ALERT! Implications of the Final CPUC Phase 2 Opt-0ut Decision 12/23/14

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Center for Electrosmog Prevention has participated formally in the CPUC Smart Meter Opt-out Phase 1 and 2 proceedings and the Smart Grid proceedings, since May, 2011, representing utility customers for all the major California utilities – SDG&E, PG&E, SoCA Edison, and SoCA Gas. Several other organizations, such as Ecological Options Network, EMF Safety Network, Southern Californians for a Wired Solution and a number of others, have also worked tirelessly during this period. We are most grateful to them all.
A decision has been finalized in the second opt-out proceeding and it is imperative to know the details so you can know and receive your rights from your utility if you will or are opting out of smart meters. The decision may lead to more people opting out, as the costs have gone down – after three years of opting out, you will not pay any more.
These are the pro’s, con’s, and pertinent points from the California Public Utility Comission’s Smart Meter Opt-out Phase 2 Final Decision, recently adopted by the CPUC on Dec. 18, 2014 and published, December 23, 2014. This Opt-out Phase 2 Final Decision was adopted after the proceeding was “stalled” for two years, and without taking discussion on all within its scope, prematurely and deliberately, just before the holidays, when many were away or busy. It was also rushed into a decision by outgoing, embattled CPUC Commission President Michael Peevey, in his final month of office. This holiday issuance appears to be a longtime custom of the CPUC for controversial proceedings.
Please note: Many of the points below will impact YOU, and some will save you money and time. Please read carefully and share widely. For instance, smart meter opt-out fees will be charged for each customer for three years only. Meters will be read every other month. Every opt-out customer must have an analog-only meter.  These are but a few.
Pro’s: [Note: CEP would like all smart meters banned and removed, with all costs assumed by the utilities, taken out of their profits – but in the interim, the following can be considered positives in the midst of a dire situation.]
  1. Fees will not be raised above interim fees, to be capped at $75 to sign up for smart meter opt-out program and monthly charge $10.00 to cover meter reading and other expenses; CARE (low income) customers pay $10/$5). (CEP requested NO FEES, this was not granted. However, fees could have been raised and weren’t. CEP emphasized what a burden the fees were.)
  2. IMPORTANT: Limits all fees to the first three years of each customer’s opt-out period – customers who signed up in May, 2012 should make sure they are not paying opt-out fees after the three year deadline. NOTE: This ruling partially adopts CEP’s request to socialize costs (within the general rates), by spreading it across the customer base.
  3. IMPORTANT: Meters will now be read every two months vs. every month. This will help those who must be present when the meters are read, when the meters are in their fenced, locked  backyards, etc. NOTE: This ruling partially adopts CEP’s insistence during proceedings that reading the meters less often is do-able and lowers costs.
  4. IMPORTANT: The decision socializes all additional costs to customer base and may issue refunds to customer base, based on actual costs of opt-out;
  5. The decision causes dual commodities covered by one fee for single utility customer. NOTE: Thjs decision partially adoptes CEP’s stance to socialize costs.
  6. The decision determined that fees based will be on location not number of meters (may open up possibility of multiple meter single charge for multiple customer location);
  7. The decision does not allow any exit fees, which were sought by the utilities. NOTE: This ruling partially adopts CEP’s insistence during proceedings that all means possible should lower opt-out costs for customers.
  8. IMPORTANT: ALL customers must receive an analog-only meter (a “legacy” meter – ie. electromechanical, not an electronic or wireless meter). [This appears to change what Edison has been doing, with regards  to some of its customers so far in the opt-out – by replacing the current smart meter with the digital (sometimes wireless) meters that customers had prior to these.] NOTE: This ruling partially adopts CEP’s insistence that analog meters only be used for the opt-out, by all utilities.
  1. Health and safety was not allowed to be within the scope of this proceeding, violating the CPUC’s own policies; CEP has taken the stance that health and safety MUST be considered under state law and CPUC policy, both of which are being ignored by the CPUC so far, in smart meter and smart grid proceedings.
  2. Fees of any kind are viewed as unjust and illegal by Center for Electrosmog Prevention, due to forcing people to pay for safety and for medical needs – not to be exposed to 24/7, hazardous, pulsed microwave rf radiation, not to be continuously irradiated;
  3. Unsafe smart meters will continue to be used in the general community, exposing the general population to hazards, even if some opt-out, this is not a sufficient reduction in exposure – CEP feels that smart meters should be banned and removed, replaced by safe, electromechanical analog meters, and that no benefit justifies harm to the public, ignoring hazards;
  4. This decision does not allow non-residential (commercial opt-out. It does not allow commercial opt-outs. Some small businesses have smart meters inside or outside, very close to employee or customer areas.
  5. Opt-out fees potentially will be raised in the future as part of a general rate case request;
  6. The decision does not allow community opt-outs (by local gov’ts and multi-family unit dwellings) even though 57 California municipalities, including 12 counties, have indicated they do not want hazardous smart meters in their jurisdiction.
