QUINCY, CA — A utility cooperative in rural Northern California has been ordered by Plumas County Superior Court Judge Janet Hilde to:
“…cancel the opt out fee and monthly fee for reading the analog meter, allowing Plaintiff (StopSmartMeters.org Director Josh Hart) to self-read the analog meter.”
The decision last week comes 14 months after Plumas Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC) cut the electric wires to the Hart household in February 2014 though the family have paid for their full electric usage minus the illegal “opt out” fees. During that time, they have been living without electricity in an all-electric home in the Sierra Nevada mountains, without either a fridge or hot running water, depending on a wood stove for heat, cooking, and heating water. The family is continuing to hold out and have refused to sign PSREC’s proposed agreement that would have traded Mr. Hart’s silence about the dispute over the utility’s hazardous smart meters for restoration of electricity service. “We refuse to be extorted, coerced, or silenced,” says Plaintiff and veteran anti-smart meter organizer Josh Hart. “It’s about time PSREC is held to account for its flagrant violations of disability rights. The court’s decision has vindicated our standing up to the utility and confirmed that PSREC is indeed violating the law. They must obey the law and reconnect services.”
In the small claims court case brought by Mr. Hart in March, Judge Hilde found that PSREC and its General Manager Bob Marshall violated state discrimination law. The fees: $141 to start and $15/ month to use an analog meter, were found to be illegal under CA law as the utility levied a fee for what they knew was a simple accommodation of a physician-confirmed functional impairment, or disability — the removal of RF emitting equipment from the premises.
Judge Hilde’s decision states:
“Plaintiff presented the court with a letter from his physician, stating that he has a condition, Electromagnetic Field Hypersensitivity, which causes him to suffer from headaches and other medical symptoms when exposed to radio frequency from smart meters. Plaintiff also provided the court with copy of the California Public Utility Code section 453(b) which provides in part: ‘No public utility shall prejudice, disadvantage, or require different rates or deposit amounts from a person because of ancestry, medical condition, marital status, or change in marital status, occupation, or any characteristic listed or defined in section 11135 of the Government Code’”