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Smart Meter Protesters Crowd Hearing in Los Angeles
January 10, 2013 - By Shane Gregory
PHOTO BY SHANE GREGORY
Elizabeth Barris (second from left) and protestors from as far away as Frazier Park and Mt. Baldy demonstrated against installation of smart meters before Dec. 17, 2012, meeting with CPUC.
More than 100 people attended the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) hearing on Dec. 17, with about 60 speakers protesting the installation of smart meters in their homes.
People from as far away as Frazier Park and Mt. Baldy joined Elizabeth Barris Topanga contingent to demonstrate on the street in front of the Junipero Serra Building before the 6 p.m. meeting began.
Articulate speakers addressed issues such as opt-out fees, health, privacy, security and costs, but the general tone was outrage that there would be any charge to opt out, especially for low-income people living in multi-family residences with multiple meters who cannot afford to opt out. The word extortion was commonly used in most of the speakers testimonials.
A group from Mt. Baldy made the point that they do not even have a cell network there, so the meters dont even functionyet they were deployed.
Two people hobbled in on broken feet and an elderly woman made the trip on public transportation, a challenging and potentially dangerous choice at night. Several Occupy activists were in attendance, along with S-meter veterans and several who had just learned about smart meters.
Judge Yip-Kikugawa seemed to be a compassionate listener. Several people asked why there were no commissioners at the hearing and she replied that they would be provided with a transcript of all the hearings. Still and all, people were outraged that commissioners were not present.
Southern California Edison representatives were there to answer questions, information that was met with guffaws, seeing as there were considerably fewer utility representatives present compared to the last L.A. hearing.
Ratepayers whose bills had gone up presented documentation. At least a dozen people whose health has been affected spoke about their experiences. Quite a few spoke about the hum that so many hear after grids go up, and someone made the point that even if people do opt out, they are still affected by the grid. Those who have been made homeless related their experiences; a veterinarian spoke eloquently, as did a criminal defense attorney who was new to the topic.
Michael R. Peevey, President of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) was absent, which many attendees said went a long way to creating a more communicative atmosphere. Each speaker had three minutes to testify and most took the whole allotment.
Judge Yip-Kikugawa said that she would be writing an opinion that commissioners may or may not accept and that a decision would probably be reached in the spring.
Transcripts will be available to the public, but at a per-page charge. Another option is to arrange for a transcript from the CPUC to be sent to a local library where it could be read at no charge.
For more information on the Smart Meter campaign, go to stopsmartmeters.org.