Their concerns grow from the heated debate over whether
radiation from cell phones, Wi-Fi computers and other
wireless devices can cause cancer or other ailments. They
want a moratorium on installing the SmartMeters to measure
electricity and gas use.
"We are being increasingly exposed to an exponential amount
of radio frequency radiation," said Sebastopol resident
Sandi Maurer. "Now there are going to be two of these things
in every home.
Maurer is the founder of the EMF Safety Network, a
clearinghouse for information on the possible dangers of
electromagnetic fields. She and other residents persuaded
the Sebastopol City Council this month to ask California
energy regulators to stop SmartMeter installation while the
possible health risks can be assessed.
PG&E has already fielded complaints that the advanced meters
aren't accurate, a charge the utility insists isn't true.
Other people have complained that the meters make it too
easy for PG&E to disconnect customers who have fallen behind
on their bills, because now power can be turned off without
sending a technician to a customer's house.
We believe our SmartMeter equipment is completely safe" and
falls within all Federal Communications Commission
guidelines, spokesman Paul Moreno said. In addition, people
won't hold SmartMeters to their heads head for minutes at a
time, Moreno said.
"They're in different ballparks," he said.
The possible risk of cell phones and other mobile devices
remains in deep dispute. The radiation those devices emit
does not carry enough energy to disrupt DNA. Most studies
have shown no potential harm to human health, but some have
raised doubts - enough that research continues.
For every report you can find that says it may be a hazard,
you can find one that says it isn't," said Sebastopol City
Council member Kathleen Shaffer.
"For me, if we're going to pay for them, and we have to have
them, they have to work," Shaffer said.
Maurer isn't reassured that PG&E's SmartMeters meet federal
standards - she considers those much too low. Two years ago,
she helped persuade the Sebastopol City Council to turn down
a project to provide free wireless Internet service in the
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