Letter to the Editor: An Open Letter to the La Mesa, CA City Council





An Open Letter to the La Mesa City Council: Stop the SDG&E Smart Meters

Susan Brinchman: “We believe enough evidence exists to halt the program and exercise the Precautionary Principle.”

To the editor:

(An open letter to La Mesa City Council members)

I am writing to express my concerns related to installations of  “smart” utility meters in our beautiful city. I support the Center for Electrosmog Prevention (CEP), a new and growing nonprofit organization made up of over a hundred Southern California residents alarmed about the smart meter deployments and a host of problems resulting from smart meters in our communities.

We request an immediate moratorium on the installation of smart meters in our city, county and state, the immediate ability to opt-out, removal of all banks of meters, protection from neighboring meters, and complete dismantling of the wireless infrastructure of the smart grid.  

Throughout California, cities and counties have joined the call for an immediate moratorium and/or opt-outs, with the current number at 45, including 9 counties.  You can find out more about our group at www.electrosmogprevention.org.

Center for Electrosmog Prevention is concerned about the health, environmental and safety impacts associated with pollution from electromagnetic fields (EMF) and radiofrequency radiation (RF) technologies such as smart meters.

We maintain that the smart meter program has been rolled out by SDG&E and other California utilities with little to no public consultation, or even advance notification, and that the program has serious flaws that may impact the health, safety and financial well-being of the residents of our city (and indeed the rest of the state). 

These problems are not limited to certain regions of the state, but exist in all places where smart meters have been installed. We respectfully ask that you take a prudent, cautious approach and join the current petitions pending before the California Public Utilities Commission by 45 municipalities, Center for Electrosmog Prevention, the EMF Safety Network, and many more.

Cities and counties throughout California have filed these petitions to protect their citizens, and as a result, the CPUC is starting to take action to ensure public health and safety, formerly overlooked with the smart meter program. We need our city’s voice to be added to this list.

We have a number of concerns in the following areas:

1) Health and RF/EMF Emissions from Smart Meters

The first, and most pressing matter for us is the issue of health.  SDG&E claims that the meters are safe because they comply with Electromagnetic Field (EMF) regulations established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  

SDG&E also claims that the World Health Organization (WHO) says that EMF exposure is safe.  The truth is that EMF has been recently determined by the WHO to be a potential carcinogen [1], and even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that the FCC standards are “thermally based, and do not apply to chronic, nonthermal exposure situations.” [2]

The California Dept of Health has expressed concern about RF radiation exposures from smart meters, “The reassurance that Smart Meters emit radio frequency emfs well below cell phones … and therefore should be considered safe, appears to be based upon an incorrect representation of cell phone emf strength that was calculated; not measured. 

[3] Daniel Hirsch, CA expert on radiation, finds that smart meters may emit up to 160 times the radiation exposure of cell phones.

[4]. “SDG&E admits there has been no independent testing of the devices for cumulative impacts, or longterm exposure.  We are particularly concerned about the impacts to residents of apartment buildings in your town, as some units will have more than two dozen emitting meters installed directly adjacent to their living quarters.

“Many smart meters are close to beds, kitchens, playrooms and similar locations. These wireless systems are never off, and the exposure is not voluntary. The smart meters are being forced on citizens everywhere. Based on this, the inauguration of smart meters with grudging and involuntary exposure of millions to billions of human beings to pulsed microwave radiation should immediately be prohibited until “the red flag” can be hauled down once and for all.

The recent determination of the World Health Organization to include radiofrequent radiation on the 2B list of carcinogens also applies to devices such as smart meters. Already on Sept. 4, 2008, the European Parliament voted 522 to 16 to recommend tighter safety standards for cell phones (Europ. Parl. resolution on the mid-term review of the European Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010).

In light of the growing body of scientific evidence implicating cell phone use with brain tumors, the Parliament said, “The limits on exposure to electromagnetic fields [EMFs] which have been set for the general public are obsolete.” Dr. Olle Johansson, researcher, MD, scientist, expert in RF radiation and health, Karolinska Institute, July, 2011 [5]

Smart meters, which operate 24/7 and radiate modulated microwaves intermittently, can therefore be expected to be particularly harmful to DNA. … There is already evidence that heavy cell phone users are more prone to brain cancers. … The regular transmissions from wireless smart meters can be expected to have much the same effect, with younger people being more at risk.

