Smart Meters Get Thumbs Down In Small California Town

In what will likely be one of many small battles utility companies around the nation see as they roll out smart meters in coming years, a town in Marin County, California has asked that state’s public utilities commission to put a halt to plans by local utility Pacific Gas & Electric to install smart meters in residents’ homes. Fairfax, according to TreeHugger, believes the meters may be a health risk to locals because of the fact they are wireless.

This doesn’t seem to be the only issue at hand in Fairfax, however, according to the local newspaper Marin Independent Journal. The paper states that the city supports “the Marin Clean Energy plan, which is competing with PG&E for customers.” Whether or not this is influencing the city to request that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) put a stop to PG&E’s plans is unknown, but Fairfax’s town council earlier this week approved a letter [PDF] to be sent to the CPUC which talks about what is believed to be health risks due to the “intensity” of “pulses of very-short duration but quite-strong radio frequency radiation (RFR) throughout each day” sent by the wireless meters to PG&E for data collection purposes.

smart meter

Image via PG&E

Fairfax argues in its letter that these intense pulses “will be nearly 1,000 times the radiation emission of a typical cell phone’s output; the human body is bioelectric in nature, and has not evolved to handle ongoing exposure to even very-short exposures of that enormous magnitude, which subject the County’s residents to the potential for developing a variety of health problems.” Also outlined in this letter are other concerns over the smart meter program, along with a request for “an independent third party review of the issues” and a request to let Fairfax residents opt out if they don’t want the meters installed. PG&E, for its part, has publicly stated that the wireless signals from the meters were “well within the limits” of standard safety regulations.

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I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.