The California Public Utilities Commission called Sebastopol’s moratorium on the installation of SmartMeters ‘unlawful and unenforceable’ in a letter sent to city officials Friday.
Sebastopol and PG&E appear to be on a collision course following the city’s adoption Thursday of a ban on the installation of SmartMeters, the controversial wireless devices that critics contend are a threat to public health.
Two hundred people turned out Thursday in Santa Rosa to rail against PG&E SmartMeters, complaining that individual opt-out fees are unfair, that cities should be able to get out of the program and that the wireless technology is a health threat.
PG&E will continue to install SmartMeters in Sebastopol over the objections of city leaders, who had sought a delay until state regulators conclude hearings on new opt-out procedures. A PG&E spokesman on Thursday said delaying installation of gas and electric SmartMeters in Sebastopol would ‘disadvantage’ customers who want the devices. The City Council voted 5-0 on July 19 to ask PG&E not to install any more meters within city limits until the state Public Utilities Commission concludes hearings on how groups or communities could opt out of having the devices installed.
The Sebastopol City Council approved an emergency measure Thursday night asking PG&E to delay installation of SmartMeters in the city until state regulators conclude hearings on new opt-out procedures.
About 4,400 PG&E Co. customers opted out of the utility’s controversial SmartMeter program — including nearly 500 in Sonoma and Mendocino counties — in the two weeks after state regulators first gave them the choice. Critics say more would keep their old analog meters if the cost was not so expensive – a one-time $75 fee and a monthly charge of $10.
PG&E wants to give customers concerned about radio wave emissions from its new SmartMeters the choice of retaining conventional meters — for a fee. The utility’s action comes in response to objections to SmartMeters, the devices that monitor customers’ electricity and natural gas consumption and transmit the data to PG&E.