SmartMeter Opt Now Comes at a Price

You don't have to have a SmartMeter at your home, but it will cost you.

Thursday, Feb 2, 2012  |  Updated 7:18 AM PDT
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SmartMeter Opt Now Comes at a Price

Michale Coté

This is what all the fuss is about.

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Over boos and hisses from opponents of PG&E's SmartMeters, the California Public Utilities Commission today voted to impose fees on PG&E  customers who choose to opt out of the utility's SmartMeter program.

In a unanimous decision, the CPUC adopted a set of program  modifications, which allow PG&E to recover costs associated with replacing  SmartMeters or allowing customers to keep the older and more costly analog  devices.

SmartMeters are meant to help reduce energy consumption by  wirelessly monitoring usage, according to the CPUC.

The metering systems are being installed as part of a nationwide  "smart grid" in 25 states around the country, CPUC President Michael Peevey  said.

Opponents argue that the meters emit harmful electromagnetic  signals and even radiation, an argument that state and federal agencies say  is not backed by science.

Peevey quoted studies by the Federal Communications Commission and  the California Council on Science and Technology, which concluded that  potential negative health effects from SmartMeters had not been "identified  or confirmed."

Customers electing to keep analog meters will be assessed an  initial fee of $75 and a monthly charge of $10. Low-income customers can opt  out of the SmartMeter program for an initial fee of $10 and an ongoing  monthly charge of $5.

Speakers from across Northern California packed the commission  auditorium in San Francisco this morning, some demanding that the CPUC  reconsider charging fees for customers who opt out of the SmartMeter program,  others demanding an end to wireless meters altogether.

Residents of Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Marin and San Luis Obispo  counties claimed that SmartMeters were responsible for headaches, dizziness,  insomnia, and heart palpitations.

Peevey said that the CPUC was responding to concerns raised by the  public by offering an avenue to opt out of the SmartMeter program.

"For those of you who want to opt out, you now have the option,"  Peevey said.
   
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