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Actions Being Taken: What Are Consumers Doing To Protect Their Civil Liberties and Affirm Their Rights to Refuse or Opt Out?

3.  Actions Being Taken:
What Are Consumers Doing
To Protect Their Civil Liberties
and Affirm Their Rights to Refuse or Opt Out?

Man Refuses Smart Meter

Choosing to refuse or opt out of wireless smart meters is not frivolous.  A growing number of communities are taking action to halt, suspend or ban the adoption of wireless smart meters.

To protect themselves and uphold their rights, consumers and consumer advocate groups are leading protests, boycotts,
putting up No Smart Meter signs on their homes and meters, speaking at meetings to educate and inform others, asking their city councils and county board of supervisors to halt the installation of wireless smart meters in their communities, and asking their local and county officials to support AB37 that would allow consumers the right to opt out.  Some ratepayers are putting protective cages around their smart meters, locking them up, others have made sure their guard dogs are in their backyard, and yet others are telling their installers to go away.  Here are a few related stories about this:

Twin Cities Times: "Outsmarting Smartmeters," January 18, 2011, http://www.marinscope.com/articles/2011/01/18/twin_cities_times/news/doc4d36357c94bc8508245811.txt

KTVU, "Grandmother Arrested During PG&E SmartMeter Protest," January 11, 2011, http://www.ktvu.com/news/26460466/detail.html

Pacific Sun,SmartMeter installers stalled by Inverness protesters, Arrests in West Marin," December 29, 2010, http://www.pacificsun.com/news/show_story.php?id=2604

New York Times, "Calif. County Criminalizes Smart-Meter Installations," January 5, 2011,  http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/01/05/05greenwire-calif-county-criminalizes-smart-meter-installa-66649.html

Maroondah Leader: "Ringwood pensioner's dogs scare off installers," February 11, 2011,

KSBW Video News Report, "Marina Apartment Owner Tells PG&E To Keep Out," February 11, 2011, http://www.ksbw.com/video/26840677/detail.html?taf=mty

Central Coast Tea Party: "Electrical Box Protector," http://mocotp.com/posts/electrical-box-protector

Neighorhood Wants Smart Meter Free Zone

California, USA:
In California, 30 cities and counties have adopted resolutions, ordinances, or measures to oppose or outlaw smart meters in their communities, and have sent letters to the California Public Utilities Commission and/or signed on to supporting Assembly Bill 37, which would allow consumers the right to opt out. 

Calling for a moratorium, a ban, or opposing Smart Meters are: The Utility Reform Network (TURN), Calif. State Senator Dean Florez, the City and County of San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Marin County Board of Supervisors, Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, the cities of Sebastopol, Berkeley, Cotati, Fairfax, Santa Cruz, Piedmont, Scotts Valley, Capitola, Watsonville, Sausalito, Belvedere, Monte Sereno, Novato, Richmond, Ross, Bolinas, Camp Meeker, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Marin Association of Realtors and The EMF Safety Network. 

Residents and local officials aren't the only ones calling for consumer choice -- so are newspaper editors:

Marin Independent Journal, "Editorial: PG&E should give customers a choice on SmartMeters," Marin Independent Journal Editorial, January 9, 2011, http://www.marinij.com/opinion/ci_17038541

Scroll down below to "Other Forms and Documents" to read recent news reports and measures taken by some of these cities and counties.

Also visit the websites of Stop Smart Meters Now (http://stopsmartmeters.wordpress.com/) and  the EMF Safety Network's http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?page_id=872, and http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?page_id=649) for the latest developments on smart meter news and events in California.

Contact the EMF Safety Network to join their campaign: http://emfsafetynetwork.org.

Also read the documents filed with for the CPUC Proceeding No. A1004018, with PG&E and EMF Safety Network: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/published/proceedings/A1004018.htm

Contact Smart Meters Now to join their work, too: http://stopsmartmeters.wordpress.com/how-you-can-stop-smart-meters/

California Assemblyman Jared Huffman on Dec. 6, 2010 also introduced legislation, Assembly Bill 37, that would offer residents the ability to opt out.

Assembly Bill 37, introduced by Assemblymember Huffman, directs the California Public Utilities Commission to determine alternatives for customers who do not wish to have a smart meter installed. The legislation also directs utilities to disclose important information about the smart meters to consumers, including the timing, magnitude, frequency and duration of radio frequency emissions so that individual consumers can make informed decisions.

