A spokesperson for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. says the utility will not comply with the Marin County Board of Supervisor’s moratorium on the installation of wireless utility meters. On January 4, 2011, the Board of Supervisors approved a one-year ban on smart meter installation in the county’s unincorporated area by a 4-0 vote.
Marin County is located across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, California. The area is known for its natural beauty and its liberal politics, making the resistance to smart meters out of character on the surface. But while the potential ecological benefits of smart meters has been trumped by fears over potential health risks, concerns over the devices’ accuracy, and claims that the meters jam emergency radio frequencies.
PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith says the utility has ignored the moratorium and will continue installing the devices. Only the California Public Utilities Commission has the authority to stop the smart meter deployment. The Marin supervisors admit the board doesn't have jurisdiction over smart meters but say the point of the moratorium was largely symbolic, to send a strong message to utility executives.
Marin County has gained national attention for the passionate opposition to smart meters. In December, two female protesters were arrested for blocking a smart meter truck.
The Board of Supervisors said the moratorium was necessary because “the potential risks to the health, safety and welfare of county residents are so great.” At the Board of Supervisors meeting, several residents testified they had experienced headaches, sleeping disorders, and heart problems that they contribute to the meters.
However, the California Public Utilities Commission has given no indication that they will stop smart meter deployment.
In September, PG&E conducted an audit that concluded the new smart meters were functioning properly but did not address the concern over possible health risks, prompting opponents in Marin to demand the option of opting out of having the meters installed in their home.