Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “smart meter”

PG&E – Supplier of Golden Skeletons – Tom Rossi

Note from editor:

The following Disassociated Press Article was apparently beamed back to the present day from the year 2029 in an as-yet-uninvented time machine or possibly a wormhole in the space-time continuum:

March 20th, 2029

San Francisco:

A settlement in an undisclosed amount was announced today in case of the PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) napalming of large areas of northern California back in 2016. This was an incident in which several thousand people were killed and hundreds of homes were destroyed.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case, survivors of the event, argue that PG&E deliberately burned many acres of trees in order to eliminate interference with their power transmission lines.

Gordo Assesino, chairman of PG&E since 2027 was interviewed outside the courtroom:

“This was really just a continuation of the program of elimination of ‘flesh-based’ jobs that we began back in 2010. That’s when we started, on a large scale, to replace meter-readers with microwave-band radiation emitting ‘smart meters‘. Installing the smart meters was a huge investment, sure. But in the long run it saved us many millions on salaries and retirement benefits that we would have had to pay out to our flesh-based implements. And although there were countless health ‘problems’ reported, pinning the cause on the smart meter radiation proved to be too difficult, especially since we had all the government regulators like the CPUC on our payroll.”

Assesino continued, “In 2012, the executive board realized that PG&E was spending around $180 million per year clearing tree branches and other vegetation from our power lines. Then we put two and two together and realized that what had worked with meter-readers would work with trees!”

So, in what was (to say the very least) a very bad pun, just as PG&E had fired meter readers and replaced them with “smart” meters, they “fired” the trees – literally set them on fire by dropping napalm onto heavily vegetated neighborhoods. According to PG&E, this reduced the need for trimming by 90% in what they called the “rollout” or “application” areas.

Assesino: “Of course, there were some collateral damages. A few lives were lost and a few properties were damaged. But overall, the program was a success and we were able to cut our vegetation control costs by an astounding amount. And we certainly do appreciate the sacrifices that some have made in order to allow this boost to our economy.”

The wrongful death suit, among other legal actions, was brought in 2017.

Assesino: “The board knew that most of the litigants would simply die before the case even reached the courts. In the meantime, our lawyers filed motion after motion in order to delay the case as much as possible. If you look back at the case of the Ford Pinto, strictly from a business perspective, even with the damages awarded, Ford profited over $100 million from the entire product cycle. And those are 1977 dollars! You can see from this that what looks like a skeleton in Ford’s closet it really a “golden skeleton.”

When asked why he would make such a bold statement in public, Assesino said, “We’ve found that we no longer need to maintain the facade that we “care” about our customers. We have them by the you-know-whats. They need us.”

“If the plaintiffs see us as a huge, cold, corporation, they will only be intimidated and become more likely to just drop the case or at least settle for a lesser sum. Our lawyers convinced the judge that most of these people could have died anyway, for who knows what reason. They took the smoking gun and buried it so deep that the plaintiffs became afraid they would lose. That’s why they settled.” 

“I’m not supposed to tell you anything about the settlement that was reached today, but I’ll just say that it’s far, far below anything that will make a significant dent in our profits. This will be yet another golden skeleton in our closet. This should inspire confidence in our stockholders, which will be a good thing for the overall economy. Way back in 2010, we miscalculated the balance sheet with our natural gas pipelines, it’s true. We honestly didn’t expect as big a fire as there was in San Bruno. But enough years have gone by that I can tell our stockholders now, we still came out on top of that deal too.”

With that it appears that it’s back to business as usual. In fact, on news of this settlement, PG&E stock went up 16 points today.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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CPUC: Thanks for Protecting Us

This past Wednesday (September 14, 2011) I had the “priveledge” of attending a portion of a meeting of the California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC. The meeting ran all day and was for the express purpose of addressing “opt out” options for the people who don’t want the new “smart meter” installed at their home.

I attended as part of a coalition of angry citizens, which included Joshua Hart, director of stopsmartmeters.org. To our dismay (but not our surprise) the meeting was limited in its scope to simple issues. The presiding administrator, Judge Amy Yip-Kikugawa, refused to hear any question about the overarching issue – whether smart meters are actually a good idea or if they damage human health – and stuck very strictly to the opt-out agenda.

The meeting itself represented a concession by several utilities to address the “small” segment of the population who had objected to smart meters. The “fact” that the objectors are such a small group is what justified the outrageous statement by the representative from, I believe it was San Diego Power and Gas, to say that these people would have the freedom to “opt out” of the smart meter – if they were willing to pay for it’s removal and any extra cost incurred in the process of having the old-fashioned meter read by an actual person. The representatives from the other companies present, PG&E, SCE, and several more, were quick to agree.

In case your brain just dropped out on the floor, this would mean that you would have to pay to have your smart meter removed and replaced by the good old mechanical type (or a “non-radio” digital model) and then pay to have your meter read so that they could figure out how much to charge you for electricity. Yeah. And the power companies were adament that this was IF people were allowed to opt out, which they were opposed to in the first place.

This logic is possible in a magic fairy land where only a few people (the lunatic fringe) object to smart meters. But why, when there is so much evidence that exposure to levels of microwave radiation such as the smart meters emit, are there so few objectors?

Let me tell you how they (PG&E and many other corporations in many other situations) maintain the image of the opposition as the lunatic fringe…

They start out by simply rolling out a new product, in this case a microwave-producing electricity meter but it could be a lawn chemical, a material for baby bottles, or something else. Then, when a few little questions are asked about the health effects of this product, they whip out there handy-dandy, pre-prepared marketing-department-created misinformation sheet.

The timing here is important. The product is already “out there,” and there have been no news reports of people dropping dead. So when people get naturally curious, they’re all too ready to swallow the dismissal of health concerns. This curiosity/satisfaction pattern is important because it sets up a feeling in the populace that everything is just fine.

That good feeling is what allows the critical phase: the discrediting of the small handful of people that actually does some investigating into the health effects of the new product. Everyone else has been curious, and has been satisfied – mostly because their own laziness and trusting tendencies prevented them from doing any real research.

So now it’s easy to say that the dissenters are just a handful of psychosomatic worriers. This image then makes the group unattractive, preventing others from joining for fear of looking like lunatics themselves.

Judge Yip-Kikugawa is an administrative judge employed by the CPUC. Throughout the proceedings, her remarks, commands, vocal quality, and body language all told me that she was stuck. As she made expressly clear, the smart meters were coming, and there would not even be any discussion of stopping them. I got the impression that she understood the situation perfectly: If we were to actually discuss the things that should have been discussed before the smart meter plan went through, the CPUC would look exactly like what they are – a bunch of bungling, bumbling dupes who bought the party (power provider and smart meter manufacturer) line without hardly a question.

They believed it, for example, when they were told that a signal would only be sent from the smart meter back to the company 4 times per day, and that the signal was “1/1000 as strong as a cell phone.” The truth is that the meters send out a signal (to the company or to each other, as part of the “network”) hundreds of times per day on average. And the strength of those signals is incredibly variable, in some cases hundreds of times STRONGER than a cell phone.

But none of that matter now. The decision has been made and, no matter that it was based on falsities, it will not be revisited.

And the power company reps went on to use their marketing-department words and phrases like, “freedom of choice” ad nauseum. They seemed to believe that telling us that we have freedom of choice will make the fact easier to swallow that we really don’t.

The entire meeting can be seen here.

 -Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com

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