The Board of Supervisors said Tuesday that PG&E should stop installing wireless SmartMeters until questions about the technology’s safety, cost-effectiveness and alleged threat to privacy have been answered.
The board agreed to send a letter calling for the delay to the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates utilities. Local governments have no power to stop the installations.
The vote was 4-0 with Frank Mecham absent. Mecham, however, sent a letter supporting the board action.
Supervisor Jim Patterson, who wrote the letter, asked that a phrase that called PG&E “woefully inadequate” in its efforts to educate its customers be removed.
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He said that he was impressed by the utility’s outreach attempts, which will include at least a half-dozen community forums.
In raising concerns, the board became the sixth among the 58 county governments in California to question SmartMeters. More than 20 of the state’s 649 incorporated cities, including Morro Bay and Seaside in Monterey County also have questioned SmartMeters.
PG&E has begun to install SmartMeters in San Luis Obispo County and expects to have the county covered by the end of 2012.
Statewide, some 7.7 million SmartMeters have been installed out of 10 million. Other utilities also are installing them. Southern California Edison, for example, plans to have 6,000 SmartMeters in place by the end of 2012.
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.
They 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.