Several smart meter opt-out proposals have been submitted by PG&E, following a demand by the CPUC to do so. These proposals involve turning off the transmitter on the smart meter, leaving the smart meter on and continuing to install smart meters, and charging the non-smart meter customers hefty fees (of approx. $500 the first year, with sizable monthly fees thereafter, and higher rates). UCAN, a San Diego nonprofit, has filed an application for SDG&E to be required to allow opting out of smart meters by customers, who would be allowed to use analogue meters and pay an extra fee per month. Formal protests have been filed by the following entities. Links to the protests are located below. Their documents bring up very valid points to be considered. (SMD)
Proceeding #: A1103015
Response filed by DRA/PAULL/CPUC on 04/27/2011
(Division of Ratepayer Advocates, CPUC)
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/RESP/134335.PDF (571 kb)
Response filed by DRA/PAULL/CPUC on 04/27/2011 (Attachment)
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/RESP/134336.PDF (504 kb)
I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY
In Application (A.) 11-03-015, the Utility Consumers Action Network (UCAN)
requests that SDG&E develop a program that allows its customers to opt out of its smart meter program, in addition to other requests. DRA urges the Commission to consider the merits of a statewide opt-out program.
In concurrent application A.11-03-014, filed on March 24, 2011, PG&E submitted
a proposal to allow its customers to opt out of its SmartMeter program by requesting that the radio embedded in the SmartMeter be deactivated, or “turned off.” In its response to that application, DRA recommended that the Commission address certain key issues relevant to any smart meter opt-out program in a consistent manner for all the investor owned electric and gas utilities (IOUs) that are deploying advanced metering systems.
A copy of DRA’s response in A.11-03-014 is attached to this one, and DRA requests that it be made part of the record in this proceeding. In this response DRA addresses additional concerns raised by UCAN.
To address opt-out programs in a manner that is equitable for the customers of all
the IOUs, the Commission has a number of procedural options available. One that merits consideration would be to open a rulemaking proceeding to address industry-wide issues (such as exceptions or changes to smart meter functionality requirements, and any public health issues), and to consolidate that rulemaking with the applications concerning PG&E’s and SDG&E’s opt-out programs. The drawback of such an approach is that it may make it more difficult to process PG&E’s application, in particular, quickly. In making this procedural decision, the Commission should balance equitable treatment of customers in all service territories, the potential “judicial economy” that may be gained from consolidating proceedings that raise common issues, and expediency in establishing
opt-out programs across the utilities it regulates. (http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/RESP/134335.PDF, page 2)
Proceeding #: A1103014 (aka PG&E Opt-Out Proposal)
California Public Utilities Commission
Protest filed by Wilner & Associates on 04/25/2011
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/P/134088.PDF (230 kb)
"Wilner & Associates ("Wilner") is a consultant firm that conducts electromagnetic fields and radio frequency interference studies for people that are concerned about their health and sensitive electronic equipment. We believe that SmartMeters are causing health problems for people that suffer from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity ("EHS") and other medical conditions, and want to ensure that the opt-out proposal offered by PG&E provides relief for those people." (p.1)
"It is entirely possible that the "radio-off" metering option proposed by PG&E may not solve the health concerns associated with the SmartMeters. A large number of customers have complained that they get sick when SmartMeters are installed on their property. This is one of the reasons the Commission ordered PG&E to offer an opt-out option. PG&E proposes to disable the radio transmitter in the SmartMeter to alleviate concerns about the wireless device, but fails to explain in its application how that will help people with related health problems." (p. 2)
PG&E has been very careful not to mention health concerns in its application because it does not want to acknowledge the possibility that some people through no fault of their own suffer from EHS or some other medical condition, and are adversely affected by a SmartMeter installation on their property. EHS is recognized by the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers ("IEEE"), the same organization that established an engineering protocol for the wireless devices utilized in the SmartMeters to transmit and receive radio signals. People with EHS are sensitive to the radio frequency signals generated by the SmartMeters even though such emissions may be far below safety standards established by the Federal Communications Commission. IEEE describes some of the symptoms associated with EHS as follows:
Nervous system symptoms (e.g. fatigue, stress, sleep disturbances)
Skin symptoms (e.g. facial prickling, burning sensations, rashes)
Various body symptoms (e.g. pain and ache in muscles)
Eye symptoms (e.g. burning sensations)
Various less common symptoms, including ear, nose, and throat symptoms, digestive
The severities of the symptoms vary greatly. In some cases, they are sufficiently severe to prevent the EHS individual from carrying out his or her everyday activities (see IEEE Eng. Med.
