PETALUMA (CBS SF) – PG&E was scheduled to submit opt-out procedures Thursday for customers who don’t want to participate in the utility’s SmartMeter program, the president of the California Public Utilities Commission said.

PG&E was set to file the proposed procedures with the commission early Thursday afternoon, president Michael Peevey said.

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Speakers, however, packed the commission auditorium to say they want more than an opt-out procedure for meters, which are meant to help reduce energy consumption by wirelessly monitoring usage. Opponents said that the meters emit harmful levels of radiation, which PG&E has denied.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

The speakers asked for a full moratorium on SmartMeters until they can be further evaluated, and they protested PG&E’s plans to charge extra to customers who choose to opt out, calling the charges a form of extortion.

PG&E officials have not yet said how much the extra charge would be.

SmartMeter opponents argued that cancer rates have gone up as the use of wireless technology has increased, and said that shows that wireless devices are dangerous. They said they shouldn’t be charged extra to protect their health.

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“I did not go through life eating organic food and exercising so I will be able to enjoy old age, just to have some big corporation slap something on the side of my home and undo all of it,” Petaluma resident Sylvia Binsfeld said.

“I have not had a good night’s sleep since that thing was installed. I want an opt-out plan for those who already have it,” she said.

A report released in January by the California Council on Science and Technology found that radiation emitted by the devices is within levels deemed safe by the government, and that those levels are far lower than those produced by microwave ovens and cellphones.

That report was based on a review of 100 previous studies, many of which Thursday’s speakers argued were not independent reviews.

Dana Davis, also of Petaluma, said she doesn’t have a SmartMeter and doesn’t want one.

“I don’t want to be a guinea pig in this experiment, and I shouldn’t have to pay more for the ‘right’ to opt out of irradiation,” she said.

Other residents described migraines, heart palpitations, sleep problems and other symptoms that they said they and their loved ones had experienced since the SmartMeters were installed.

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