Despite the order, Commission President Michael Peevey noted that the complaints were localized. “Virtually every speaker who has addressed this subject has been a PG&E customer. We have not had complaints about radio frequency emissions or other concerns about smart meters from customers of other utilities in California. For example, PG&E’s neighboring utility in Sacramento – the Sacramento Municipal Utility District – has not had any sort of customer complaints of the kind we’ve been hearing from PG&E customers. Nor have the southern California utilities.”
Even so, Peevey adds, “Nonetheless, given the continued strong interest in this issue in parts of Northern California, I have spoken directly with PG&E’s president and asked him to bring to this Commission a proposal or a series of proposals that will allow customers with an aversion to wireless devices the option of being metered without the use of wireless technology.
In other words, I am directing PG&E to prepare a proposal for our consideration that will allow some form of opt-out for customers who object to these devices at reasonable cost, to be paid by the customers who choose to opt-out. I’ve asked to have it within two weeks.”
Whether or not such a proposal would actually go into effect is not a guarantee, Peevey warned. “Obviously, I cannot prejudge how this Commission will evaluate any such proposal by PG&E, nor can I predict what PG&E itself will propose. But I think it’s clear the time has come for some kind of movement in the direction of customer opt-outs.”
SmartMeter opponents were quick to say the opt-out suggestion wasn’t enough, claiming they could still be sickened by a neighbor’s smart meter. Sandi Maurer, founder of the EMF Safety Network, told the San Francisco Chronicle, “We’re dealing with microwave radiation that’s an environmental toxin, and the opt-out is a first step. But then we need hearings on the health impacts.”
A January report from the California Council on Science and Technology found that radiation from the meters did not threaten human health in any proven way.