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Still Not Smart

Don't let PG&E charge extra to opt out of smart meters

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

We are very concerned about three matters regarding the opt-out program for PG&E smart meters: opt-out fees, which have been misrepresented as already set-in-stone in letters and phone calls from PG&E; smart meters at multiple-dwelling complexes; and the long overdue need for hearings on the health and safety risks of smart meters.

The penalty charges for those of us who choose to opt out are unjust. (In a petition campaign held in August 2010, 83 percent of Burbank Heights residents chose to opt out. Copies of our petitions were sent.) How can we be charged for the removal of smart meters that have never been installed in the first place and for the removal of smart meters installed without our permission? 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 smart meters at multiple dwellings such as Burbank Heights is folly. Here, the meters are together in banks, which constitute a wall of electromagnetic frequency (EMF) fields on each building and are adjacent to someone's bedroom in each building. Installing smart meters will increase the EMFs throughout the entire complex by an alarming amount.

The time has come to look into the health and safety issues related to smart meters, because until these matters have been addressed, we respectfully decline to be made guinea pigs for PG&E's profit.

If you agree with these points, please let the CPUC know at California Public Utilities Commission, 505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco.

Deanne Thompson is a resident of Burbank Heights in Sebastopol.

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the Bohemian. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write openmic@bohemian.com.

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