Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mendocino Cty blocks PG&E Smart Meter Roll-out

Mendocino Supervisors responded to an outcry by citizens regarding the PG&E Smart Meter roll out. Supervisor Dan Hamburg(5th district) told concerned citizen in the Tuesday board meeting that PG&E had not responded adequately to the concerns heard at the Ft Bragg board meeting in October. At that meeting, two PG&E representatives presented the Smart Meter system designed to  remotely meter  power and gas, plus control of the meters via wireless communication. The meters utilize a second wireless transceiver to communicate and control upcoming Smart Appliances included Smart thermostats. Although the latter is currently voluntary, PG&E representative, Austen Sharp said that the California Public Utility Commission mandates that all houses and businesses will have smart meters and the remote control of personal home appliances.          

Hamburg coauthored a smart meter moratorium/ordinance with Supervisor John McCowan (2nd district) to protect Mendocino residents. The ordinance is similar to Marin county's, allowing the county to apply infractions to installers violating the moratorium. Current board president, Kendall Smith (4th district) noted that she has gotten more calls and letters on Smart meters then any other issue, and the other Supervisors, agreed.
             Allison Talbot of PG&E acknowledged PG&E's poor public relations and mentioned that an alternative plugged in version of the wireless device is being considered. Talbot claimed the PG&E expensive Structure study showed Smart meters were accurate. State Senator Dean Florez demanded an investigation into the different complaints. He was not satisfied with the study. The refuted overcharges are higher than can be deferred by hot weather or rate increases claimed in the study(100-500%.) Sharp responded to  a question on hacker access to  personal power usage was impossible as PG&E is using 'online banking' style security. This was refuted by Greg Krouse of Refuse Smart Meters Mendocino, who introduced AP article, “'Smart' meters have security holes: Flaws could allow hackers to tamper with power grid, researcher say,”(3/2009.)” The article quotes senior researcher , Joshua Write of InGuardians Inc: “Even though these protocols were designed recently, they exhibit security failures we've known about for the past 10 years.” Wright noted that all 5 meter makers have vulnerabilities. Austen had said that no personal data could be observed, yet Wright claims, hackers could steal data, shut down power, and inflate or lower bills.  Krouse presented 550 signatures on a recent petition and also presented San Francisco's recent petition to the CPUC to provoke  the Commission to remove smart meters as they currently stand. Krouse noted that this petition documentation of PG&E roll-out is marked with errors, and costly changes in direction by PG&E. He also noted that many effected and new Mendocino residents could not come to the board. The latter are literally running in front of the Smart Grid roll-out which has made some hypersensitive; forcing them to live in homes with the power off in shielded rooms to keep wireless out.  Two of the presenters were electro- hypersensitive. One looked very ill, as she noted her symptoms to wireless, she said she was stressed by passing cell antennas and sitting in BOS chambers with wireless devices.  Several citizens asked the board to evoke Mendocino County  precautionary principle. .About 15 people addressed the board and then the board addressed those members undeclared on the topic. Supervisor Carre Brown (1st dist) was very supportive as was John Pinches(3rd district.) They voted 5-0 to put the Smart Meter Moratorium/ordinance in place.
            The ordinance covers the unincorporated parts of the county. Each city council can consider Smart Meter moratoriums. Signs, stickers or felt tip written instructions on electric panels are the only protection citizens have from PG&E, if the utility  ignores the moratorium.
             On the 26th Sheriff Allman says he will support the moratorium as well as he can with his reduced staff. He invites residents to call his office and make reports. With this sort of support, Refuse Smart Meters Mendocino suggest that each region of the county have

Greg Krouse
Refuse Smart Meters Mendocino

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