Just before Josh Hart stepped into Thursday's California Public Utilities Commission meeting to join a group of people protesting PG&E's ongoing installation of SmartMeters, Hart sold his cell phone.
His concerns about cell phones are the same concerns he has about SmartMeters -- namely, he's worried that the electromagnetic radiation emitted by these wireless technologies will have long-term, detrimental health effects.
"We're just flooding our environment with electromagnetic radiation," he said. And we're doing it, he added, without understanding the potential health consequences of that deluge.
SmartMeters are advanced utility meters that wirelessly communicate usage information to customers and utility companies. PG&E has scheduled installations of them for all of their customers by mid-2012.
There is no opt-out for customers who do not want a SmartMeter installed, according to PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith.
Hart is part of a growing movement of people calling for a moratorium on PG&E SmartMeter installations because of concerns over electromagnetic radiation exposure.
At Thursday's public utilities commission meeting, Hart and about 15 others -- some who said they suffer from electro-hypersensitivity caused by frequent exposure to electromagnetic waves from cell towers and other wireless technologies -- spoke to the commissioners about their concerns.
The California Pacific Utilities Commission allowed PG&E to install the meters in July 2006 because, they said, the meters would give customers detailed information about their own energy usage and encourage them to cut down. But Hart, an environmental activist, said the program is a "false solution" to climate change.
Ever since the utility company began installations in November 2006, the SmartMeter program has raised a smorgasbord of concerns, including a number from customers who claimed they were overcharged by their new meters.
After the utilities commission, PG&E and various consumer advocacy groups received these complaints, the commission launched an investigation into the accuracy of the meters.
In mid June, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera asked the utilities commission to halt PG&E's SmartMeter program in the city until that investigation is complete.