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02.17.10

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No Thanks, PG&E

Why a smart meter moratorium is the smart thing indeed

By Sandi Maurer

Beginning this month, PG&E smart meters are planned for deployment on every home and business in Sonoma County. Lampposts, buildings and telephone poles will host the wireless repeater infrastructure to serve the new wireless PG&E smart meters.

The Utility Reform Network (TURN), a statewide 15,000-member coalition, says the new PG&E smart meters are "a dumb idea." Customers, they say, are paying for this, but there's no return on their investment. They, along with state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, are calling for an investigation and a moratorium on the new meters. In Florez's Bakersfield district, where smart meters are already in place, residents have complained of skyrocketing utility bills and have filed a class-action lawsuit against PG&E.

Medical and science journalist Blake Levitt echoes TURN's position, arguing, "Smart grids are a spectacularly dumb idea. And it's a wonder that so many genuinely smart people don't get that. In our headlong rush toward anything green, we might just be doing far more harm than good. This writer has yet to find a single person who, once given the details of what smart grids entail, thinks this is smart in any way."

Cindy Sage, co-editor of the Bioinitiative Report writes, "Why put billions into new wireless technologies that are already recognized to come with a health price-tag . . . when—yes—as a nation our number one imperative is to reduce out-of-control health care costs."

Smart meters emit radio frequency (RF)/microwave radiation throughout the day and night. Two independent professionals measured smart meters and found they emit RF signals once or more every minute, on a random basis. In Sebastopol alone, this would amount to over 6 million new signals a day, not including signals from the repeater system. These wireless signals penetrate walls and buildings, and are re-radiated throughout homes and businesses by electrical wiring, metal plumbing, gas lines, metal fences, etc.

This is electrosmog!

The Bioinitiative Report, which is recognized by the European Parliament, the European Environment Agency, the Breast Cancer Fund and others, scientifically documents evidence of health effects at RF exposure levels far below the FCC safety standards, including DNA breaks, free radical production, cell stress, premature aging, memory loss, learning impairment, headaches, fatigue, sleep disturbance, reduction in melatonin secretion and cancers. The exponential increase in the use of wireless technologies presents serious public health risks. Children, pregnant women, seniors, those with medical implants and compromised immune systems are most vulnerable.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Toxicology Program are currently studying RF. The intention of the 13-country, $30 million WHO Interphone study was to determine whether or not RF was a carcinogen. The updated results of this study found significantly increased risk of a glioma, a deadly brain tumor. Brain cancer is now the leading cancer death in children in the United States.

At a recent city council meeting in Sebastopol, a PG&E representative stated that the smart grid is environmentally sustainable, and its goal is to help consumers reduce their carbon footprint. The entire concept of the smart grid rests on the unfettered use of RF throughout our homes and businesses. All appliances will be retrofitted with antennas, or consumers will need to purchase new "smart" appliances, plus an interior meter to monitor usage.

The federal government has given $3.4 billion in stimulus funds for building out the smart grid! How much additional energy will it take to power all these new RF transmissions? Isn't it smarter to leave appliances unplugged?

Cindy Sage writes, "Consumers may decide not to allow power transmitters inside their homes. Neither the federal government nor the states can force families to do so. What if consumers reject this system? Is it then true that this smart grid system will fail in its purpose? Why then would the federal government subsidize a 'failed program'?"

Based in Sebastopol, the EMF Safety Network has collected over 1,000 signatures on its petition calling for public hearings and a moratorium on the PG&E smart meters. Join us in calling for all cities and Sonoma County to impose an immediate moratorium on Smart Meters.

To sign the petition or learn more, go to www.emfsafetynetwork.org.

Sandi Maurer is a 30-year resident of Sonoma County who founded the EMF Safety Network website, an accumulation of several years of research into the health risks from EMF and wireless technology.

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 700 words considered for publication, write openmic@bohemian.com.


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