A PG&E executive who used a fake identity to try to access an online forum for a group opposed to the utility's SmartMeter program resigned Wednesday, a company spokesman said.

William Devereaux, who was in charge of the $2.2 billion program, stepped down two days after publicly admitting to the attempted subterfuge, and a day after PG&E placed him on paid leave.

"PG&E remains committed to conducting all of its business operations in a transparent and open manner. That is the expectation of our leaders. Nothing less is acceptable," said Jeff Smith, a PG&E spokesman.

He declined to say whether Devereaux was forced to resign.

Devereaux often was the public face on the SmartMeter rollout, including attending meter forums sponsored by the utility.

Sandi Maurer, a Sebastopol resident and founder of the Electromagnetic Frequency Safety Network, a group opposed to the meters, met Devereaux at a forum held nSebastopol in April.

Last week, Maurer, the moderator of an online forum for anti-meter activists statewide, received an e-mail from a man who called himself "Ralph" and said he lived in Oakland asking to join the forum and help with group activities.

But Maurer knew it was a hoax because Devereaux's name was listed alongside his e-mail address.

Activists suspect Devereaux used the same e-mail address on Sept. 18 to join an online forum called SmartWarriorMarin and leave a critical comment. The note read: "The hypocrisy of your own arguments as you pick and chose (sic) yourself about the science regarding rf, make unsubstantiated claims about smart meter energy use, and make completely irresponsible allegations trying to link smart meters to the tragedy of San Bruno."

"RF" refers to radio frequencies, which some people fear can heighten the risk for medical ailments such as cancer at certain exposure levels, such as those emitted by smart meters.

A variety of scientific studies have found no such link.

Activists suspect Devereaux also gained advance knowledge of an Oct. 28 protest at Wellington Energy in Rohnert Park, which they said would explain why the facility was deserted when protesters showed up that morning.

The company provides crews to install the new meters.

PG&E's Smith said the company's internal investigation into Devereaux's actions will continue "to determine the scope of what took place."

Asked if the company will make public those findings, Smith said, "Certainly if there is something that comes out of that we need to make known to the public, we will do that."