PG&E offers paid meter opt-out

12/01/2011

Energy regulators have proposed a way for PG&E customers to opt out of using the utility’s controversial wireless smart meters—for a one time and continuing monthly fee. Under the proposal, drafted by California Public Utilities Commission President (CPUC) Michael Peevey, customers could have a digital meter lacking a transmitter for a $90 installation cost and a $15 monthly fee. Low-income earners would have their installation fee waived, but would still be subject to a $5 monthly fee. Local smart meter opponents blasted the proposal, calling it “extortion” in an online mailer. They said it failed to address the issue of “electrosmog” by not allowing community-wide opt-out plans. Barry Smith, a Point Reyes Station resident and director of the Alliance for Human and Environmental Health, welcomed the low-income option and called the $90 fee an improvement from the previously-proposed $270 one. But Smith said the cost is still excessive, and was concerned about how customers living in areas rife with wireless units would be affected. “The CPUC is approaching the opt-out as if it is an individual choice. And that’s a great idea,” Smith said. “But if I live next to someone and choose to go outside and spread pesticides and it wafts into their house, that is an infringement on their rights.”