PG&E Should Allow Smart Meter Opt-Out, State Regulator Says

PG&E Corp., owner of California’s largest utility, was ordered by state regulators to propose a way for customers to have the option of not getting a so-called smart meter installed at their homes.

PG&E must issue its proposal that will allow for “some form of opt-out” within two weeks, California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey said today in an e-mail statement. The directive is designed to address concerns raised by some about the potential health effects of the wireless radio frequency emissions from the devices, Peevey said.

PG&E has been looking at possible alternatives for those who may not want a wireless meter and is “prepared to file a proposal by the deadline,” Paul Moreno, a company spokesman, said in a telephone interview. “Although the great weight of scientific evidence demonstrates that radio frequency from smart meters is safe, we take our customer concerns seriously.”

PG&E, based in San Francisco, is spending about $2.2 billion to install 9.8 million meters by 2012, Moreno said. The utility has installed 7.7 million meters so far, he said.

Customers who opt out of the program should pay to do so at “a reasonable cost,” Peevey said.

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