SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The environmental advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund is throwing its support behind Pacific Gas and Electric’s controversial SmartMeter program.

Lauren Navarro, an attorney with the group, said SmartMeters are an integral piece of the smart grid pie.

“We see those as being able to modernize your electricity system, to diversify energy sources, eliminate enormous waste, save money and improve air quality,” she said.

KCBS’ Larry Chiaroni Reports:

SmartMeters have been a hard sell for PG&E even though the utility has already installed 8 million of the new devices in its service area and plans to have 10 million in place by next year.

Claiming health risks from low-frequency radio waves the devices use to transmit data, 30 local governments have called for a moratorium on PG&E’s $2.2 billion meter project.

But Navarro said the Environmental Defense Fund doesn’t believe the devices pose a health risk.

“There have been numerous studies and none of them have shown any harm to human health from the radio frequencies in SmartMeters,” said Navarro. “However, there are all sorts of harm from dirty fossil fuel pollution.”

Navarro said that since SmartMeters are part of the smart grid, they can help increase the use of clean, renewable energy while also helping customers reduce their carbon footprint.

Meanwhile, PG&E has submitted a SmartMeter opt-out proposal. The plan is subject to the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission, which had requested that the company provide an opt-out alternative.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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