Read the press release: "Huffman Introduces New Bill Addressing Consumer Concerns with Smartmeters; AB 37 gives consumers an “opt-out” alternative to wireless Smartmeters, requires disclosures regarding the technology and performance of wireless meters,” December 6, 2010, http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/members/a06/newsroom/20101206AD06PR01.htm. 

You can also read the complete bill (AB 37) here: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_0001-0050/ab_37_bill_20101206_introduced.pdf.  And track its status here: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_0001-0050/ab_37_bill_20110124_status.html.      

Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) represents the 6th Assembly District, which encompasses southern Sonoma County and all of Marin County. First elected in 2006, Huffman chairs the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee and also serves as co-chair of the Legislative Environmental Caucus. For Assembly Member Jared Huffman’s website, go here: http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/members/a06/. 

However, AB37 needs 2/3 vote to pass, and has to get the approval of several committees before that. 

How to help? 

1.  E-mail your local Assembly Person go here, and ask him/her to Support Assembly Person Jared Huffman's AB 37: http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/acsframeset7text.htm

When writing your local Assembly Person, you can include this link referencing and explaining AB 37: http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/members/a06/newsroom/20101206AD06PR01.htm

Include reasons why you want them to support AB37, including health affects and/or concerns, privacy and security invasions, and civil liberty infringements, as well as any other concerns you have. Also ask for retroactive clause that will allow opt-outs for those who already have their SmartMeters installed.

The truth is: Wired advanced and smart metering options exist (via telephone line or fiber optic ethernet being used by commercial businesses, multi-residential units, and Chattanooga, TN's utility company's new smart metering system) so California consumers deserve and should have the right to a "smarter" choice and options. We are not reinventing the wheel.

2.  Also e-mail a Letter of Support, stating your support to Assembly Person Jared Huffman, c/o Lawrence Cooper, who is AP Huffman's legislative aide: lawrence.cooper@asm.ca.gov

Read sample letters here: https://sites.google.com/site/nocelltowerinourneighborhood/home/wireless-smart-meter-concerns/sample-letters-to-support-ab37

Arizona: Residents are complaining about getting sick from the newly installed wireless smart  meters.  A a resident in Mesa complained about getting ill from hers, and the utility came out and replaced it with a non-RF one. It's an Empower "pay-as-you-go" meter, which does not transmit wireless signals, and she said it doesn't make her sick!  Now that's an option, and two thumbs up to the local utility company that was able to come up with that win-win solution!

Read and watch the TV story here: KPHO-TV Channel 5 News, "Smart Meter Made Me Sick, Mesa Woman Claims; Loni Rosser Says Symptoms Cleared Up With Different Device," posted Feb. 21, 2011 and updated February 22, 2011: http://www.kpho.com/news/26946007/detail.html

For more information on the Empower meter, see http://www.geus.org/empower.htm

Connecticut:  State Attorney General George Jepsen blasts the proposed smart (aka advanced) meter program by Connecticut Light & Power, and asks the DPUC deny the proposal.   He also believe such meters should only be given to those who ask for them and want to pay for them!  Hurrah. 

Just last week, George Jepsen, Connecticut’s Attorney General, denounced Connecticut Light & Power’s AMI proposal, which said the new meters would cost more than $430 million but would save customers more than $550 million over a 20-year period...

“CL&P’s proposal would force the company’s ratepayers to spend at least $500 million on new meters that are likely to provide few benefits in return,” Jepsen said in a brief filed with the state’s Department of Public Utility Control. Instead he called for waiting and watching until something better and more cost-effective came along.

The utility argues that waiting to replace its AMR meters with more advanced technology will only make the change more expensive down the road, and that the cost of maintaining the current system is more than that of a new deployment.

Jepsen’s argument is not about now versus five years from now, nor is it about exploring different communications systems or pricing schemes. Instead, he calls for a “surgical” approach throughout the brief, where meters are only given to those who ask, and can pay, for them.

Instead of demanding that CL&P pay for far more of the deployment, as was mandated after Baltimore Gas & Electric’s initial smart grid proposal was rejected (and later accepted), Jepsen’s letter asks the DPUC to simply deny the proposal.

Source: "Attorney Generals Lash Out Against Utilities; Some AGs aren’t looking to haggle over smart grid details—they just want to put up a roadblock," February 17, 2011: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/attorney-generals-lash-out-against-utilities/

Jepsen challenges the estimated cost benefits, and says the proposed smart metering program would be very expensive and would not save enough electricity for its 1.2 million customers to justify the expense.

