WEB EXCLUSIVE > Police respond to community members’ attempt to return SmartMeters to PG&E
Six Capitola Police Department officers arrived at the PG&E Payment Center off of 41st Avenue early this afternoon to help the center clear out a group of customers who were there to turn in unwanted SmartMeters.
Almost a dozen community members gathered at the Capitola PG&E center at 12:30 p.m. today, Dec. 7, to hand in PG&E-owned SmartMeters that they had removed from their respective homes with the help of professional electricians. Before entering the payment center, Joshua Hart, director of StopSmartMeters.org, read a prepared statement explaining the group’s action. In the message, he described the negative health effects many say have befallen them due to the meters, which are a wireless monitoring technology, and asserted that all of the people returning their SmartMeters intend to pay their bills in full, and “fully documented the SmartMeter energy use readings” in order to do so. He ended by encouraging others who have asked PG&E to remove their SmartMeter to no avail to “consider removing their SmartMeters as well—with the help of an electrical technician.”
“It is absurd that PG&E feels they have the right to install dangerous wireless transmitters on our homes and in our neighborhoods against our will,” he said.
Several of the people there to return their meters proceeded to speak, including Peggy Lindsey, an Aptos resident and grandmother of eight. She recounted the day, Aug. 5, when an installer arrived to put a SmartMeter on her home. She came to the door in a robe, and insisted that he leave without installing one. By the time she had dressed and come outside, a SmartMeter was already mounted on her wall. “I had no idea it would cause problems,” she said, adding that a loud ringing immediately permeated her freshly remodeled and “perfect” home. “It went on and on and I was getting sicker.”
After removing her SmartMeter on Wednesday, Nov. 23, she said she was able to sleep again. “I was going crazy with a corporation that wouldn’t listen,” she said, standing before a small crowd of reporters and television news cameras. “Please do something. We must speak up.”
The group then entered the payment center and got in line behind three other PG&E customers, and waited quietly.
When Hart, who was the first of the group in line, was just one customer away from reaching the only open payment window, six Capitola Police Department officers entered and asked for everyone to leave the building. A PG&E employee said, “We’re going to lock up the office. We want everybody out.” The group had just enough time to leave 10 to 12 meters in the office before everyone was vacated and the door was locked.
“This is so symbolic of how we’ve been treated throughout this whole process,” said StopSmartMeters! member Jeff Nordahl outside of the office. “These are all paying customers of PG&E trying to civilly interact and return property.”
Hart once again addressed the media. “If we don’t want someone or something on our property, particularly someone or something that is causing harm, we have a right to get that off of our property, and people have exercised that right today,” he said. “It is a shame that PG&E refuses to dialogue with these customers who are having such health effects, and instead they have shutdown their office today.
“This is just people peacefully, legally coming to the office,” he continued. “People wanting to return their meters. There is no reason for such a heavy police turnout.”
Other than to say “I really don’t want to talk to you” to a reporter as he walked back to the squad car, the sergeant, and the other officers, refused to comment.
Photos by Keana Parker.