Today marks the beginning of an era for Southern California Edison (SCE) residential customers. This is because starting today the utility is “enabling” customers to opt out of the Smart Meter program—for a fee. SCE had been waiting for a final decision from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). On April 19th the CPUC approved an opt-out arrangement similar to the one that had been approved for approximately 12 million Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) customers in northern and central California (for more details about the earlier PG&E decision, refer to my February 7th post, Smart Meters: Opting Out Will Cost You!).
Details of the final decision are as follows: Customers who opt out of the Smart Meter program will pay a one-time set-up fee of $75, plus a recurring charge of $10 monthly. For “income-qualified” customers, the one-time charge is reduced to $10; the monthly charge, reduced to $5. As I mentioned in my previous post, many of the residents here in California’s Antelope Valley and surrounding areas had requested to “opt out” of Smart Meter installation. I can tell you from speaking with some of these folks that they are not pleased at the prospect of paying more money just to keep things the way they are.
One woman I spoke to complained that she will be forced to pay the standard rates ($75+$10/mo), even though she is the only one in her household earning (hourly) wages. The reason she feels compelled to opt-out of the Smart Meter program relates to her husband’s health. He has a heart condition requiring him to wear a pacemaker. To be fair, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) both claim that pacemakers have been subjected to extensive testing for electromagnetic interference (EMI). Note, however, that the focus of all this testing related to cell phone usage. It did not consider (and probably predated) the specifics of Smart Meter installations. Apparently, the conclusions for Smart Meters were “extrapolated” from the cell phone testing.
As I wrote previously in last year’s December 1st post, Smart Meters: What the Power Company Won’t Tell You, many people are affected by “Electro-Hyper-Sensitivity” to radio waves. A significant 3% are “severely” affected, but 35% of the population is “moderately” affected by this sensitivity. In that post, a video from consulting engineer Rob States was featured, where he explained how PG&E’s Smart Meters work and why they endanger health and privacy. Today, I have included another You Tube video, which features Rob States speaking “on location” at the Sutro Tower, overlooking San Francisco, California. The video is an Anthony J. Hilder production, which he entitles, “20 Million Death Rays Hit San Francisco—What Else Can You Call It But Murder” (yes, he inspired this post’s title, too!):
Here Rob States has summarized the findings of the same Sutro Tower study that was discussed in “The Dark Side of ‘Smart’ Meters” (the video included in my December 1st post). In this study, incidence of childhood cancer from 1973 to 1988 was plotted as a function of distance from the tower. The findings of the study were troubling. As hypothesized, childhood cancer cases were more frequent near the tower, and less so at further distances from the tower. This study was conducted in 2002 by Dr. Neil Cherry of Lincoln University (New Zealand).
At My Solar Backup Depot we aim to provide alternatives to big utility power, taking a stepwise approach. I write about Smart Meters not only to raise awareness of the associated health and privacy issues, but also to show how we are being “conned” into paying ever higher rates and fees just to have power safely delivered to our home. As I see it, the best way to avoid new fees (such as the “opt-out” fee) is by making a regular investment in a residential solar system. Your system’s capability can be expanded as allowed by the budget you set. This way, home energy costs gradually come under your control (as opposed to the utility’s control) as you increase the wattage of your system. Of course, taken full gamut, you may someday bill the utility company for your power under a “net metering” program… and hopefully, under the right circumstances, your savings will be recorded on a good old “analog” meter, spinning backwards!