SmartMeters Flunk in Monterey
March 2, 2011
Pacific Gas & Electric is working to install the wireless gas and electric meters across its entire service area, including Monterey County, by 2012. The $2.2 billion upgrade was mandated by the California Public Utilities Commission and is billed as a move toward better efficiency and energy conservation.
Critics allege the wireless meters may jack up customer bills, function poorly, violate privacy rights and harm public health through radio-frequency radiation. But an independent state audit gave SmartMeters a good grade, and the PUC rejected a request to hold public hearings on their potential health impacts.
On March 1, the Monterey council unanimously approved the SmartMeter moratorium despite a staff recommendation against it. In addition to barring PG&E from installing or activating SmartMeters and related infrastruction, the resolution wags a finger at the utility for allegedly violating freedom of choice:
"Should PG&E continue to pursue the SmartMeter Program within the City of Monterey, Council demands that PG&E respects the will of those residents who prefer to opt-out of the program, and remove the existing SmartMeters from houses of residents who do not want them."
More than two dozen other jurisdictions have taken action against the SmartMeter rollout, including San Francisco, Watsonville and Santa Cruz County. The legal question is whether the local bans can override the PUC's mandate to move forward.