Sebastopol residents lash out against PG&E plan for ‘SmartMeters’
By RANDI ROSSMANN
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
PG&E’s plan to install wireless meters on area homes has some Sebastopol residents calling for city leaders to reject the plan because they fear the meters could impact their health.
“I want the city of Sebastopol to be the first city to say ‘hell no,’” to the utility meter program, said Madison Baker of Sebastopol.
Baker and others are vocal critics of the plan for PG&E to go wireless, fearing any additional radiation from the meters’ electromagnetic fields will negatively impact their health.
Starting this month, PG&E workers will be installing automated meters as part of an upgrading effort on the state’s energy infrastructure.
North Coast customers will start getting their meters this month, including in Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Petaluma.
Utility officials reject the notion that the meters are unsafe. Andrew Tang of PG&E said studies conducted in 2005 and 2008 show the rates of radiation from the electromagnetic fields from the meters fall within standards and levels set by the FCC.
“We don’t believe there are health hazards associated with the Smart meters,” said Katie Romans PG&E spokeswoman. “But we do want to address the community’s concerns fully. We’ll be taking those concerns back to our experts” and will return to the next Sebastopol session on the issue to address them.
PG&E also said the meters will be a benefit to customers who will be able to go online and see how much energy they’re using and give them options about ways to save money.
Tuesday dozens of people spoke before City Council members, some sporting protest buttons saying “Smart Moratorium,” taken from the utility company’s “SmartMeter” program.
“This is a matter of choice,” said Nancy Hubert of Sebastopol. “They are not allowing us a choice. I think this is pretty outrageous actually.”
City officials Tuesday said they hope to have a town hall meeting to allow a full airing of concerns before making any decision on how to proceed.