UPDATE Dec 30: Marin Independent Journal article on today’s events. Plus: A QUEST radio report and blog post on the Smart Grid, from April, 2009.


The conflict that’s been going on in West Marin over PG&E’s installation of SmartMeters has gotten a little more volatile. Protests have taken place the past two days in Inverness, with residents trying to block the meters from being installed. From today’s Marin Independent Journal:

In an escalation of protests against Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s SmartMeters, opponents Monday and Tuesday jousted with employees of a company PG&E hired to install the meters in Inverness.

“Yesterday we got a report there were four Wellington Energy trucks going towards Inverness,” Katharina Sandizell, of Point Reyes Station, said Tuesday. “We have a phone tree, so we got together and basically stopped them…”

Opponents of the meters blocked the path to some houses as Wellington employees approached. In other cases, they videotaped and photographed the Wellington employees. Police were called by Wellington twice. No arrests were made, however.

That last line, about the no arrests? That was yesterday.

Today, two people were cited and arrested while blockading a street in Inverness, Sgt. Gary Wilbanks of the Marin County Sheriff’s Office told KQED’s Mina Kim. The women were trying to prevent installation of the meters by Wellington Energy, a PG&E contractor, which called the Sheriff’s Dept.

Katharina Sandizell, quoted in the MIJ article above, told Mina Kim that she was one of the woman arrested. Kim also happened to be talking to Sandizell before her arrest, just as the Wellington trucks pulled up. At that time, Sandizell said that about 20 sign-waving people had turned out for the protest.

Sandizell said her main complaint about the meters was that people who’d had them installed had experienced unpleasant symptoms, including dizziness, sleep disturbances, and heart palpitations. Sandizell said these effects disappeared when residents left their homes.

“PG&E is at war with their customers; it’s an undemocratic rollout,” Sandizell said, just as protesters began to block the trucks.

Listen here:

SmartMeter protest

Paul Moreno, a spokesperson for PG&E., told Mina Kim that the meters are safe, and that the radio frequency at which they transmit is well within FCC guidelines. He said PG&E has done extensive community outreach, meeting with city councils and holding town hall meetings to address questions and concerns. The company did not hold meetings in Inverness specifically, he said.

On December 2, the California Public Utility Commission rejected a request by the EMF Safety Network to halt deployment of SmartMeters, though commissioners did express an interest in seeing more research about possible health effects.

To that end, at the request of State Assembly Members Jared Huffman of Marin and Bill Monning of Santa Cruz, the California Council on Science and Technology is currently reviewing the safety of the devices. Huffman also introduced a bill allowing utility customers to opt out of the SmartMeter program.

If you want to wade further into this issue, Marin Magazine is running a good piece called Smart Meters, Dumb Idea?, about the ongoing battle in the county.

A Small War in West Marin Over SmartMeters 30 December,2010Jon Brooks

  • RobertWilliams


    Nearly 100% of scientists NOT connected to industry have found cell damage or DNA breaks or violations to the blood-brain barrier from Wireless signal radiation, even from low levels of wireless signal radiation.

    Nearly 100% of Industry scientists have NOT found any damage from wireless signal radiation.

    This is the same pattern that existed with cigarettes prior to the government finally forcing labeling of health risks.

    When dozens of top scientists in the world with the highest levels of integrity and many 100’s more find something, that trumps (displaces) the reports of those who could not find it regardless of their numbers.

    When Columbus found North America, that proves it exists regardless of thousands of previous attempts that did not find it or claimed it wasn’t there.

    So HEALTH is a relevant factor and even insurance companies support that conclusion by no longer insuring wireless radiation exposure risk.

    Insurance Companies Won’t Insure Wireless Device Risks Video (3 minutes, 13 seconds)

  • How can the anchors at KQED keep from breaking out laughing when they read stories like the one about smart-meter protests? It was the best laugh I had all week.

    Of course, on a more depressing note, the level of scientific ignorance shown by supposably educated (well at least well off) residents of Marin is disappointing.

  • Josh Finley

    These people are heroes.

    The fact is that radiation emitted by wireless devices can and does make people sick. It hits some people harder and sooner than others, but given enough exposure most people will eventually get sick from it. I, for instance, experience nausea, anxiety, dizziness, a feeling of pressure in the front of my head, and a debilitating inability to think clearly when in close proximity to wireless technology. These symptoms are worst from digital devices that use pulsed signals in the 2 Ghz range, but occur to a lesser degree from lower-frequency exposures (like 900 Mhz cordless phones). Independent reports of similar symptoms from microwave exposure are coming from thousands of people all over the world, and children appear to be especially susceptible.

    Doctors in some parts of the world have noticed this, too, and several thousand of them have signed a document calling for a moratorium on further rollout of wireless technologies. See:

    The future is wired.

    Learn more at:


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of EconomyBeat.org, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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