“CL&P’s proposal would force the company’s ratepayers to spend at least $500 million on new meters that are likely to provide few benefits in return,” Jepsen said. He urged the regulators to “continue to evaluate emerging meter system technologies as well as other conservation programs” and only approve installation of the advanced meters when they are cost effective.

To evaluate the technical capabilities and reliability of the advanced metering system, state regulators previously approved a limited study of 10,000 meters. Between June 1 and Aug. 31, 2009, CL&P tested the meters on 1,251 residential and 1,186 small commercial and industrial customers, who volunteered and were paid for their participation in the study. The company reported its results to the DPUC on Feb. 25, 2010.

“The pilot results showed no beneficial impact on total energy usage,” Jepsen said. “And, the savings that were seen in the pilot were limited to certain types of customers and would be far outweighed by the cost of installing the new meter systems,” he said.

Also, the existing meters, installed between 1994 and 2005, have a useful life of 20 years and replacing them early would incur additional costs for customers, Jepsen said.

Source: "AG Jepsen Opposes CL&P Plan For High Tech Meters," February 8, 2011: 
Also read: Press release from AG's office, February 8, 2011: http://www.ct.gov/ag/lib/ag/press_releases/2011/020811clpmeters.pdf
Assistant Attorneys General Michael C. Wertheimer and John S. Wright are representing Jepsen before the DPUC.

Maine: In Maine, residents and three communities are also asking to opt out of the wireless smart meters, and the State Public Utilities Commission has agreed to explore options.  Most recently, Maine's governor and legislators are also supporting the right to opt out!

The Forecaster, "LePage, legislators back opt-outs for CMP's 'smart' meter customers," Mar. 1, 2011: http://www.theforecaster.net/content/pnms-smartmeters-030211

The Portland Press Herald, "Informal talks seek smart-meter solution; The issues are whether it is feasible for CMP customers with concerns to opt out, and who would pay the extra cost," posted March 1, 2011, updated March 2, 2011: http://www.pressherald.com/news/informal-talks-seek-smart-meter-solution_2011-03-01.html

Lakes Region Weekly, “Windham woman decries 'smart meter' installation,” December 16, 2010: http://www.keepmecurrent.com/lakes_region_weekly/news/article_2c5601d0-094d-11e0-ab1e-001cc4c002e0.html

The Portland Press Herald: Maine PUC to seek flexibility in installation of smart meters:  The decision gives hope to those who believe the wireless devices put in by CMP pose a health hazard, January 27, 2011:  http://www.pressherald.com/business/puc-to-seek-flexibility-in-smart-meter-installation_2011-01-05.html

In New Mexico: Consumers who are concerned about ill effects from smart meters can get a medical waiver from their physician that utility companies there are supposed to honor until the state regulatory agency decides how to address this concern.

Why Fry?: “How to File a Medical/Security Waiver NOW to keep a “Smart Meter” from your home,” September 4, 2010: http://whyfry.org/how-to-file-a-medical-waiver-now-to-keep-smart-meter-from-your-home/

For websites and links to resident campaigns in states outside of California:



DISCUSSION OF MAIN CONCERNS: Read these and helpful information about the wireless smart meter issue -- click each of the discussion items below. 

1.  First and Foremost: Are Wireless Meters Mandatory?

2.  Smart Meters Unite Consumers, Citizens and Residents from Opposite Backgrounds and Political Affiliations

3.  Actions Being Taken: What Are Consumers Doing To Protect Their Civil Liberties and Affirm Their Rights to Refuse or Opt Out?

4.  Going Deep: Understanding the Big Picture and Real Costs and Concerns, Helpful News Reports and Consumer Advocacy Reports and Analysis

5.  Smart Meter Consumers Anger Grows Over Higher Utility Bills

6.  Privacy and Security Concerns Still Unresolved

7.  Health Concerns Grow: Consumers Are Getting Sick From Wireless Smart Meters

8.  Consumers Report Public Safety Hazards and Interference Problems

9. Cities and States Outside of California Pull Back

10. Resident Campaigns In Other States

11. Options

12. Lessons Learned: What's Happened in Australia

13. Lessons Learned: Major Problems for Canada

14. Actions You Can Take & Other Helpful Organizations and Websites