Wednesday, 7 November 2012

CPUC plans to reject my SmartMeter protest tomorrow

In the latest episode in the continuing saga of PG&E’s attempt to build out a commercial wireless data network, for PG&E’s profit but with infrastructure installed on other people’s property without compensation (under threat of surcharges on gas and electric bills or disconnection of utility service if PG&E isn’t given free rein to install data transceivers on others’ property), it appears that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is finally prepared to rule on my protest tomorrow.

A draft resolution prepared by the CPUC staff is item 2 on the agenda for the CPUC meeting in San Francisco on Thursday, 8 November 2012. It’s part of the “consent calendar” of items to be adopted en masse by unanimous consent, without debate, and is not on the hold list of items included on the agenda, but which are to to be postponed.

The draft resolution would reject both my protest of PG&E’s “Advice Letter” making changes to its tariff to surcharge utility customers at any address where PG&E isn’t allowed access to install a “SmartMeter”, and my objections to the procedural errors by CPUC staff including the filing of a knowingly false certificate of service.

The draft resolution includes logs that weren’t provided to me when I requested them under the Public Records Act, but finds that Public Records Act violations don’t invalidate CPUC actions, i.e. I would have to bring a separate lawsuit under the Public Records Act if I want to challenge those violations of California law.

The draft resolution also finds that the rules that apply to service on the CPUC by other parties don’t apply reciprocally to service by the CPUC on other parties, and that i was eventually served with something. It entirely ignores the specific false claims in certificate of service
signed and filed by CPUC staff as to what was served, when, how, and by whom.

Assuming the CPUC adopts the draft resolution, without modification, on November 8, I will have to file an Application for Rehearing within 30 days in order to preserve my right to eventual judicial review of the CPUC’s decision (if I can eventually find a lawyer to represent me — contact me if you might be interested). If I file an application for rehearing by the CPUC within 10 days (i.e. by November 18th), the decision will be automatically suspended for 60 days while rehearing is pending. Rehearing is unlikely to produce any different result, but a request for rehearing is a required part of “exhausting administrative remedies” before one can have any CPUC decision reviewed by a California court.

Meanwhile, evidentiary hearings are going on this week and next in San Francisco, at which utility witnesses are being cross-examined about how they calculated the “costs” of opting out of having a “SmartMeter”. On Monday (5 November 2012), after a long argument with the CPUC administrative law judge (ALJ) conducting the hearing, I finally got an explicit ruling, on the record, denying the motion I had made on 14 May 2012 — which had been ignored for almost six months — to participate in this proceeding if the issues raised by PG&E’s Advice Letter were within its scope. The ALJ ruled that the issues raised by PG&E’s Advice Letter are outside the scope of this proceeding.

So only if I can get the CPUC to order a full new proceeding, as I have requested throughout my protest (or if I can eventually take the CPUC and/or PG&E to court, which is far beyond my ability to do pro se) will the issues I have raised ever be considered.

I’ve rarely seen such cavalier disregard by a government agency for its own procedural rules. And on the underlying substantive issue, if PG&E can add a commercial wireless data network base station to each gas and electric meter, without compensation or permission of the property owner, then AT&T can install a cellphone antenna and transceiver, without compensation or permission, at the point on or in any home where its phone line terminates.

[Update: As I expected, the CPUC adopted (item 2) the resolution rejecting my protest on 8 November 2012 by unanimous consent, without debate.]

Link | Posted by Edward on Wednesday, 7 November 2012, 16:09 ( 4:09 PM)

I've been cursing the CPUC ever since they deregulated residential phone service a few years ago. This despite the near total lack of any residential CLEC service in the state. Apparently, being able to pay $40-60 to a cable provider (the other arm of the telecom duopoly) or one of the vanishingly small number of wireless providers is sufficient "competition" to a $12 POTS wireline. The result of this decision has been as predictable as it is obvious: the base rate for POTS service has been almost doubled in four years by AT&T.

And then there's the San Bruno disaster... it's hard to tell whose behavior in that fiasco is more execrable, PG&E's or the CPUC.

The current CPUC is one of the most anti-consumer government bodies I've experienced.

Posted by: Anon Y. Mouse, 7 November 2012, 23:54 (11:54 PM)

So what happens if you go over to the SmartMeter on the side of your home and just disconnect it? Do you lose all power?

Posted by: Gabe, 9 November 2012, 13:16 ( 1:16 PM)

Gabe - If you disconnect the meter, you will lose all power. All the power goes through the meter.

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 10 November 2012, 08:06 ( 8:06 AM)

Build a Faraday cage around the meter enclosure? (grin)

Posted by: Anon Y. Mouse, 14 November 2012, 23:11 (11:11 PM)
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