The number of false “facts” about the so-called “smart’meters is growing at an alarming rate. The “fish stories” are primarily spread by PG&E. This article intends to help clarify the factual basis of those topics we feel are most important.
Myth 1: The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC or CPUC) has all legal authority over Smartmeters.
Truth 1: The California Public Utilities Commission does have primary legal authority over Smartmeters; they even have some extraordinary Constitutional authority (which should be removed). However, Cities and Counties also have Constitutional authority to protect our health and safety.
However, no private corporation, such as a Utility corporations like PG&E, has any legal authority to tell a city what to do, other than when the city has agreed to a contract.
There are at least 3 ways cities and counties do have legal authority to restrict, control or halt smartmeters.
While I am not a lawyer, I have more than a little familiarity with the structure and practice of California law.
1. Many California Cities and Counties have “Franchise” agreements with Utility corporations including PG&E. A city can revoke these franchise agreements when there is a breech of contract (these occur all the time), cities can also amend the agreements, or invite proposals from PG&E’s competitors – and insist on including smartmeter restrictions.
2. Many California Cities and Counties are “Chartered” (e.g. San Francisco, Monterey and Pacific Grove) which dramatically increases their legal power over smartmeters compared to the PUC’s authority.
3. Some California Cities have created their own Utility District or “Power Agency” (such as Santa Clara, Palo Alto and Alameda) giving them almost complete authority over smartmeters. This makes the PUC go away for those cities.
Also see another legal analysis by former Fairfax mayor Frank Egger at http://stopsmartmeters.org/how-you-can-stop-smart-meters/ (Page down to section 10)
Frank points out “California cities (480) and counties (58) have the right to protect the health, safety and welfare of their residents, period.”
He also points out that a city or county can adopt “a Telecommunications Ordinance that governs antennae and either wireless or wired transmitters in your community.”
Myth 2: There is no evidence of harm from the radio frequency emitted by ‘Smart’meters.”
Truth 2: There is scientific evidence of harm from the radio frequency emitted by ‘Smart’meters.” (See: “Finally-The First Official Recognition that Cell-Phones Could Cause Malignant Brain Cancer” and “Carmel Pine Cone’s Paul Miller – Wrong Again: Apparently Cell Phones Can Cause Head Tumors“). There is a scientific dispute on how strong the evidence is, and how large the harm and risk is.
Myth 3: Our Public Utilities Commission (PUC) or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Ordered PG&E to Install wireless Smartmeters.
Truth 3: PG&E asked our Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to allow them to install radio-frequency Smartmeters. It was not the PUC’s idea. PG&E’s original request was for “wired” (not wireless) smartmeters.
The PUC approved the wired request in 2006. Later PG&E added the radio-frequency (wireless) part to the already approved wired Smartmeter part.
The PUC approved the second request allowing wireless smartmeters in 2009. It is not clear if the PUC approval legally requires PG&E to install Smartmeters. It is clear that PG&E wants to install them and has even forced them on citizens who do not want them.
There has never been any Environmental impact analysis on Smartmeters (wired or wireless) under CEQA or NEPA for any approval in the US. The FCC has not approved or required any ‘Smart’meter installation.