Wednesday, January 26, 2011

FORMER PG&E CONTRACTOR ALLEGES SMART METER SAFETY LAPSES Smart Meter Ignition Risk “Could Lead to Another San Bruno”

January 26, 2011

Smart Meter Ignition Risk “Could Lead to Another San Bruno”
Joshua Hart
Director, Stop Smart Meters!

San Francisco- A former employee of Wellington Energy, a company under contract with PG&E to install 10 million wireless ‘smart’ meters throughout California, has decided to go public today with allegations that he believes the company is risking public safety by installing meters that pose a fire risk and failing to train meter technicians adequately. The former employee- who has opted to keep his identity secret- worked for Wellington Energy for four months in 2010. During that time, he observed practices that- in his opinion- could result in one of the new meters producing an “arc” and igniting a gas leak. At the time of the fatal explosion in September, the City of San Bruno was fully installed with the new meters. Questions to the CPUC and PG&E about what precautions were taken before installing the new wireless meters (that have the potential to produce sparks) in close proximity to natural gas equipment have so far gone unanswered.

In an exclusive interview with StopSmartMeters.Org, the Wellington Whistleblower (WW) told of numerous instances where he heard managers tell his co-workers, “you could have burned that goddamned house down.” The former Wellington employee reports that if installation is carried out incorrectly, the meters can create an arc, or electrical current between two wires. Such an arc has the potential to ignite any gas leak that may be present in the area.

WW also describes a workplace increasingly under pressure between managers who have to meet high installation targets, and the general public, who are increasingly resistant to allowing the meters. Aside from being linked with a number of health symptoms such as sleeplessness, tinnitus, headaches, and nausea, ‘smart’ meters are also implicated in billing inaccuracies, breaches in privacy, and a whole host of electronic interference issues. According to WW, “Most residents who had looked into the issue on their own did not want the meters installed. We were dealing with an increasingly resistant public. Forcing these meters on people makes the job really difficult and stressful. A few of my colleagues reported that the police were called on them multiple times.”

Having installed hundreds of meters in Santa Cruz County, WW conveyed the potential safety threat to this area: “I do feel that Scotts Valley, Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond, Corralitos, to name a few should be informed enough to prepare for what could realistically turn into another San Bruno….I hope we can get regulators to pay attention on this as I believe there is a real chance of more people getting hurt if nothing is done.”

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