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Mayday: SmartMeter Opt-Out Deadline Fast Approaching

PG&E announced a soft deadline of today for all those wishing to opt out of the SmartMeter program.

PG&E is asking its customers who want to opt out of the SmartMeter program to contact the utility by the end of today, a spokesman said.

Although May 1 is a "soft" deadline, PG&E today is trying to get an accurate count of how many refurbished analog meters it will need to supply to customers who oppose the installation of SmartMeters, spokesman Jeff Smith said.

"Customers can still opt out for any reason at any time in the future," Smith said. "We're basically trying to get a better idea of how many refurbished meters we'll need to buy and where they'll be needed."

Opponents of SmartMeters have argued that the meters emit harmful radiation, an argument that state and federal agencies say is not backed by science.

The California Public Utilities Commission in May unanimously approved PG&E's SmartMeter "opt-out" program, and said the potential negative health effects from SmartMeters had not been "identified or confirmed."

According to PG&E, 1,540 customers in San Francisco have so far opted out of the SmartMeter Program and elected to keep the older, more costly analog meters. About 2,430 customers in Santa Cruz County have already opted out.

Customers who opt out will be required to pay an upfront $75 fee and an ongoing $10 monthly fee to maintain the old meters, Smith said.

SmartMeters are meant to help reduce energy consumption by wirelessly monitoring usage. The metering systems are being installed as part of a nationwide "smart grid" in 25 states around the country, according to the CPUC.

Anyone wishing to opt out of SmartMeter service can get more information online at www.pge.com/myhome/customerservice/smartmeter, or by calling PG&E at (800) 743-5000.

-Bay City News Service

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