SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS / AP) — California regulators will ask Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to set up a process so its customers can opt out of smart meters if they have concerns about the devices’ potential health effects.

California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey said he will ask the utility to develop the proposal over the next two weeks.

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KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

Peevey’s announcement came before dozens of people and advocacy groups testified at Thursday’s commission meeting that exposure to radio frequencies and radiation from the wireless electricity and gas meters was harming people’s health.

PG&E maintains that the meters are safe. Other PUC commissioners have said they want to see more research on whether the electronic meter-reading system can impact health.

“Although the great wave of scientific evidence demonstrates that radio frequency from SmartMeters is safe, we take our customer’s concerns seriously,” said PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno. “Our challenge is how we address our customer’s concerns while insuring them the enormous benefits that SmartMeters and the Smart Grid offer.”

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Moreno offered no specifics on alternate technology for SmartMeters, nor the possibility of any additional costs.

Mindy Spratt with The Utility Reform Network or TURN said they are pleased by the CPUC directive.

“We’ve not taken a stance on the issue of the meter itself as much as that we have a position as a consumer advocate that a consumer should have a medical opt-out available,” said Spratt.

Peevey said he believes PG&E should allow customers to opt-out for a “reasonable cost.”

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