Biol. Sept/Oct 173-175, 2002).
Another health concern that should be considered is hyperacusis. One of the symptoms is ringing in the ears, and this is a common complaint made by customers that object to a SmartMeter being installed on their property. Hyperacusis (often associated with migraines) is a health condition characterized by oversensitivity to certain frequency ranges of sound, and affects more than 10% of the population (see Wikipedia, definition of hyperacusis). The operating frequency of a switching- mode power supply ("SMPS"), an integral part of the
SmartMeter, when idling (not drawing current) is sometimes in the audible human range, and may sound subjectively quite loud for people that have hyperacusis in the relevant frequency range (see Wikipedia, switched-mode power supply information). Disconnecting the radio transmitter in the SmartMeter may not solve this problem because the SMPS will still be operating 24/7. ¹" (p. 4-5)
Proceeding #: A1103014
Protest filed by Ecological Options Network on 04/25/2011
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/P/134219.PDF (907 kb)
…two charts that seek to compare microwave radiation from
smart meters to cell phones, microwaves and other devices. The first is from the CCST report- http://www.ccst.us/news/2011/20110111smart.php
The second is from Mr. Dan Hirsch’s study, corrected for whole body, cumulative
The CCST report mixed units and published [a] highly misleading chart (see http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/P/134219.PDF),
which was presented as fact by many media outlets.
The chart above was produced by Daniel Hirsch, corrected to represent
cumulative, whole body exposure. When the chart is corrected to reflect the same units of measurement, it appears that smart meters are at least 100x more powerful than cell phones, which are increasingly being linked with brain tumors.(p. 7-8)
"New science is available that deepens the understanding of this serious threat to
the population and ultimately to our species survival. There is compelling scientific
evidence that shows chronic long term exposure to low levels of RF and EMF radiation
can cause double strand DNA breaks. (http://www.verum-foundation.de/euprojekte.
html, as well as weakening of the blood brain barrier which then allows toxins to
penetrate into the brain tissue. (Salford et al., 1944] Chang, B.K.; Huang, A.T.; Joines,
W.T.; Kramer, R.S. The effect of microwave radiation (1.0 GHz) on the blood-brainbarrier.
Radio Sci. 17:165-168; 1982.)
DRA Issues Comments on Report on Smart Meter Health Impacts
“The Division of Ratepayer Advocates of the California Public Utilities
Commission issued a report last month calling on the CPUC to investigate the
health impacts of Smart Meters, citing “clearly a high level of public concern”
over health problems.
“The commission would be remiss in its duty to ensure ‘safe and reliable’ service
if it did not solicit further evidence and perform an analysis” on health problems
of radio-frequency emissions, the ignition potential of Smart Meters close to gas
lines, and electronic interference with other wireless devices, the ratepayer
advocates’ report stated.” (p. 10)
7– More Injuries Likely when RF Mesh-Network is Fully Activated
Though there has been public outcry from the adverse effects from the smart meters
already installed, the RF function of the meters has not yet been fully activated in all
local mesh networked configurations. At such time as the entire proposed mesh-network
is activated, there will be even more extreme adverse health effects.
