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Sebastopol to request delay in SmartMeter rollout

Sebastopol will ask PG&E to delay installation of SmartMeters in the city until state regulators conclude hearings on new opt-out procedures.

"It was triggered by PG&E calling the city and saying they will start installing SmartMeters within two weeks," Vice Mayor Michael Kyes said. "There are a number of people in the city who are not happy with that."

SmartMeters have been particularly controversial in Sebastopol, where critics contend that the wireless meters emit radio frequencies that can cause health problems.

PG&E has installed 1,700 SmartMeters in Sebastopol, which has a total of 23,000 residential and business meters, said company spokesman Greg Snapper.

He said that 600 Sebastopol residents with 950 meters have opted out of the program.

PG&E is promoting the meters as a way for consumers to better manage energy use, while allowing the utility to cut staff needed to read gas and electric meters.

When the utility introduced the meters in February 2010, it ran into resistance in Sonoma County and elsewhere in California.

PG&E was required by the state Public Utilities Commission to allow individuals to keep their traditional meters for a one-time fee of $75 and a $10 monthly fee to cover the cost of having the meters read.

The PUC is holding hearings on how groups or communities could opt out of having the meters installed, as well as an analysis of the cost.

The City Council voted 5-0 Thursday night to ask PG&E to not install meters within the city limits until those hearings are completed.


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