The greatest damage from microwaves is when the brain is first developing in the [fetus] and thevery young child, when it can lead to autism. … There are ways in which the modulation of the signal can be changedto avoid this, but in the meantime, the compulsory introduction of smart meters can only contribute further toautism on a grand scale. (Andrew Goldsworthy, PhD, biologist, Science Advisor to European Space Agency on the biological effects of non-ionizing and ionizing radiation) [6]

Large institutions with a responsibility for human health and well being already admit that there are likely health problems associated with EMF exposure.  The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) classifies EMF radiation as a hazardous substance. NIEHS advocates prudent avoidance of EMF in the workplace.[7]

The recent Interphone study, a 10-year international study on the safety of cell phones, identified a connection between cell phone use and glioma.[8]

There are literally thousands of studies that raise concerns about the health impacts from EMF.   Many of these are detailed on the Center for Electrosmog Prevention www.electrosmogprevention.org, EMF Safety Network www.emfsafetynetwork.org, and Smart Meter Dangers www.smartmeterdangers.org sites.

In addition, thousands of Californians have filed complaints with the CPUC, utility companies, and CA nonprofits, concerning health (and other problems) resulting following installations of smart meters.

Although the science is far from certain, we feel there is a reasonable suspicion of negative health impacts that may result from EMF in general, and these meters in particular.   We would argue that this uncertainty is reason to tread cautiously, not justification for introducing millions of new sources of EMF into our communities and onto our homes.

2) Smart Meters: The Wrong Kind of Green

California utilities claim that the smart meters will reduce our carbon footprint and help address global warming.  There are many claims these days that products or services are “green” and will help to address climate change.  

We feel that a healthy degree of skepticism is needed to separate real environmental solutions from false ones. 

From the evidence we have reviewed, we feel like the smart meter program falls into the latter category.  Michael Neuert, an electrical engineer with nearly 20 years of experience in home energy use and efficiency, in addition to other experts, describes evidence that smart meters may actually increase carbon emissions.

Especially, we do not need a program that claims to solve one problem while burdening our citizens with horrific new problems, including health risks and many reports of direct harm.

3) Privacy and control issues

There are a number of concerns about data privacy and the potential for hackers to fiddle with our electricity supply.  

There are a number of articles and resources here:






4) Billing issues

Overbilling issues have occurred, with California utilities constantly changing stories as to the degree and causes of the problems.  Now SDG&E claims that the new meters are more accurate than the old ones and that is the reason people are receiving higher bills.

5) Fire and Electrical Safety

There have been a number of reports of smart meters malfunctioning, shorting out and catching on fire.  They also have been known to interfere with AFCI’s and GFCI’s- safety devices intended to prevent electrical fires. 

Here is one report from Bakersfield: 


6) Open Democracy and Public Process Concerns

We believe that serious questions need to be asked about the lack of public consultation and notification, given that this is a new, untested technology, with emissions that may be linked to the development of cancer and scores of other biological effects supported by independent research, with environmental testing waived by the CPUC.

The public was never asked whether we wanted this new system, and now we are being told we can’t opt out.   That is not the way a participatory democracy is meant to function.

7) Utility Franchise Violations

We urge the council to directly request that SDG&E cease meter installations and allow opt-outs freely, within City Limits.  We also believe that the installation of wireless repeater boxes on county/city-owned land as part of the smart meter program is inconsistent with the City’s current utility franchise agreement.

In summation

To sum up, we urge the La Mesa City Council to take prudent action at this time to defend the health, safety, and economic well-being of the citizens of our city and add to the numerous petitions to the CPUC for opt-outs and a moratorium on the smart meter program until such time as these questions are resolved. 

In so doing, you would join a growing number of cities and counties throughout California who are standing up to California utilities, including Santa Barbara, Piedmont, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Cruz Counties, Berkeley, Bolinas, Camp Meeker, Sausalito, Scotts Valley, Capitola, Sebastopol, Fairfax, Monte Sereno, Cotati, and others. 

