San Rafael group protests PG&E SmartMeters

December 15, 2010 11:32:49 AM PST
A group of women gathered at a PG&E office in San Rafael on Tuesday to protest the utility's installation of SmartMeters in Marin County.

The women, part of the group West Marin Citizens Against Wireless SmartMeters, shut down a PG&E billing center at 750 Lindaro St. for a couple of hours on Tuesday, said Katharina Sandizell, a co-director of the group.

PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith said some protesters "entered the lobby area, and made it a challenge for us to properly serve our customers."

"In order to maintain our customers privacy, we temporarily suspended operations to make sure we could pay proper focus to our customers," he said.

Dozens of people attended a Marin County Board of Supervisors meeting earlier Tuesday to ask the board to pass a moratorium on installing the meters, which collect information on electricity and natural gas usage from homes and businesses and transmit the data remotely to a wireless communication network.

SmartMeter opponents claim the system emits potentially dangerous electromagnetic radiation, invades privacy by collecting details about people's private lives, such as when they wake up or go on vacation, and has had inaccurate meter readings.

After Tuesday's board meeting, about 20 women gathered around noon at the billing center to "ask for basic information that PG&E has still yet to give us," Sandizell said.

She said the group believes the emissions from the SmartMeters exceed Federal Communications Commission standards, and is asking PG&E to provide FCC compliance papers and data to show that the meters are safe.

No one was arrested in connection with the protest, which Sandizell hopes will spur some action by the Board of Supervisors.

She pointed out that some local governments have called for SmartMeter moratoriums, and said it is time for Marin County to do the same.

"Until now, the Board of Supervisors said they don't have jurisdiction, but they have to take the power," Sandizell said. "Our local government needs to take more of a leadership stance when people feel their health may be impacted."


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