Last week, a computerized PG&E representative left me a friendly message that a radiation-emitting Smart Meter would soon be installed on my property. This was a courtesy call, and I needed take no action to receive this helpful technological gift. The benefits would be tremendous..more detailed information about my energy usage (I can hardly wait!), and the ability for PG&E to better manage its energy production during peak hours. The downside? Nothing really, just a wee bit more electromagnetic radiation.

Cecily RuttenbergWhile it’s hard to imagine who would turn down this enticing offer, if I wanted to temporarily delay the installation, I could call the following 1-800 number.

Stop Smart Meters, a citizen advocacy group launched by Scotts Valley resident Josh Hart, reports that thousands of people sensitive to the growing amount of electromagnetic radiation have complained of headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, heart arrhythmia, and other symptoms after a their meter was installed. PG&E retorts that  Smart Meters emit less radiation than cell phones, so what’s the problem?

The problem is,  people receive a certain amount of radiation every time they fly on an airplane, get our dental xrays, stand in an airport body scanner and use our cellphone. Individuals may prefer not to add to that cumulative total, if not absolutely necessary.   Ultimately, whether the claims of negative health impacts from radiation are true or false do we not have a right as a concerned, American citizen to opt-out?

Last year, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, and the cities of Capitola and Watsonville, approved  moratoriums on new Smart Meter installations. Those moratoriums, however, are largely symbolic since the California Public Utilities Commission regulates utilities, not local governments. Groups are currently lobbying the CPUC to offer concerned citizens a permanent opt-out to Smart Meters. Whether this will happen remains to be seen.

I called the 1-800 number and a PG&E employee answered and took down my name and address. Next question, why did I want the delay? “I don’t like it, I don’t know enough about it, and I’m wary,” I replied honestly. I could hear his eyes rolling.

“Um, how long with this delay be for,” I asked sheepishly?

“A month, or two, max,” he said. “Just until the CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission) gives final approval.” Final approval, I understood him to say, to install the devices on every property, whether we want one or not. “And what if I still don’t want it?”

What followed was a polite version of “Tough!”

“Everyone’s going to get a meter,” he told me definitively. “It’s just a matter of when.”

Then scary music started to play and I awoke in a dictatorship country.

To be placed on the delay list, customers can call 877-743-7378. For general questions about SmartMeters, call 866-743-0263.

Guest blogger Cecily Ruttenberg is a social media marketing and public relations guru committed to keeping Santa Cruzans radioactivity-free. Learn more about Cecily at