PG&E considers compromise on SmartMeters

November 20, 2010

PG&E may be open to compromise in response to growing public concern over the installation of SmartMeters in homes and businesses throughout the state. [SF Chronicle]

The new wireless meter reading system, currently being deployed in northern San Luis Obispo County, has come under attack for health concerns. PG&E officials indicated Friday that they might be open to making other options available to customers.

“We want those customers to understand that we take their concerns seriously,” said PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith. “We’re still in a preliminary stage of review, including weighing the costs of any options. We will make this information public in the coming months as we develop it.”

Customers who say they are sensitive to radiation from cell phones, laptop computers and other wireless devices have demanded a moratorium on the $2.2 billion SmartMeter program, only to be rebuffed by the company and state regulators. PG&E has always insisted that the technology offers no health risk.

The idea that wireless devices can cause cancer and other illnesses remains hotly disputed. But in an interview Friday, PG&E Chief Executive Officer Peter Darbee said the company is looking for a “compromise solution” for people who consider the devices a health risk. He didn’t elaborate.

PG&E critics have suggested two main alternatives: allowing customers to opt out of the SmartMeter program and keep their old electricity and gas meters, or using SmartMeters that transmit their data through wires.


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21 Comments

  1. backseat_driver says:

    If it is wireless, it is easily hackable for anyone with the basic tools and talents. I am not saying it will happen here, but somewhere. Just making us more vulnerable for the sake of making an extra buck.

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  2. Alon_Perlman says:

    Good point McKany. There may be problems with data integrity on the ride on the live wire infosuperhighway when the data recombines on the grid. Signal to noise ratio.
    This transmission of real time data is simply 21 century technology. More that can go wrong as we enter the age of brownouts before the big chill. The people who are raising objections on health reasons are busy emailing each other with the latest research from Google University, from the warm Wifi laptops sitting on their watchamacallits (Upper thighs?). These are not people who carve out recycled sandals from old tires.
    Side of the house is where these things are going. Not the bathroom, (La Bania) nursery, kitchen or in front of the TV. 900 Mhtz? (Acronym for “Mother it hurtz’) Goes through houses, trees and the soft tissues of the human body? Doesn’t warm the cockles of me heart. (And that’s a good thing)
    It’s a brave new world out there, and data mining of consumption patterns is part of the global economy. (As is efficient cost recovery)
    The real plot is much more sinister, as seen in this video of a person coming across a new meter set in stand- by-mode at the side of the house.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3owLjBkEtHs
    As the meter powers up, all is revealed. Watch and learn.
    Por me amigos.

    (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
    • BeenThereDoneThat says:

      Watched your link. ??????????????????????????????????????????? Are you on drugs??? Futurerama????

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  3. mkaney says:

    I just don’t get it.. why go through all the trouble to devise a system that is wireless, when the the system has wires already that are essential to the deliver of the service. They can transmit right over their own existing power cables at 24 to 500Khz without wattage limitations by replacing some capacitors and installing some filters. This is one of those things that people need to question what other motivations might be underlying the use of these devices.

    It reminds me of the voting machines a little bit… where Diebold keeps making straw man arguments to change the subject about why they can’t just produce a receipt like the ATM machines they build, and why they are using unsecure database formats.

    Something just doesn’t add up.

    (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
    • willie says:

      With respect of EMF or radiation too much of anything (unnecessary) or not enough of something (necessary) is not good for you.

      Thus far, PGE has given what sound lie smoke.

      The other CEO was spying so he can figure how to engineer what we should think or believe (what vs how to think) This is a seed of a poison tree.

      I am one who do NOT like being told until after get me there, then its too late to head them off at the pass!
      If something is not right, it has to be stopped from the GIT GO.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  4. rdickey says:

    Using just 100mW I have often raised the Tassajara repeater – 8 miles away. This includes from
    inside my shop, with chicken wire in the stucco.

    Also, the emf-cancer hoax is pure nonsense. It was started by two epidemiologists who knew
    nothing about electricity, (which they proved in their paper) They later admitted their thesis
    was flawed. I have the complete file on the spread of the superstition.

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
    • willie says:

      On what frequency or wavelength, adn condition did you perform this magical feat, microwave?

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
    • R.Hodin says:

      That hoax must have been pretty convincing, as a good part of the rest of the civilized world is rethinking or has already restricted cell phones and WiFi

      http://emfjournal.com/cell-phone-ban/

      (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
      • zaphod says:

        I fact checked your link, and it is as weak as my cell phone’s reception,the page you linked shows up as top search result or why fry .uk when you seach for the articles. I think this is called astroturf , but I am not sure. very short on actual facts, long on fear,uncertainty and doubts.FUD

        (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  5. calvertworthington says:

    Similar systems used elsewhere. Concerns on privacy. Residential data collected will provide a marketable ‘user profile’, similar to that harvested by Internet corps. When you use power (are at home, or not), how much etc.