As awareness of the problems with the smart meters spread, we expect to see more local governments join the call for a moratorium.

The town of Fairfax in Marin County has taken one of the boldest stands yet against PG&E’s smart meters, passing an ordinance banning the devices and taking PG&E to task for violating that town’s franchise agreement.  See SFGate article at:


You can also download the ordinance at: http://www.town-of-fairfax.org/ There is an excellent video of the council meeting in which many of the issues with smart meters are raised in a public forum, available online: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyRkHBOKaNA

There are relatively minor consequences for putting the brakes on the smart meter program.  However, the consequences of going forward with potentially injurious and inaccurate meters could be much more serious.  We believe enough evidence exists to halt the program and exercise the Precautionary Principle.

Again, we thank you for considering this issue with the seriousness it deserves, and for taking reasonable steps to protect the health, safety, and economic well-being of the citizens of our City.


Susan Brinchman
Center for Electrosmog Prevention a CA nonprofit, La Mesa


[1] http://www.scribd.com/doc/61286259/Radiofrequency-Radiation-2B-Carcinogen-WHO-Press-Release-No-208-5-31-11

[2] http://www.emrnetwork.org/position/noi_response/noi_epa_response.pdf

[3] California Department of Public Health (CDPH), letter to CCST, Jan. 2011, http://www.ccst.us/projects/smart2/documents/letter3.pdf Rick Kreutzer, M.D. 

[4] http://www.smartmeterdangers.org/index.php/ten-things-you-should-know-about-wireless-smart-meters/85-smart-meters-worse

[5] http://www.scribd.com/doc/59738917/Dr-Johansson-s-letter-re-SmartGrid-Smart-Meter-dangers-to-CPUC-7-9-2011?in_collection=3023557

[6] http://www.mcs-america.org/August2011pg234567.pdf

[7] http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/resources/library/consumer/hazardous.cfm


Comments (11)


7:38pm on Thursday, August 11, 2011

We should definitely ban cell phones, cordless phones, and wifi – immediately!

Steve Dolan

10:13am on Friday, August 12, 2011

Welcome to SDG&E's self-serving world. These are the same people who are tearing up Alpine Blvd. and making driving miserable in our town. Before this controversial powerlink project began, an SDG&E spokesman told me there would be "little disruption" with construction taking place 75 feet at a time. Drive up to Alpine and you'll see that this guy had the honest look of Abe Lincoln and the dishonest comments of your typical 2011 politician.

Shawn Lee

7:59pm on Thursday, August 11, 2011

PG&E installed a SMART Meter on Monday going over our 6ft LOCKED gate.
I feel violated, and I do not want this thing. After placing a gas SMART meter, our clock w remote temperature reading went crazy, after doing all the trouble shooting assumed my clock was broke. I received a new one for Christmas and guess what?!?!?! I had the same problem!!!! When we called to complain about tresspassing they pretty much stated "they can come onto our property anytime they want". One problem we have a 100lb shephard mix dog. When we asked for release of liability they refuse. So they can access our yard, which has a 6ft fence and gates with a lock anytime they want and if our dog is startled and bites them, they can turn around and sue us. What happen to my home is my castle?

S. Culver

9:20pm on Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thank you Susan Brinchman for an excellent article. People, read the links. "smart"meters are particularly bad because (1) they are mandatory and 24/7 with no escape and (2) they emit their signals in unpredictable patterns, which is said to be the worst thing for living beings, as there is no way for the body to acclimate itself but instead it is constantly being shocked and surprised by these erratic spikes.

Kiku Lani Iwata

10:00pm on Thursday, August 11, 2011

Look around you, residents. Are smart meters on your home or apartment complex already, and the radiating antenna on poles blanketing with you radiation around your neighborhood? These are not mandated by the Federal Goverment, so did you consent to have them installed? Join Sue Brinchman's group to just say "no" to smart meters. Her group is fighting against smart meters on the local and statewide level, to protect you and your life, privacy, what is supposed to be the safety and sancitity of our homes, and the democratic values that you and all of us cherish..

