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Opt-out program for PG&E SmartMeters - OpEd

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Opt-out program for PG&E SmartMeters - OpEd

No sooner had the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) granted customers the choice of opting-out of the SmartMeter program, then PG&E told its customers they would have to pay an up front fee and a monthly charge if they chose to Opt-Out.  We at Burbank Heights & Orchards in Sebastopol are circulating the following petition.  We hope, if you agree with us, that you will let the CPUC know.

We, the undersigned, are residents of Burbank Heights & Orchards (BH&O), 7777 Bodega Avenue, Sebastopol, CA  95472.  We address our following petition to the California Public Utilities Commission.  We are very concerned about three matters regarding the opt-out program for PG&E SmartMeters: Opt-out fees, misrepresented as already set in stone in letters and phone calls from PG&E; no SmartMeters at multiple-dwelling complexes;  and long overdue hearings on the health and safety risks of SmartMeters. 

- The penalty charges for those of us who chose to opt-out are unjust.  (In a petition campaign held in August 2010, 83% of BH&O residents chose to Opt-Out.  You received copies of our petitions.)  How can we be charged for the removal of SmartMeters that have never been installed in the first place, and for the removal of SmartMeters installed without permission?  Of the 16 apartment buildings at BH&O only one building, N, has had SmartMeters installed.  There are also two SmartMeters (gas and electric) installed on apartment G1.  No one knows when these were installed, but we believe it was sometime in early 2010.  There are no other SmartMeters installed at BH&O.  We should not have to pay $75 per customer to have them “removed”, nor do we think the monthly charge of $10 for opting out is at all fair or realistic.  That PG&E expects to be reimbursed a total of $2,000 for reading once a month some 400 meters concentrated in banks on our 16 buildings is unconscionable .  The new charges seem exorbitant and unfair. We already pay the base rates that have provided meter readers and other basic services like repairs. We are opposed to the new charges and urge the CPUC to disallow them. 

- The scatter-shot installation of SmartMeters at multiple dwellings such as BH&O is folly.  Here the meters are in banks (a minimum of 24 meters for buildings with 12 apartments and a minimum of 12 for buildings with six apartments).  These banks of meters constitute a wall of Electro Magnetic Frequency (EMF) fields on each building and are adjacent to someone’s bedroom in each building.  Installing  SmartMeters will increase the EMFs throughout the entire complex to an alarming amount.  As with all other matters SmartMeter, the multiple-dwelling EMF problem has not even been addressed.

- It appears that the health and safety issues of multiple-dwelling EMF have not ever been addressed. The time has come to do so because until those matters have been ascertained, we respectfully decline to be made guinea pigs for PG&E's profit.

As an elder community we are alarmed at and opposed to the installation of  Smart-Meters in our senior apartment complex and believe that the CPUC needs to protect us by disallowing both their installation and the imposition of new fees.

If you agree with these points, please let the CPUC know at:  California Public Utilities Commission,  505 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, California 94102;  1-866-849-8390;  Fax: 415-703-1758; public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov

Submitted by Deanne Thompson, resident Burbank Heights, Sebastopol