    Check: http://epic.org/privacy/smartgrid/smartgrid.html

    (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
  6. Maxfusion says:

    Torches and pitchforks

    (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  7. hotdog says:

    On Friday night on the Congalton show the PG and E rep stated the ratepayers would not be paying for this program. I will give him the benefit of the doubt and just call him naive at this point. I believe he misspoke or lied to us when he said the energy savings would pay for the program. PG and E is a monster private corporation that will stop at nothing to garner more profits, they never do anything from the heart. The ratepayers or the state (the rate payers) will be paying the $2.2 billion for these meters.

    The meters are made in Mexico with a few American components. So our dear utility will force us to pay for a foreign product that will put Americans (meter readers) out of work. Those out of work folks will further impact our jobless situation. They won’t be buying any candy in your shoppe, nor as much gas, clothing, cars, food and other necessities and luxuries. That means YOUR buying power will go down too, and on and on.

    For those who somehow STILL cling to the concept this monster utility must have our best interests at heart- remember all those efficiency rebates, light bulb programs and other really nice things they have been doing for many years? All were either ordered by the PUC and/or paid for by the state (ratepayers) or ratepayers. Since PG and E is a monopoly the PUC can tell them what to do. And only those with their heads in the sand have forgotten that ghastly proposition thrust on us by PG and E in the last election cycle that would have prevented us from choosing our own energy companies-fortunately it lost badly. I’ll bet we somehow paid the almost $100 million they spent trying to rip us off-if not us, who?

    Even though this program may not harm us through radio waves you can rest assured any benefit will be to the corporation, not us.

    (16) 16 Total Votes - 16 up - 0 down
    • R.Hodin says:

      PG&E currently has a rate case before the CPUC. PG&E wants ratepayers to keep paying for the depreciation of the removed mechanical meters as if they were still in service. They are fighting attempts to settle for a reimbursement of their costs. Instead they want to continue to make a profit on their equipment, whether it’s in service or not, or whether it’s serviceable, re-sellable, or not. The filing numbers are: A0912020 and I1007027 (with an “i”, as in idea).

      The point is that whatever a PG&E spokesman says, rates are determined at the CPUC between lawyers and judges, ratepayer advocates and corporate managers. It’s a messy process.

      (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
  8. willie says:

    I was told ultimately you will be either bought along or forced to accept it.
    PGE stated that the transmitter will be transmitting at about the 900MHZ frequency range to a nearby transfer site within a one square mile (Requiring about 500 milliwatts to one watt of transmitting power from the antenna, a cordless hand phone is about 100 milliwatts).
    900MHZ is ultra high frequency (e.g. UHF TV) and less harmful than microwave range which is 300 to 3000 Gigihertz which can harm human tisses and organs.
    I have my doubts that they are using 900MHZ, I have a Frequency Counter and will measure the frequency when one is installed.

    (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
    • Al says:

      While I keep seeing more and more “smart meters” installed on new and service upgrades (it is now the norm}, I have yet to see a receiver up on a pole in SLO. They must be there…. When your human meter reader no longer shows up, put on your lead sweater and wait, your bills are arising.

      (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
      • willie says:

        Then it means someone or somebody is NOT being wholely upfront!

        (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
      • atasmardi says:

        All too true, re: rate hikes. I have heard from 6 friends so far (out of many PG&E consumers) who have had their rates increase by 2-3x, odd things happening now with appliances that used to work beautifully, solar panel readings go from minus numbers to plus, all this along with PG&E “public service” agents saying that the problems must be associated with the home wiring system (used to work just fine), the appliance is going sour, or some such equal lame excuse for not taking responsibility. I fear our Board of Supervisors will also engage in inaction, even though Meecham reports his utility bill doubling, as this county is held hostage to the power plant and other income benefits. The PUC needs to hear our complaints as well as PG&E, our constituents, neighbors and friends. Isn’t it interesting that the install is happening in the north county (less population density, less politically active people) rather than in SLO, going north? Easy for PG&E to point out that this is an irreversible wave now that installs have proceeded thus far. (great wool-pulling-over-eyes guys).

        (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
    • willie says:

      Correction: Looking at my residential area SLO, You would need 5 to 10 watts of power with a higher aerial antenna to transmit at 900MHZ to reach a mile and this would also require an unobstructed “line of sight” type condition. In addition to this, atmospheric condition could vary this range. Is there another HAM operator or engineer that give me feedback on this? (This is why I doubt what I been informed)

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
      • willie says:

        Especially so if they are using a duplex communication system in the Smart Meter (i.e. simultaneous transmit and receive or simultaneous talk and listen system)

        (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
      • pasowino says:

        900 Mhz has some advantages. I am a ham radio operator and we’re not permitted to use the 900 Mhz spectrum, but generally speaking, higher frequencies such as 900 Mhz, 1.2 Ghz, 2.4 Ghz are less effected by obstructions such as walls, trees, etc. I would say based on my experience transmitting in the 450 Mhz band, that 1 watt would be plenty of power for transmitting a signal 1/2 mile or so through obstructions such as trees and houses, but hills or mountains pose a problem.

        (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
        • pasowino says:

          Oh, and line of site, 1 watt may be able to travel 10 miles or more.

          (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down

Comments are closed.