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8 – 'SmartMeters™’ Contain Harmful Switched-Mode Power Supply (SMPS)
Examination of the "SmartMeters™' by qualified engineering professionals (engineering
degrees from MIT and Stanford) shows that they each contain a switching-mode power
supply (SMPS) which are widely known to induce electro-magnetic interference (EMI),
high frequency transients, in the electrical wiring systems to which they are attached.
The SMPS function transforms the 240v AC from the utility pole power line to
the 5v DC to run the meter’s electronics. The SMPS functions 24/7, constantly emitting
sharp spikes of high frequency transients in its efforts to transform and convert the
voltage and current characteristics. These spikes, or high frequency transients, are
created on the power lines when the current is repeatedly interrupted. See Switched mode
“Higher switch frequency allows component sizes to be shrunk, but can produce
more radio frequency (RF) interference.”
The harmful effects from exposure to EMI, electromagnetic interference, from the pulsed
high frequency transients, are similar to those of exposure to pulsed RF. According to
studies, pulsed electromagnetic radiation is more disruptive to cell activity.
See for example:
BioInitiative Working Group, Cindy Sage and David O. Carpenter, Editors.
BioInitiative Report: A Rationale for a Biologically-based Public Exposure
Standard for Electromagnetic Fields (ELF and RF) at www.bioinitiative.org,
August 31, 2007.
Pathophysiology Journal, Special Issue 16: Volumes 1 and 2, 2009. Elsevier
Press. (There are chapters on low- intensity radiofrequency and wireless radiation
health effects based on scientific literature from the realms of genotoxicity,
genomics and proteomics, neurology, blood-brain barrier effects, stress (heat
shock) proteins, immunology and inflammatory diseases, cancer and public health
consequences of ignoring warnings given global proliferation of wireless
exposures at billions of times greater levels than earth and humans evolved with.)
9 – ‘SmartMeters™' Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI) — High Measurements
Such electro-magnetic spikes, harmonics or ‘transients’ have been measured by our
consulting engineers at levels as high as 60,000 Hz. Their extensive measurements have
demonstrated that all of the meters measured so far, including ABB, GE, and Landis Gyr,
emit noise on the customer's electric wiring in the form of high frequency voltage spikes,
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typically with an amplitude of 2 volts, but a frequency anywhere from 4,000 Hertz, up to
60,000 Hz. The actual frequency of the phenomena is influenced by the devices that are
plugged into the customer's power. Some houses are much worse than others, and this
observation has been confirmed by PG&E repairmen who have changed the meters due
to this problem. (as reported to the engineers as well as to others.)
From the above article: “We've been getting a lot of calls about this, most of them are
coming from California." [snip] Ott said the problem occurred with one of the meters
supplied by Switzerland-based Landis+Gyr and disappeared when a meter made by
General Electric Co. (GE) was substituted. Ott said the Landis+Gyr meter may use
microwaves instead of radio waves to transmit its information. "Microwaves are much
higher frequency, shorter wavelengths, and could be a higher energy level," Ott said. “
10 – Human Health Effects Established
Electro-Hyper Sensitivity, or EHS, is a recognized medical condition to which an
estimated 3 – 15% of the population is subject. The scientific data tells us that 3% of the
population will get sick immediately from overexposure to RF, and another 10% will
develop the disability over time. This means about 4.5 million people in California are
potential victims to life altering adverse health effects. But no one is immune. Sweden
officially recognizes EHS as a functional disability and provides government assistance
to enable EHS sufferers to live as normal a life as possible.
11– EHS Functional Impairment Caused by Exposure to Both RF and EMI
EHS has also been shown to be caused by exposure to EMI, or so-called 'dirty electricity.'
(http://www.sammilham.com/ Physician-epidemiologist and expert witness Dr. Sam Milham
carried out a study based on U.S. Census Bureau data covering the period from 1920 to
1960. The data showed death rates, cancer, cardiovascular diseases were much higher in
electrified areas than in non-electrified areas. Dr. Milham warns that because of the
recent proliferation of radio frequency radiation from cell phones and towers, terrestrial
antennas, Wi-Fi and Wi-max systems, broadband internet over power lines, and personal
electronic equipment, we may be facing a looming epidemic of morbidity and mortality.
