Northern California continues to protest Smart Meters
January 31, 2011
As PG&E continues to install wireless Smart Meters across San Luis Obispo County, the debate surrounding the controversial equipment continues to spark across northern California. [NY Times]
An eclectic mix of right-wing Tea Party members and left-leaning environmentalists are joining forces to try the stop further use of Smart Meter technology.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, “Stop Smart Meters” signs and bumper stickers have been multiplying on front lawns and cars. Four protesters have been arrested for blocking trucks seeking to deliver the meters.
And in Santa Cruz County, the Board of Supervisors recently extended a yearlong moratorium on installations. Officials in Marin County, north of San Francisco, approved a ban this month on meters in unincorporated, largely rural areas, where about a quarter of its population lives.
At first, the backlash against PG&E focused on the notion that the meters were giving artificially high readings, but that died down after studies confirmed their overall accuracy.
The new wave of protests comes from conservatives and individualists who view the monitoring of home appliances as a breach of privacy, as well as from a cadre of environmental health campaigners who see the meters’ radio-frequency radiation — like emissions from cellphones and other common devices — as a health threat.
The health concerns about the smart meters focus on the phenomenon known as “electromagnetic hypersensitivity,” or E.H.S., in which people claim that radiation from cellphones, WiFi systems or smart meters causes them to suffer dizziness, fatigue, headaches, sleeplessness or heart palpitations.
The two most recent government reviews of available research found no link between health problems and common levels of electromagnetic radiation. Both reports indicated that more research would be welcome; on that basis, opponents say the meters should not be installed until they are proved safe.
Since 2006, PG&E has installed more than seven million of the devices, which transmit real-time data on customers’ use of electricity.