Chad Deal 6:58 p.m., May 21
Group Wants Out of SDG&E Smart Meter Program
La Mesa resident Susan Brinchman says she has felt the consequences from having a smart meter on the other side of her bedroom wall. The meters send and collect data from surrounding meters using radio-frequency waves. And according to San Diego Gas and Electric, the energy emitted from the meters are "far below" federal guidelines, on par with devices such as baby monitors and cell phones. Brinchman, however, disagrees.
Shortly after an SDG&E technician came to her house in May 2010, Brinchman says she began to experience constant, low-grade headaches, and her ears began ringing. Six months later, doctors found a spot, later identified as skin cancer, on the side of her face. She blames all of it on the electromagnetic frequencies emitted from the meters.
"I sent a doctor's letter to San Diego Gas and Electric and called them about my health issues and they said there was no way that they would remove it," says Brinchman. "[SDG&E] actually said that my doctor was wrong."
Since then, Brinchman started up the non-profit Center for Electrosmog Prevention, to provide information on the dangers of smart meters. She would like to inform SDG&E's 1.4 million customers of the dangers of smart meters and eventually convince the state's Public Utilities Commission to allow customers to opt out of the smart-meter program.
That's what happened last March in Northern California after customers of Pacific Gas and Electric convinced the Public Utilities Commission to provide opt-out options for customers. Since then, 46 municipalities and 9 counties across California have banned the use of smart meters for both health and privacy issues.
On September 14, Brinchman will attend a California Public Utilities Commission workshop in San Francisco, where commissioners will consider requiring SDG&E to allow customers to opt-out of the program.
April Bolduc, spokesperson for SDG&E, says the utility company will attend the hearing and comply with the board's decision. However, Bolduc says the utility company has received less than a hundred complaints regarding the meters.
"We've had about 20 complaints for health reasons and about 60 that haven't provided any reason. We've installed smart meters for all of our residential customers. In relation to the amount of smart meters that we've installed, I think the percentage of customers that have complained comes out to .001 percent."