SV council joins SmartMeter petitions

On camera: Shown are Scotts Valley activist Joshua Hart (left) and a technician from Wellington Energy Inc., a Pennsylvania-based company that, according to its website, was selected by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to “lead a supply chain, work asset management, meter-module installation and deployment portions” of its SmartMeter program. Hart, the leader of a campaign against SmartMeter in Scotts Valley, videotaped the man and told him to stop installing the meter. The man called his office and departed. Peter Burke/Press-Banner

The city of Scotts Valley joined the city and county of San Francisco, the city and county of Santa Cruz, the city of Capitola and other municipalities last week in two petitions that call into question Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s SmartMeter.

On July 21, the Scotts Valley City Council voted 4-1 to join two petitions to investigate the digital gas and electricity meters that use wireless technology to transmit readings daily to the company. Randy Johnson was the lone “no” vote.

The city’s decision, however, will not halt the installation of the meters in Scotts Valley. The California Public Utilities Commission, the governing body that oversees PG&E, approved the SmartMeter technology several years ago, and PG&E contends the meters are safe and accurate.

More than 6 million

of PG&E’s 10 million

new meters have already been set up in California, according to PG&E figures, and the first of them arrived in Scotts Valley last week.

The petition started by the city and county of San Francisco seeks to keep the utility from putting in more meters until billing problems are resolved. The state utilities commission has received more than 1,000 billing complaints since 2007.

The second petition is from a San Francisco-based group called the EMF Safety Network. It calls for a thorough study of the potential health effects of the wireless technology used to transmit the data.

Joshua Hart, a Scotts Valley resident who has headed up a group called Scotts Valley Neighbors Against Smart Meters, said he was pleased to see the council sign onto both petitions.

“It was really important, because cities are really starting to speak up about the EMF, not just the billing,” Hart said.

Hart and his group will visit the utilities commission in San Francisco to protest the meters, and, he has been riding his bicycle around Scotts Valley to make note of workers who are installing the meters.

On Monday, July 26,

Hart walked up to a worker from PG&E contractor Wellington Energy Inc. and asked him to stop installing a meter on a Christel Oaks Drive home in Scotts Valley. The man made a phone call and then returned to his truck and drove away.

Hart walked the neighborhood talking to anyone who would listen about the new meters.

Another resident stood in the street watching the proceedings.

“I did appreciate being alerted by a grassroots person, because I approved these things,” said Julie Egdahl, who lives on Christel Oaks Drive.

“I want some more balanced information.”

For billing and health-related questions, customers can call the PG&E SmartMeter hotline at 866-743-0263.

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