Update 3:56 p.m. KQED’s Stephanie Martin talked to PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno about the CPUC’s request for a SmartMeter opt-out. [audio:http://ww2.kqed.org/news/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2011/03/PGESmartMeters.mp3]
The upshot: Sounds like PG&E will file an opt-out proposal by the CPUC’s prescribed deadline. But what that proposal will consist of — the company is not yet saying.
Update 1:35 p.m. Statement from PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno:
We are aware of the CPUC’s order to file an opt-out proposal for customers by March 24. We are committed to working with our regulators to meet this deadline. We have been examining possible alternatives for the past few months in anticipation of such a filing. While this advances our timeline, we are prepared to file by the deadline set by the CPUC.
We understand that some of our customers have concerns related to radio frequency from SmartMeters. Although the great weight of scientific evidence demonstrates that the RF from SmartMeters is safe, we take our customers’ concerns seriously.
In light of our customers’ concerns, we are evaluating options we hope will alleviate customer concerns and still enable PG&E to upgrade all of its customers to SmartMeters. Our challenge is how we address our customers’ concerns while ensuring them of the enormous benefits that SmartMeters and the smart grid offer.
California regulators will ask Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to set up a process so its customers can opt out of smart meters if they have concerns about the devices’ potential health effects.
California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey says he will ask the utility to develop the proposal over the next two weeks.
Peevey’s announcement came before dozens of people and advocacy groups testified at Thursday’s commission meeting that exposure to radio frequencies and radiation from the wireless electricity and gas meters was harming people’s health.
PG&E maintains that the meters are safe. Other PUC commissioners have said they want to see more research on whether the electronic meter-reading system can impact health.
Peevey says he believes PG&E should allow customers to opt out for a “reasonable cost”.