PG&E offers opt-out from smart meters

After a long battle with protesters, California utility company Pacific Gas and Electric has offered a substantial concession to smart meter opponents, allowing them to keep traditional analog electricity meters at an extra charge, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

The Chronicle reports that a small but determined group of residents have raised strong complaints about the new smart meters on the basis that emissions from the devices' wireless transmitters can cause a variety of ill health effects, ranging from headaches to insomnia.

Similar claims have been made against the emissions from cell phones and laptops, but smart meters have become a common touchstone because utilities have begun pushing their installation in an attempt to develop a more responsive smart grid.

After being ordered to develop an opt-out program by the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E had initially proposed installing digital meters without the transmitters. When these still drew criticism, the utility acceded and offered to allow traditional analog meters for a cost of $270 up front and another $14 per month.

Further information on Pacific Gas and Electric and its smart meter program can be found at PennEnergy's Research area.

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