Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Letter to the Press Democrat: PG&E Smart Meters vs. Sebastopol

Posted on March 9, 2013 by admin
PG&E met with the Press Democrat (PD) editorial board last week regarding Sebastopol’s ban on Smart Meters. Following that meeting the PD printed two misinformed editorials, both heavy handed against Sebastopol.
Chris Coursey in “Feeling Sorry for Goliath” writes, “Meter readers are threatened with citations and fines for doing their jobs.” This is wrong. Only installers have been warned not to deploy Smart Meters in Sebastopol. Meter readers love Sebastopol because they still have a job.
Coursey writes, “Sebastopol seems to be getting pulled around by the nose by a small group of anti-technology folks known as the Electromagnetic Field Safety Network.” Our name is the EMF Safety Network and we are not anti-technology. We advocate the use of precaution with electromagnetic fields (EMF’s) and radiofrequency radiation (RF) (wireless), and advocate corded and wired alternatives to protect public health and the environment. Our work is based on decades of science.
According to Coursey 10% of Sebastopol has opted out of Smart Meters. That means there are hundreds of people in Sebastopol that are concerned enough about Smart Meter hazards to pay PG&E’s extortion fees not to have them.
Coursey states the World Health Organization (WHO) says there’s no evidence of harm. Wrong again. In May of 2011 the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the WHO, classified wireless as a 2b carcinogen, same as DDT and lead.
Coursey says Sebastopol is rethinking its moratorium. The city manager stated there was “zero consideration” of repealing the ordinance.
In the other article, “Let’s not wage war on PG&E workers”, the editor stated Helen Burt, PG&E’s chief customer officer said, “we don’t want to be at war with our communities”.
PG&E threatened a lawsuit against Sebastopol, refused to mark gas lines, and halted commercial work, including the $23 million Barlow project. These are strong-arm tactics and intimidation.
PG&E has been at war with many communities over the last three years. Since 2009 more than 50 California local jurisdictions have opposed Smart Meters, and fifteen have made the deployment illegal. Supervisor Carrillo asked for a moratorium, safety studies and a free opt-out. The PD even called for a moratorium!
PG&E responded by accelerating Smart Meter deployment and forcing installations, without informed consent or full disclosure about how the meters work, and what they are capable of, including surveillance and profiling. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is already discussing how to access the data Smart Meters collect and how to make it available to third parties.
In 2009, Bakersfield residents complained about skyrocketing bills and PG&E defended their Smart Meters as accurate. Two years later PG&E admitted billing errors due to Smart Meter defects.
In 2010, PG&E said Smart Meters transmit radiation once an hour. In 2011, the CPUC ordered PG&E to provide the specifications and PG&E admitted Smart Meters can transmit up to 190,000 times a day!
The head of PG&E’s Smart Meter program was caught trying to  infiltrate our group by lying about his identity. The CPUC safety division investigated and found the spying was a system wide problem within PG&E.
PG&E and the CPUC have refused to address Smart Meter health and fire safety impacts.
Feel sorry for PG&E? I don’t think so.
Sebastopol’s unanimous decision to ban Smart Meters is applauded by many people in Sebastopol and beyond. According to Sebastopol’s ordinance (available on their website), Smart Meter technology subjects residents to “privacy, security, health, accuracy and consumer fraud risks.”
It’s shameful the PD editors have been influenced by PG&E. The PD should be a source of accurate information, not more of PG&E’s disinformation.
Sandi Maurer
PO BOX 1016
Sebastopol CA 95473
On Mar 10, 2013, at 11:31 PM, Emf Refugees wrote:

For now, Sebastopol backs off SmartMeter ban

Posted by PD staff in Cities on March 7th, 2013 tags: ,
Sebastopol has temporarily stopped enforcing its recently-enacted moratorium on the installation of SmartMeters, citing shaky legal ground and the risk of being sued.
The development comes amid growing tensions over the city’s ordinance, including an incident last week in which police responded after a Sebastopol resident called 911 to report that a PG&E worker was installing a SmartMeter in violation of the moratorium, an act that carries a $500 penalty.
Smartmeter 3:2The worker left without being cited, said Larry McLaughlin, Sebastopol’s city manager and attorney.
PG&E responded by stopping all utility work in Sebastopol.
McLaughlin on Wednesday said he ordered the temporary halt to enforcement of the moratorium after the California Public Utilities Commission on Friday sent him a letter calling the ban “unlawful and unenforceable.”
The City Council hastily scheduled a closed session meeting Tuesday night to discuss the legality of the ordinance and whether it exposes the city to potential civil liabilities, McLaughlin said.
He said no actions were taken Tuesday and that the council is scheduled to revisit the issue at another closed session meeting set for 8:30 a.m. March 14 at City Hall.
SmartMeter opponents expressed dismay Wednesday at the city backing away from the moratorium. The city is ground zero for resistance to the devices, which critics fear can cause ailments ranging from cancer to headaches from exposure to the electromagnetic frequencies that the devices emit.
“Sebastopol needs to continue to stand up to CPUC and PG&E. The CPUC’s mission is to ensure safe and reliable utility service, and they have not proven that SmartMeters are safe,” said Sandi Maurer of Sebastopol, founder of the activist group EMF Safety Network.
McLaughlin and Sebastopol Police Chief Jeff Weaver met with senior PG&E officials Wednesday to discuss the SmartMeter controversy.
According to McLaughlin, the PG&E officials present included Sanford Hartman, a company vice president and managing director of law, and Cliff Gleicher, senior director of the SmartMeter program.
PG&E requested the meeting, according to McLaughlin, who declined to state specifically what the group discussed.
The meeting was the culmination of tensions sparked Feb. 21 by the City Council enacting the moratorium, effective immediately.
McLaughlin said a PG&E representative informed the city a day or two after the council acted that the company was going to challenge the moratorium in court.
Then earlier this week, McLaughlin said, PG&E said it was ceasing all operations in the city, including the marking of underground gas lines and work on the $23.5 million Barlow project, the city’s largest development project in years.
McLaughlin said at Wednesday’s meeting he requested PG&E resume “normal activities” in Sebastopol. However, he said the city is still asking that the company not install SmartMeters until the CPUC resolves whether communities, and not just individuals, can opt-out of getting the devices.
PG&E has 22,800 gas and electrical meters at homes and businesses in the Sebastopol area and has upgraded 7,500 of them to SmartMeters.
About 1,100 customers have opted out of the change, representing fewer than 10 percent of customers.
In a separate meeting with The Press Democrat’s editorial board Wednesday, Helen Burt, a senior vice president with PG&E and the company’s chief customer officer, said the utility has decided to halt installation of SmartMeters in Sebastopol until further notice.
She said she met with more than 100 PG&E employees in Santa Rosa Wednesday to discuss their concerns about being cited by the police or confronted by angry residents while working in Sebastopol.
She said the fact the police were called last week “didn’t sit well with our employees, who as you can imagine were doing their job.”
She said the employee who was visited by police last week was “doing routine maintenance work” on a “meter set” that may have not been related to SmartMeters.
McLaughlin said Weaver, however, informed PG&E officials Wednesday in their meeting at City Hall that the employee involved in last week’s incident had installed three SmartMeters that day and was working on his fourth when police were contacted.
Whatever the case, Burt said her concern is that Sebastopol residents will start calling the police on PG&E workers, some who call the city their home, for all kinds of things not related to SmartMeters.
She said she told employees she met with on Wednesday to be “situationally-aware” while they are working in the city.
“We may be calling law enforcement ourselves,” she said.
Burt said about 50 California communities have sought moratoriums on the SmartMeters, but she said only Sebastopol went the step of enforcing violations.
But she and other company officials on Wednesday struck a conciliatory tone. “We don’t want to be at war with our communities,” Burt said.
McLaughlin said Sebastopol “possibly” has taken a “more aggressive” stance toward SmartMeters. But he said that’s not a reason for PG&E to discontinue work unrelated to installation of the devices in the city.
“We can’t prevent citizens from getting upset, but the police will come on scene if that’s the case and we’ll sort it out,” he said.
He also made the case that the city’s moratorium should not be construed as a “forever thing” because it’s tied to the CPUC’s discussions about communities being able to opt-out of SmartMeters. But presumably Sebastopol leaders would consider a permanent ban should state power authorities give them that option.
Burt said PG&E is considering beefing up outreach in Sebastopol to inform residents of what the company is doing in the city and to provide information about the options residents have with regard to SmartMeters.
PG&E customers can opt-out of the program by calling 1-866-743-0263. They must pay a $75 setup charge as well as a $10 monthly fee, or $5 for those who meet certain income criteria.
A company spokeswoman later in the day Wednesday said that PG&E will continue gas line work in Sebastopol. Still undecided is to what degree the company will be operating in the city, however.
“It’s worth taking a step back and having these conversations before we determine next steps,” said Brittany McKannay with PG&E.


Brought to you by 

EMF Refugee: 
The International Coalition for an Electromagnetic Safe Planet (IC-ESP)