Momentum Building for Smart Meter Ban in Sierra Foothills Town Where PG&E Was Founded

Momentum Building for Smart Meter Ban in Sierra Foothills Town Where PG&E Was Founded

Mail Attachment 3By Josh Hart, Director

Nevada City is an old gold rush mining town in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Home to hippies, new agers, and spiritual communities, the area also attracts artists, musicians, and writers and has a thriving local culture. It feels like you are in an old western when you walk down the town’s main street.  That is, until you notice the ugly plastic wall-warts known as smart meters attached to the buildings lining Broad Street. People stand and smoke next to banks of the meters, many unknowingly getting a special two-for-one deal on carcinogens.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company– corporate villain extraordinaire- was founded in Nevada City in the 1890’s, with its first offices located at the National Hotel on Broad Street. What started small has grown so big that some officials are now saying openly what has been obvious for years—that the utility may be too large to operate safely and it’s time it was dissolved.

PG&E deployed smart meters into Nevada City in 2012. Three years of widespread negative experiences with the meters have recently come to a boiling point. In February, dozens of residents showed up to demand formal action by their council to join the 57 other local governments in California that have resisted smart meter deployment, fifteen of which have outlawed the meters.  Two of the fifteeen–Sebastopol and Fairfax–are still enforcing the ban which along with resident action has prevented PG&E from deploying fully in either city.

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While staying in Nevada City with friends in 2013, I met a woman who would become a key organizer in the area. Berry Bartolillo contacted me after becoming very sick when a bank of wireless AMI smart meters were installed on her apartment building. At that time, very few people in town were aware of the health problems with the new meters.  Having heard the same symptoms and same story thousands of times, I shook my head in disgust— and then advised her to get active.  What was needed was a local group to tackle the issue and raise awareness in the community.  Two years later, Stop Smart Meters! Nevada County is going strong, meeting weekly, and organizing the public around the immediate goal of returning the County to 100% safe analog meters.

Many in the group have been injured and subsequently sensitized to RF radiation. Conveying the health risks such exposure poses, particularly to pregnant women or the elderly, is a priority for the group. In order to get the message out, they have been canvassing outside natural food stores in town, talking to hundreds of people while handing out Stop Smart Meters! cards and brochures that include labels with local information.  Reports from the field are that many people are grateful for the info, and outraged when they learn the facts about the system that has quietly been forced into their community.

According to Berry Bartolillo, Co-Founder of Stop Smart Meters Nevada County,

I could not fathom how the state allowed this big corporation to harm its own people and still allows it to this day. The first step was going to the City and informing them about the smart grid and asking for their help. We are confident that they heard us and are working on a plan. I just hope its sooner rather than later. I’ve just received a diagnosis of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity–radiation sickness for short. Smart meters have ruined my health and my life.”

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‘Smart meters’ on electricity are not so smart

‘Smart meters’ on electricity are not so smart

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In some cases, smart meters add 20 percent to the electric cost and do not save money for customers or reduce the amount of electricity used. That’s the clear finding wherever they’ve been studied: California, Michigan, Illinois, Connecticut, Ontario and Germany also agree that they are a bad deal. Some communities have stopped them or let the homeowner opt out.

The Pennsylvania Legislature has not studied the costs or benefits, but members will soon consider removing this requirement in Act 129 (2008), which requires installation of smart meters in all our homes.

They are not cost effective and, worse yet, the utility can observe what you are doing and control your air conditioning and heat.My state representative, Mark Mustio (R-Moon), agrees that smart meters should be stopped. Do your state senator and state representative want to add another cost and control — or do they work for you?

Peter K. Sour