1-year Marin Co. SmartMeter moratorium approved

January 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
There's now a year-long moratorium on SmartMeters in parts of Marin County. It affects unincorporated areas and follows heated protests by neighbors over health concerns. PG&E says more than seven million SmartMeters have been installed in California and the plan is to rollout 10 million by 2012.

Many residents cheered after supervisors passed the one-year moratorium. The confrontation with PG&E's contractor escalated nearly a week ago when two women from Inverness and Point Reyes Station were arrested. They were trying to stop the installations.

"In a sleepy town like Inverness, a tiny town, to bring in 10 trucks feels very intimidating, so we felt we had to get in the street and say 'no,'" Katharina Sandizell from the Point Reyes station said.

Dozens of Marin residents opposed to the SmartMeters voiced their concerns.

"To come onto my property and arbitrarily install a dangerous device without my permission, I really resent it," one resident said.

PG&E maintains the devices are safe. A similar moratorium was adopted in nearby Fairfax and former mayor Frank Egger says Tuesday's ordinance means residents can call local law enforcement to help discourage an installation.

"And the police department can ask the installer to leave the property. I don't think they are going to tell police 'no, we're not leaving, we are going to install a SmartMeter,'" he said.

But PG&E says it has a legal right to go into a property per the California Public Utilities Commission, but will likely not force their way in.

"Legally, I believe we do have the right to go in, but it's not our intention to disregard our customers' wishes," PG&E spokesperson Katie Romans said.

In the meantime, lawmakers in Sacramento are considering a bill that would allow people to choose between the current wireless SmartMeter and a wired one.

"We need to ensure that the public has a full range of choices," Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams said.

The moratorium goes into effect immediately and expires on Dec. 31, 2011. During this period, the board would like to review some upcoming studies regarding the safety of these devices.