G. Rappaport

8:40am on Friday, August 12, 2011

At LEAST SDG&E and Sempra Energy should give us the choice to opt out of the "smart meter"! Please, everyone, write to the California Public Utilities Commission asking them to require SDG&E to offer an opt-out choice.

Amy O'Hair

9:32am on Friday, August 12, 2011

Good job at rounding up the data and educating a woefully under-informed public. Thank you Susan Brinchman.
@Frimbo: Hey, this is serious and a lot of people who never thought about the RF they are exposed to are starting to wake up. Your government doesn't order you to keep a wifi unit next to your bed, or a cell phone next to your head. Consumer choice is one thing, but mandatory home exposure 24/7 is a different matter. Here's one guy who is just starting to understand what is it to be the guinea pig of a major corporation's massive experiment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cejL8DTPdro

Susan Brinchman

11:26am on Friday, August 12, 2011

Dr. Andrew Goldsworthy, UK, PhD, biologist who advised the European Space Agency on the effects of non-ionizing radiation, links rf radiation exposure in pregnancy with autism. A just-published Kaiser study links these exposures to development of autism, they call it exposure to electromagnetic fields in pregnancy. More than one out of 90 children are born with autism, causing tremendous problems for them and their families and caretakers, enormous expense, as they cannot take care of themselves for their entire lifetimes…this is VERY serious. These terrible "smart" meters (some call them murder meters) are placed often on the walls of bedrooms, where pregnant women may sleep and babies lie in nurseries. If you can't be safe in your own home, if a utility can arrive on your doorstep and install something that scientists are warning about and if it clearly makes some people sick and the rest at high risk… what kind of country do we suddenly have? This type of despotic behavior reminds me of Saddam Hussein or Adolph Hitler. It has no place in America. The smart meters must GO, all of them. The wireless infrastructure must GO. Citizens have to demand this, by the millions. We cannot sit back and think the government will protect us, as this is one case where the government and industry are colluding to produce a disastrous mistake of epic proportions. They must be stopped. Join us in our efforts at electrosmogprevention.org and organize additional groups, insist on safety.

Susan Brinchman

11:42am on Friday, August 12, 2011

https://twitter.com/No2smartmeters for over 500 articles Tweeted on this topic. Find out what has been in the media outside San Diego County, which has produced very little coverage on this topic. Some of the local media appear to be simply mouthpieces for SDG&E propaganda. Contact SDUT and insist on a non-biased report on smart meter problems and what is happening with SDG&E's heavy resistance to helping customers with smart meter problems and opt-out planning.

Are Smart Meters a Smart Idea? | NBC San Diego


Watch San Diego Insider's story about people suffering health effects from Smart Meters in San Diego, CA, with the response of the utility, which has not removed the meters that allegedly are responsible for one man's health problems.
SDG&E Customers Unhappy With Smart Meter Installations
SDG&E's new smart meters could damage TVs

Mar 30, 2010 · Had a problem with your smart meter? Union-Tribune reporter Onell Soto would like to hear about it: onell.soto@uniontrib.com

Susan Brinchman

11:56am on Friday, August 12, 2011

CCST's biased report Health Effects of Smart Meters (uses facilities funded by utilities and US DOE) criticized by hundreds of organizations and individuals, including CA Dept of Health and many experts. Read personal accounts and scientist's views. You will also read the utilities' responses and their ilk, sources that support smart meters (follow the money is the rule): http://www.ccst.us/projects/smart2/

Health effects listed:


From the "public comment" section of the New York Public Service Commission website:


11:19am on Saturday, August 13, 2011

Great information on the smart meter, Susan… Thank you!

My mother is 91 years old. Over a year ago the utility company installed a smart meter to track her electricity, and just two months ago SDGE installed a smart meter to read her gas. In the last two months Mother’s eyesight has been getting worse, and she is having more trouble sleeping. I measured the RF readings from the combination of both the gas and electric smart meters on her home. RF readings were taken with a eHFE 35C RF Meter with a UBB27 antenna. Readings were far in excess of what is allowable for the total ambient surroundings of 1000 mW/cm2.

I have since covered both meters with a shield to reduce the radiation into Mother’s house.

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