San Luis Obispo County is officially throwing its voice into the SmartMeter debate.
On March 8, county supervisors voted to send a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission asking state officials to halt Pacifc Gas & Electric from installing the controversial devices until the Legislature has acted on Assembly Bill 37. The bill, proposed by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, would require the commission to identify alternative options for PG&E customers by Jan. 1, 2012, as well as give customers an opportunity to decline having a SmartMeter installed at their home.
PG&E is in the process of replacing existing energy meters with the wireless SmartMeters—the company has installed about 7 million throughout the state and about 40,000 in SLO County—but the devices have been met with fear from some who have claimed everything from increased utility bills to health risks to fears the devices can monitor customers.
Indeed, SLO County residents have the same worries, as people poured into the Board of Supervisors chambers complaining of irregular heart beats, hearing loss, and more outlandish claims that “they’re not SmartMeters; they’re spy meters.”
Company officials denied any health risks, saying the meters meet federal safety guidelines for wireless transmission devices, and the meters only measure kilowatt hours—not, for example, how often someone uses a toaster.
Some residents said they would be comfortable to have a wired SmartMeter option rather than the contentious wireless standard that has been attributed to most health claims.