Fairfax tries to halt SmartMeter installation

July 7, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A small Marin County town is taking on a corporate giant. Fairfax is doing what it can to stop or at least stall PG&E's plan to install SmartMeters.

A Fairfax City Council member said they are really trying to light a backfire against PG&E to help the rapid installation of the SmartMeters.

"Until the accuracy of the meters is verified, we should stop deployment," said Fairfax Vice Mayor Larry Bragman.

He says he may be delaying the inevitable, but says it is worth the fight.

"What we're trying to do in Fairfax is use the precautionary principle, which means that before we allow a new technology or new substance to get into the environment, that the proponent of technology or substance prove its safety," says Bragman.

Wednesday night, the Fairfax Council discussed adopting an ordinance suspending the installation of PG&E's SmartMeters as well as intervening and supporting the city of San Francisco, which filed a motion with the Public Utilities Commission to suspend installation of the meters until results of an independent investigation are released in August.

Some Fairfax residents are backing the city council saying "no new meters."

"I hear they're not accurate. I also hear there may be some potential health problems with them so I wait until the jury is out on that. I don't see what the problem is with the ones we currently have," says Fairfax resident Rick Neissner.

PG&E admits it's not perfect.

7 On Your Side has reported several incidents where the SmartMeters have not transmitted data correctly, resulting often times in inaccurate and extremely high utility bills.

PG&E says it is working hard to better educate its consumers.

"Once our customers find out more about the benefits of the SmartMeters, what they can do for their energy bill, how that can give them more control over their energy costs, customers are a lot more comfortable having the meters installed on their homes," says PG&E spokesman David Eisenhauer.

For now, it seems, there is a very low level of comfort in Fairfax.

"I feel like I have not gotten enough information from PG&E to make an educated decision," says Fairfax resident Milly Heim.

So far, PG&E has installed 6.1 million SmartMeters to its consumers and the PUC has not agreed to any type of moratorium.


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