A film, entitled “Take Back Your Power,” will be shown at the High Desert Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 10, at 6:30 p.m. The public is welcome to attend the showing to learn more about the Smart Meter program, and how it isn’t just about the power grid. There are health, safety and privacy issues at stake.
Here is a little history on the issue of Smart Meters and legal action taken by several groups.
A consumer rights coalition headquartered in Santa Barbara fought for all Californians, over health and safety issues reported from using Southern California Edison (SCE) smart meters. The fight grabbed the attention of media and elected officials, leading to an historic pro-consumer ruling.
Smart Meter complaints included bruising, huge electric bills, disabling radiation sickness, fried appliances and wiring, fires, and other hazards.
A similar opt-out decision was previously ruled on, forcing PG&E in northern California to offer opt-outs.
The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted in favor of Consumers Power Alliance, and ordered Southern California Edison (SCE) to provide an Opt-Out option for their customers. The decision was made in April, and affects SCE’s approximately 11 million customers, following 11 months of legalities that included a workshop, pleadings and hearings regarding the PG&E Opt-Out Plan, which ultimately became the template for the SCE Plan.
It was not an easy battle for the grassroots organization. SCE initially balked at changing the mandatory program to one that allowed customers to have their say. Over the course of the proceedings, the wireless smart meters became increasingly unpopular, as more customers complained.
More and more California communities took action. Citing unresolved health and safety concerns, the civic leaders of 55 California communities notified the CPUC that they wanted the utilities to offer Opt-Outs for the protection of their residents.
Highlights of the SCE plan include permanent opt-outs “for any and no reason” and retention of the customer’s current analog meter, or, if already removed, restoration of their old meter.
Typical of big business and government, consumers will have to bear the cost of opting-out of the smart meter program. Also, SCE is trying to convince people not to opt-out by showing that they won’t have access to special programs such as 24/7 access to usage information, Budget Assistance alerts, Bill-to-Date, Projected Next Bill, Save Power Day Incentives, and Remote Activation (mostly “convenience” items, that don’t really save energy or money).
In addition to denying these programs to those who opt-out, they will also be charged extra for set-up and metering of the old equipment.
Approval was given for SCE to charge interim fees of $75 for set-up and $10 per month for meter reading, (CARE fees: $10 set-up, $5 /month, & 3 month installment plan for set-up fee). Per the decision, a Phase 2 Hearing will be held to determine final fees, viability of community opt-outs and more.
Passage of the SCE Opt-Out Plan closes the six-month long Delay Install Program, where customers could stop installation with a simple telephone call. The utility is now permitted to install free of restrictions. The CPUC has directed the utility to provide customers with Opt-Out Service if they do not yet have a smart meter, or if they already have it and want their old meter back.
Knowledge is Power
Your utility company is counting on you to be complacent.
Find out about health & privacy issues surrounding Smart Meters
Identify Your Meter
Determine if you have a smart meter & learn about smart meter “opt-out”
Take Action!Locally, we are several years into a smart meter program but have not made significant progress to stop them. Learn more about it….
10 Questions for Your Utility Company:
1. Am I legally required to have a Smart Meter installed? No
2. Can I expect my utility bills to go up with a Smart Meter? Yes
3. Do Smart Meters violate 4th Amendment rights of unlawful search and seizure in my own home? Yes
4. Is it true my info is sold to 3rd Party companies? Yes
5. Do Smart Meters help the environment & energy reduce usage? No
6. Have there been fires where Smart Meters are installed? Yes
7. Are there any known health effects with Smart Meters? Yes
8. How many pulses of radiation do they emit? 5,000 – 190,000 per day
9. Have Smart Meters been proven to be safe? No
10. Are utilities getting financial kickbacks for installing them? Yes