Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Is Using PG&E's SmartMeter a Smart Idea?
A gas meter on a southwest Santa Rosa residence outfitted with a PG&E SmartMeter transponder. The transponder has not yet been activated.
Sebastopol asks PG&E to put off SmartMeters
By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Published: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 10:52 p.m.
The city of Sebastopol is asking PG&E to delay putting wireless meters inside the city limits while state regulators and the utility conduct studies on the meter's safety.
Related Links:Sebastopol council weighs action on wireless PG&E meters PG&E predicts more shutoffs with new meters Building a better power meter “We are getting different information from our citizens and we don't get the full information from PG&E,” said Mayor Sarah Gurney. “We feel this is a safety matter that is being investigated, and that's why we are asking for a deferral.”
The city in a letter will also ask that PG&E make it a matter of choice, allowing customers to opt to have a SmartMeter, as they are called.
SmartMeters are being installed in a statewide program by PG&E, which says they will give customers the instant feedback that is necessary to reduce energy during peak times and save money.
The meters were to have been installed in Sonoma County beginning this month.
Critics, however, contend the meters emit radio waves that are damaging to the health, contributing to the electromagnetic field that already exists from other sources.
They also contend that the meters may not be the cost-saving device the utility claims them to be.
Supporters, however, said the meters are a step toward reducing energy use during peak times, when the additional electricity is generated by “peak plants” that are among the most polluting.
Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo is setting up a countywide forum on SmartMeters for April, city officials said.
The letter will be sent to the state Public Utilities Commission, which has jurisdiction over the utility, asking for the delay and that customers be given a choice.
It passed on a 3-1 vote, with Councilman Larry Robinson voting against it, contending that meters are necessary in the climate change fight. Councilwoman Linda Kelley was absent.
You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or firstname.lastname@example.org