  7. The decision ignores highly hazardous banks of smart meters located near or on living spaces such as multi-family unit dwellings;
  8. The decision does not address exposure to neighbors’ smart meters for those who wish to avoid microwave rf radiation exposure for prevention or due to current illness; forces customers with two  utilities (SDG&E or Edison and So CA Gas) to pay double fees for one location (residence);
  9. The decision does not recognize that fees violate state and federal laws concerning right to safety without additional cost, discrimination or disabled customer rights;
  10. The decision does not recognize that people with a wide variety of medical conditions may be impacted by smart meter radiation or that smart meters may actually cause medical conditions, and as such, are advised by American Academy of Environmental Medicine (, a highly respected professional physicians’ association with many hundreds of members) not to have a smart meter on their residence and that the AAEM and other scientists and experts have repeatedly warned the CPUC about the dangers of smart meters and that the World Health Organization has determined this type of radiation to be a potential carcinogen, that the American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC has warned the public and parents of children to reduce their exposure to rf radiation due to potential health impacts supported by thousands of peer-reviewed studies.
CEP plans to file an appeal for this decision.
Points of interest from the final decision, below, with page citations.
Adopts fees and charges for opt-out customers, same fees as interim fees (initial fee $75 and monthly charge 10.00; CARE (low income) customers $10/$5). (p. 3)
Limits individual customer payments to three years from the date the customer chooses to opt-out; after 3
years, additional costs are socialized within “residential customer class as a whole”. (p. 3) (p. 80 SDG&E)
Each utility should collect opt-out fees and charges on a per location, not per meter, basis. (p. 777 # 20)
Customers with two utilities must pay separate opt-out fees to each utility. (p. 77, #22)
For dual commodity utilities, opt-out fees cover both electric and gas. (p. 77 #21)
Exit fees shall not be assessed to opt-out customers (.p 77 #23)
Allows utilities to recover actual costs up to a capped amount (SDGE $1.447 million  compared to PG&E
$35.344 million and SC Edison $20.463 million, So CA Gas $4.5 million) in recovery from fees. “The remaining portion of revenue requirements collected from the opt-out charges are to be allocated to the residential customer class as a whole” (p. 3)
“14. All parties agree that the only opt-out option should be an all-analog meter.” (p. 74, #14)
Opt-out option not available to non-residential customers (#16. p. 74)
Utilities must revise opt-out programs to provide for estimated monthly bills with a true-up (meter read)
every other month. Bimonthly meter reading will lower …. costs. (p. 82) 24. The utilities should offer bi-
monthly meter reading with estimated bills and levelized payment plans to customers selecting the opt-out
option. (p. 77 #24)
Costs will be evaluated on an ongoing basis via the next General Rate Cases, whereupon each utility may
propose adjustments to the opt-out charges and fees adopted in this decision in the future (p. 4)
SDG&E orders on p. 80-81)
Over-or under collected revenue shall be allocated or refunded to the residential customer class in the next
available General Rate Case(s). (p. 80)
A rate cap on opt-out fees and charges should be established so customers are not unreasonably deterred
from electing this option. (p. 76)
Local governments and multi-unit dwellings may not collectively opt-out on behalf of residents.
Charging an opt-out fee does not violate the Americans With Disabilities Act or Public Utilities Code Section
21. The Legislature has granted the Commission authority over a public utility’s infrastructure,
including the installation of electric or gas metering equipment.
• Residential electric service is offered only at a customer’s location, not in a public, physical
• It is unclear that an RF-enabled electric or gas meter is a public, physical facility subject to the ADA.
• The opt-out fees and charges are imposed on all customers, regardless of disability status.
• Opt-out fees and charges are assessed to recover costs associated with providing opt-out
customers with a different service from the standard service established for utility customers.
• RF sensitivity is not defined as a characteristic protected under Gov. Code § 11135.
(p. 74)
27. The opt-out fees and charges are not an impermissible surcharge required only of persons who
opt-out for medical reasons. (p. 77)
28. No court or agency has found that RF sensitivity is a “disability” or “psychological disorder”
subject to the ADA.
29. The IOU’s provision of an opt-out service does not fall within the scope of Title III of the ADA.
30. The opt-out fees and charges do not violate the ADA.
31. The opt-out fees and charges do not violate Pub. Util. Code § 453(b). (p. 77)
 Applications (opt-out proceedings) are closed. 26. Applications 11-03-014, 11-03-015 and 11-07-020 are closed. “This order is effective today. Dated December 18, 2014, at San Francisco, California. ” (p 83)
 Please consider supporting Center for Electrosmog Prevention, which is one of the very few organizations in  California advocating for consumer rights regarding smart meter issues. Even if you don’t live in California, what happens in California also usually sweeps the nation.

Susan Brinchman
Director, Center for Electrosmog Prevention, a CA nonprofit

Center for Electrosmog Prevention
P.O. Box 655
La Mesa, CA
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Written on a wired and shielded computer, with the wireless switched off and extended keyboard and mouse attached.

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