Opt Out Cop Out

A dual-circuit 230 kV Pacific Gas and Electric...

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The opponents of wireless technology scored a victory of sorts in California with the action by the California Public Utilities Commission to order PG&E to serve up “options” for opting out of having a wireless smart meter.  The CPUC will consider whether the options are “reasonable” and whether customers or the Utility should pay for this alternative.

PG&E must hate this, but recognizes that the electromagnetic field opponents will not go away so they will be co-opted with an opt-out.

In the case of this dispute the smart meter is merely an innocent bystander to a broader controversy over electric magnetic fields (EMF) that has been around since the first electric high voltage transmission line was built.  Today building such lines is so difficult we rarely hear the EMF complaint because it is far down the list of NIMBY causes of action the lines are killed off before EMF can be resurrected.

But it’s back!

I’ll spare you the litany of scientific studies which claim no materially adverse impacts from EMFs for smart meters or transmission lines for that matter—but no matter—the true believers still believe. So in the squeaky wheel gets some grease logic of public utility regulation the CPUC will lubricate the EMF crowd with an opt-out provision.  If the solution is as simple as hard-wiring the meter to the resident’s internet connection or phone line then it may die a natural death.  If it is unreasonably costly to opt-out there will be another fight over who pays.

It is curious that this problem seems confined to PG&E and, as CPUC President Peevey said the Commission rarely gets these kinds of complaints from any service territory other than PG&E.

I know from my own experience with this blog that anytime I write on this topic I will be peppered with comments from the EMF crowd.  They are quick, persistent and passionate and they will not take “no problem” for an answer. So the “opt out” option is the CPUC’s attempt to get them to go away.

It will not work.