An unfair and extortionate opt out policy was approved in violation of the CA Public Utility Code, charging customers hundreds of dollars a year to protect their safety. Thousands still refuse to pay this extortion.
According to Josh Hart, Director of the Grassroots anti-smart meter group Stop Smart Meters!, “Those responsible for this criminal activity should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and the California legislature needs to do its job and hold hearings to get to the bottom of these criminal relationships that have cost Californians their lives. All redacted e-mails must immediately be made public. Peevey and company should be put behind bars.”
Special Thanks to the following groups for ongoing collaborative research efforts that have led to the discovery of these e-mails:
EMF Safety Network, Sebastopol, CA
Center for Electrosmog Prevention, La Mesa, CA
Ecological Options Network, Bolinas, CA