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12 – Health Effects Related to Switched-Mode Power Supply
Based on the evidence above and the fact that some injuries from smart meters occurred
immediately after installation, EON believes it is the switched-mode power supply as
well as the RF component that has so far damaged peoples' health and disrupted the
functioning of electrical appliances by generating electro-magnetic interference in both
the target building and the local power supply network." (p. 10-13)
Proceeding #: A1103014
Protest filed by County of Lake on 04/25/2011
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/P/134115.PDF (174 kb)
"The mandatory installation of radiation-emitting Smart Meters violates basic rights granted by the State of California, overburdens utility easements, and violates local laws. The California Constitution, Article 1, Declaration of Rights, Section 1 states, “All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.” Mandatory installation of Smart Meters infringes on
people’s rights to protect their property, life and liberty. The radiation emitted by Smart Meters
is an environmental toxin which infringes on people’s rights to obtain safety. Existing utility franchise agreements generally lack specific provisions regarding RF emissions. PG&E’s installation of Smart Meters and associated infrastructure goes far beyond the intentions of utility easements incorporated into most if not all franchise agreements. Furthermore, standard homeowner’s insurance policies explicitly exclude RF damage from coverage, putting ratepayers at risk for hazards not contemplated in utility franchise agreements." (p.7) [emphasis by Smart Meter Dangers]
For the reasons discussed above, County requests that the Commission impose a
moratorium on the installation of Smart Meters pending the resolution of this proceeding due to the aforementioned health, privacy, security, and environmental concerns for customers who want the “radio-off” option but do not have the means to pay for the additional charges. In order to ensure that the proposed charges are just and reasonable and to promote the health, comfort, and convenience of the public, the Commission should impose such moratorium until such time that PG&E makes the “radio-off” option available to all customers or until the Commission resolves the health, privacy, security, and environmental concerns of these Smart Meters." (p.9)
Proceeding #: A1103014
Protest filed by EMF Safety Network on 04/25/2011
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/P/134119.PDF (85 kb)
PG&E’s application is an inadequate solution to serious Smart Meter
problems that the Commission and California utilities have failed to address. It is
wrong to require ratepayers to pay to escape from threats to their health and
ensure safety in their own homes. PG&E’s proposed charges will be an unfair
burden and will harm ratepayers.
The Commission should first order a Smart Meter moratorium, then modify
PG&E’s requested relief to provide ratepayers safe and reliable utility service at
reasonable rates. The Commission should schedule evidentiary hearings on
contested issues. Network intends to participate in the hearings. The Commission
should order PG&E to allow ratepayers to keep their analog meters or restore
analog meters at no additional cost. Ratepayers should not have to bear the
financial burden for the failure of the Smart Meter program." (P. 7-8)
Protest filed by EMF Safety Network on 04/25/2011 (Attachment)
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/P/134120.PDF (25 kb)
Motion For Reassignment filed by EMF Safety Network on 04/25/2011
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/PRA/134121.PDF (53 kb)
Motion For Reassignment filed by EMF Safety Network on 04/25/2011 (Attachment)
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/PRA/134122.PDF (25 kb)
Motion filed by EMF Safety Network on 04/25/2011
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/MOTION/134123.PDF (52 kb)
Motion filed by EMF Safety Network on 04/25/2011 (Attachment)
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/MOTION/134124.PDF (25 kb)
Proceeding #: A1103014
Protest filed by The Utility Reform Network on 04/25/2011
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/P/134116.PDF (594 kb)
Proceeding #: A1103014
Protest filed by Aglet Consumer Alliance on 04/25/2011
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/P/134117.PDF (69 kb)
Protest filed by Aglet Consumer Alliance on 04/25/2011 (Attachment)
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/P/134118.PDF (25 kb)
Proceeding #: A1103014
Protest filed by Alameda County Residents Concerned About Smart Meters. on 04/25/2011
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/P/134282.PDF (117 kb)
"In its proposal, PG&E will allow customers to "opt-out" of the program if they pay PG&E certain additional fees. Let me paraphrase what this implies. PG&E is saying to people, "we will install a device on your property that is possibly injurious to your health, is an invasion of your privacy, and which will constitute a vulnerability to your safety, and if you don't want us to do that, you will have to pay us money."
