Smart Meter Protest “Caught” On Tape


Some residents of the little town of Inverness in Northern California are trying to relive Berkeley in the ’60’s — but instead of sticking it to “the man,” they’re fighting an even greater evil: smart meters! A group of protesters (the SF Weekly says it was 30) reportedly blocked a road in Inverness, trying to stop PG&E contractors from installing smart meters in their region. Two of ’em were arrested (watch the video footage of the awkward arrests).

The road in the video looks like it was Highway 1, which must have been pretty irritating for anyone that had to drive on Highway 1 that day, as basically it’s the only major road in that area. The protesters told SF Weekly that they oppose smart meters because of privacy concerns, health concerns, and because basically PG&E didn’t ask their permission. About a half dozen local Marin media outlets have picked up the news.

I don’t think this is a sign that the consumer backlash over smart meters is ramping up at all. Clearly the group took video and photos of the protest and are trying to get the media to pick up the story. And OK, I bit. But just because I’m trying to understand what is going through the heads of this small group of people who are lashing out at smart meters, which basically use similar technology to the Internet and cell phone connections that these people are likely already using.

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Peter Pratt

I get that the lede was supposed to be, and is, funny.

Pardon me while I climb back on my high horse however to express my continued angst that the largest and single most important state regulatory body in the country — the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) — continues to make a total hash out of what should be the model smart meter deployment on the planet.

The CPUC’s strategy for “regulating” PG&E (and AT&T, and Verizon, for that matter) is to respond “How high?”, when those regulated entities say “Jump.” Again, my point is that it is all too easy to make fun of folks that are concerned about a variety of issues raised by wireless smart meters. In reality however it is not a joke that a critically important tech roll out has been so poorly managed by a body of alleged professional regulators.

By definition, the national smart grid can only happen if enabled by regulators across the nation that get it. CPUC isn’t even close to getting it yet.


Actually, Inverness is one of the few towns in California that is west of Highway 1. The incident took place on Sir Francis Drake Blvd.

There is quite a backlash over Smart Meters in Marin County, although this is the first one that involved arrests by the police. Local supervisors and town mayors are trying to negotiate a moratorium with PG&E to delay smart meter installation for at least one year. Not that it helps the folks who already have one or folks like us who have neighbors on either side with smart meters already installed. The motivation is mainly health-related, since that is a “safe” topic for attacking PG&E (although very few have tried the often-used European tactic of blaming it on “Electro-Smog” which is a claim that PG&E has no defense against). There are a number of folks that are also concerned about privacy and inaccurate meter readings (these will get resolved). In the long run, I predict the folks in Marin County will only delay and not stop installation of some form of smart meters.

Peter Pratt

Yes, its easy to make fun of people that get arrested over concerns about EMF radiation that is all around us.

Anyone that has worked to permit new technologies that drive our industry should however be smart enough to understand the concerns that any group of our subscribers have. Anyone that has experienced how small groups of folks can tie-up the deployment of new technologies should be smarter than to see current activists as Sixties era bomb throwers “Sticking it to the man.”

That’s a cute line in the story about the protest, but it isn’t any kind of analysis of what we in the industry should pay attention to, nor work to overcome:

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