After months of bickering between detractors and supporters over Smart Meters, which would replace analog meters in an effort to conserve energy during peak consumption hours, the California Public Utilities Commission finally approved a delay program that will allow customers to defer in-home installation of the controversial device until officials can reach a more conclusive decision. Commissioner Michael Peevey’s September 21 ruling requires that Southern Edison and PG&E adopt a delay list for homeowners who choose to keep their analog meters until they receive authorization to install the Smart Meters.

The ruling came after the Consumers Power Alliance’s efforts to express growing public concern over the meter’s supposed health and safety risks and anger over “unapproved” installation of the device in customers’ homes. The CPA and members of the public have insisted that the Smart Meter’s low-level radio waves could interfere with sensitive pacemakers and potentially cause insomnia, migraines, and other electronic-induced ailments. There is also concern over personal information on the meters that could be intercepted by hackers or government agencies. Many customers have expressed dismay over the rising price rates for energy used during peak consumption hours, which the Smart Meter logs on an hourly basis.

Despite S.B. County Health Director Takashi Michael Wada’s assurance that the Smart Meter – reported to help reduce energy consumption by 12 percent and cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 350,000 tons every year – is no more dangerous than a cell phone, the public took the issue to the county supervisors in July and to the city council in August. Both meetings resulted in a decision to address a letter – which originally asked for a total opt-out program – to CPUC that resulted in this recent “delay list” ruling. The CPUC had originally approved the device in 2008.


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