Thursday, April 12, 2012
On Feb. 1, the state Public Utilities Commission approved Pacific Gas & Electric’s proposal to let residential customers reject the wireless SmartMeters being installed across the company’s territory.
That same day, PG&E sent letters to the 90,000 customers on its “delay list” – people who postponed their SmartMeter installations pending the PUC decision – outlining the terms of the new opt-out program.
For a $75 setup charge and a $10 monthly meter-reading fee (lower for low-income customers), they can keep their analog electric and gas meters.
PG&E spokesman Greg Snapper says 716 of 168,000 Monterey County customers have already asked to opt out. That’s less than half of 1 percent, but it’s still four times the rate for the company’s 16 million Northern and Central California residential customers.
Among them is Monterey resident Nina Beety. She worries SmartMeters interfere with electronics, introduce cyber-security issues, increase fire risks and pose serious health hazards.
The opt-out program is better than nothing, she says, but isolated analog meters won’t make much of a difference. “We’re definitely getting radiation from our neighbors’ [SmartMeters],” she says. “Everywhere I go, I’m exposed to this.”
Snapper says Smart-Meters help lower bills, shorten power-outage response times and integrate renewable energy sources.
“You have some customers who prefer not to have SmartMeters, and we want to honor that preference,” he says. “On the other hand, we strongly believe in our program and its benefits to our customers.”
PG&E asks opt-out customers to visit www.pge.com/smartmeteroptout or call 1-866-743-0263 by May 1.