It is quite obvious which laws and statutes, at both the state and federal levels,
are violated by this. Such a stance is easily recognized as extortion." (p.5)
"The Commission should not modify PG&E's requested relief, but instead totally
reject PG&E's proposal for the purpose of preventing PG&E from committing illegal
acts, protecting the people of California from becoming victims of PG&E's proposed
illegal acts, and protecting the people of California from PG&E's injurious behavior
A.11-03-014 Alameda County Residents Concerned About Smart Meters
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toward the health and well-being of the people in the interest of justice and legality.
Instead, the Commission should call upon PG&E to institute a real "opt-out"
alternative to its installation of Smartmeters, one which would entail simply leaving the
analog meter installed, which would not involve a modification of its program but
simply non-installation. In addition, the Commission should call upon PG&E to
replace the original analog meter in those cases where the customer does not wish
to have a Smartmeter, in the interest of legality and democracy." (p. 7-8)
Protest filed by Alameda County Residents Concerned About Smart Meters. on 04/25/2011 (Attachment)
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/P/134283.PDF (25 kb)
Proceeding #: A1103014
Compliance Filing filed by Pacific Gas and Electric Company on 04/20/2011
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/CF/134289.PDF (515 kb)
Proceeding #: A1103015 (aka UCAN Opt-out Proposal for SDG&E)
Protest filed by San Diego Gas & Electric Company on 04/25/2011
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/P/134084.PDF (693 kb)
technology, was approved by this Commission in Decision 07-04-043, dated April 12, 2007, and is entirely consistent with that obligation. Furthermore, as explained in Decision 10-12-001, this Commission has previously determined there is “no reason to reopen our prior Smart Meter decisions to address these alleged health concerns at this time given the relatively tiny
3 Decision 07-04-043, p. 2.
4 See Decision 02-12-069 at 7-8.
5 See, e.g., Pub. Util. Code §§ 451, 761, 762, 768, and 770.
contribution Smart Meters will make to RF exposure relative to other sources in our modern environment. Parties who believe the limits the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has set for RF exposures from Smart Meters are too high relative to the alleged health threat should direct their arguments to the FCC, not to this Commission in the context of the Smart Meter program.”6
SDG&E are designed with the FCC’s strict standard of safety and security.
When it comes to the safety of wireless devices and systems, there are three key areas to consider: proximity to the device; intensity of the transmission; and duration of the transmission.
For example, a person speaking on a cell phone has 3.3 to 1,100 times more RF exposure than a person standing two feet from an active smart meter. Similarly, a person using a laptop computer can experience up to 2.2 times more RF exposure than a person standing 2 feet from a smart meter.7 SDG&E has selected a technology that uses RF fields at very low power to transmit information on an infrequent basis. Additionally, RF fields from these devices typically
weaken dramatically at a distance of just a few feet. In fact, based upon equation 7 published in
7 Source: Richard Tell Associates, Inc., available at: http://www.radhaz.com/.
the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology (“OET”) Bulletin 65,8 the RF field from an SDG&E Smart Meter, compared with the value at a distance of one inch, is 97% lower at six inches and 99% lower at 12 inches. Furthermore, the RF exposure created by Smart Meter infrastructure is much less than many devices customers already use in and around the home. For example, typical microwave ovens are over 550 times more.9"…"