Concerns over electromagnetic radiation have already stopped companies from installing cell-phone antennas in the Bay Area, but the latest bogey man are PG&E's SmartMeters.
Because the devices emit short bursts of radio signal in order to communicate with the larger utility data network, they've been resisted by people who complain over "electro-hypersensitivy," a condition that is not recognized by the vast majority of medical professionals.
Earlier complaints about SmartMeters focused on customer billing, and the California Public Utilities Commission has hired an independent auditor to check on the accuracy of meter reading and data transmission.
By communicating with utilities wirelessly, the meters can transmit usage data to better allocate energy resources, ultimately making the utility grid more energy-efficient and therefore reducing carbon emissions from natural gas-powered plants in California.
The electromagnetic radiation is of the non-ionizing variety, however, similar to the waves of infrared and ultraviolet lights that the evil sun shines on the earth every day.
But don't tell that to the people who are worried about invisible rays -- while the World Health Organization and the FCC agree that the meters are perfectly safe, detractors have the old "think of the children" argument and they're happy to use it.
Photo by Jim Herd.
Jackson West is as, if not more suspicious, of PG&E than the next guy, but finds this crazy.