A San Luis Obispo County supervisor wants to temporarily suspend installation of so-called smart meters until the utility installing them answers questions about their safety, cost and privacy.
Jim Patterson will ask his colleagues next week to send a letter to the state Public Utilities Commission as well as PG&E expressing concerns about the meters and asking for the halt. The CPUC regulates utilities.
If it is sent, the letter also will go to state Sen. Sam Blakeslee and Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian.
Patterson may not get the three votes he needs on his letter. Chairman Adam Hill told The Tribune on Tuesday that he wants to send a letter expressing concerns but fell short of asking that installations be halted.
The proposed letter is on the board’s consent calendar, which is where they place noncontroversial items that they do not intend to discuss. However, any supervisor can pull an item and talk about it.
Smart meters have become controversial nationwide, and several government bodies in California and elsewhere have asked for a thorough investigation of their effects. So have many residents of San Luis Obispo County, who have expressed concerns almost weekly to the Board of Supervisors.
Some have said they worry about the new meters causing energy costs to rise, others say the meters give off dangerous radio waves and adversely affect other household appliances.
One speaker Tuesday, asking for a moratorium, said “I’m not sure they’re so smart.”
Meant to conserve energy, the meters are called “smart” because they track electricity and gas use and wirelessly transmit data to utilities. They give an hourly read on energy use — information that is available to the homeowner, who can adjust the use accordingly.
The utility meters are part of a nationwide effort to upgrade the energy grid, which provides the means by which people can turn on their lights, computers, dishwashers and other appliances, and generally function in the 21st century.
PG&E has begun to install them in Paso Robles, and says it expects to have them in an estimated 13,000 homes throughout the county by the end of 2012.
Hill said he wants the board’s letter to authorities to reiterate the concerns county residents have expressed to the Board of Supervisors.
Hill noted that the county has no regulatory authority over PG&E and the most it can do is express its concerns.
The county will not pass a moratorium, he said, because it would have no legal effect.