I’ve been reading and thinking about this whole smart meter thing that has been going on here in Glendale. To be honest I’m not sure what to think.

You see, for years Glendale got by pretty well with having regular old meters on the houses and every other month or so Glendale Water and Power would send someone out to read and record the meter. GWP would send me a bill, I’d pay it and that was that.

Then I heard that GWP was going to install this so-called “Smart Meter” on my house and that the smart meter would record my usage and automatically report this back to GWP Headquarters. It didn’t seem like such a big deal. Automation seems like progress.  And hey, who’s against progress?  Certainly not me.  Or am I?

Then I heard that some people were against the smart meters for a number of reasons. From what I understood some of the people felt like the “Big Brother” of Government was watching them. I heard others just felt like they should have the right to say what goes on their property and yet others have said that the radio waves are making them sick.  When I learned about all this I thought: Hooey! You guys must be a bunch of problem causing weirdoes. This is progress people! Get on board or get left behind!

However, now that I’ve taken some time to think about it, I think I was wrong. First of all it is our private property and we should be allowed to have some say in what gets put on it. Sure, anyone can make the case that we don’t have to have electricity and that if we don’t like it then have the power and water turned off and be done with it.  That sounds a lot like when I was a kid and those bratty kids would say well it’s my ball and if you don’t want to play by my rules then I’m not going to play and you can’t play with my ball!  Seems sort of childish doesn’t it?  In today’s society in Glendale it seems like a real necessity to have power and electricity. I am no expert about this but how many choices do I have for water and power?  It’s not like a cable company that I can choose from or a telephone company. It’s pretty close to a monopoly except that my tax dollars support Glendale Water and Power.  If my tax dollars (which I’m obligated by law to pay) support GWP then it’s ridiculous to say that I have a real choice.

Also, I got thinking. People are claiming that they are getting sick from the radio waves from smart meters. Again, I thought: You bunch of whacko’s! What are you talking about? You must just be slackers and con men looking for a pay off! But then I thought some more about it. What if it’s true? What if people really are getting sick from the smart meters? As a community, do we care so very little about our friends and neighbors getting sick and being ill? Why do we just assume that they are being fraudulent?  Shouldn’t we investigate this more?  Are there long-term health problems that we just aren’t seeing? I really don’t know but I do think it’s worthy of our consideration and possibly our action.  Isn’t it just as easy to take the smart meters off the peoples’ homes in return for our neighbors’ good health?

To be honest I don’t know if living under power lines will make you sick but I’ll never volunteer to live under one. If I’m not willing to live under power lines even though it hasn’t been categorically proven unsafe, am I crazy to avoid it? Don’t people claim that living under power lines make them sick? Doesn’t this lend true to the same argument about Smart Meters? Maybe?

What really started me getting upset about all this is Glendale Water and Power saying that its customers can “Opt Out” for a fee. From what I understand that proposed fee is about $56 a month. That’s quite a bit! I have some problems with this ‘Opt Out” policy.

First of all, I was never given the opportunity to “Opt In” and now I have to pay to “Opt Out”?  I’m no lawyer but that seems wrong. I mean I never asked for a Smart Meter. I was never asked if I wanted one. A smart meter was just installed without anyone coming and asking me if it was okay.  So now if I don’t want it I have to opt out? I have to opt out and pay a pretty hefty monthly fee. This just seems wrong.

Second, $56 a month! Since I get billed every 2 months does that means that it costs GWP $112 to have someone drive across town and read my meter. Personally I find that if I plan my day I can make it from any point in Glendale to another in about 20 minutes but to be generous lets say 29. It takes about 30 seconds to read my traditional meter.

It seems to me that even if the meter readers aren’t planning their routes very well that they are paid $224 an hour!? That would be crazy enough but if you figure that there are people all over the city of Glendale who don’t want Smart Meters, then the meter readers can cover even more ground. If that’s true, GWP really has some bigger problems then Smart Meters.

Why is PG&E only charging $10 a month for meter reading? Why do we even have to pay at all? I think that the fact that those smart meters were bought and paid for with money from my taxes, should give me a say about how they are used and if they should be used on my property.  If my tax dollars paid for them, then I have to pay to have them removed and I have to pay monthly — it seems like I’m being triple billed! That just doesn’t seem right.

Now what about progress?  Don’t we need to have everyone on Smart Meters to be on the Smart Grid?  Doesn’t the Smart Grid help us conserve energy and lower gas prices? My answer is: I don’t know. I have it on good authority that Glendale doesn’t need to be on Smart Meters to be on the Smart Grid.

So I have to ask. If you are like me and your bill has substantially gone up; if you have any of the concerns about being forced to install Smart Meters and were never asked; if you are concerned that maybe, just maybe, Smart Meters make people sick.  Then I encourage you to ask: Why do we have them?

We didn’t ask for them. We were told that they were good for us. They were forced upon us. I have to ask. Isn’t Glendale Water and Power part of our local government? Isn’t this the United States where the government is supposed to be FOR THE PEOPLE, by The PEOPLE?

I certainly didn’t want GWP to spend a reported 70 million tax dollars for this. I especially didn’t want GWP to spend my tax dollars and then to make my utility bill go up. How many years will it be before the city of Glendale recoups its 70 million dollars? What has happened to the people who were employed as meter readers? In this lousy economy have we put more people out of work?

When will our local government stop acting like it’s a entity that doesn’t have to be concerned about the people of Glendale and start acting on what the people of Glendale want?







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