AMP Leaves Alamedans in the Dark

 

Our electric company may be publicly owned, but public participation is down because it requires too much energy.

In 2017, eight of the eleven monthly Public Utilities Board (PUB) meetings, including two with important workshops and presentations, have been or will be held at the Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) offices at Clement Avenue and Grand Street, instead of at City Hall.  I was late to one workshop because I could not get up to the secured conference room until someone happened by in the otherwise empty corridor and let me in.  To make it even more difficult, AMP is scheduling the workshops during the workday, instead of in the meeting

The city does not televise  or stream PUB meetings held at AMP’s offices  in the same way as meetings at City Hall.  Thus, the public cannot watch the meetings live, and the only unedited archive is an audio recording.  Good luck dragging the online audio slider back and forth through two- to three-hour recordings to find the topic that interests you.  Also, in an unlikely location, meeting minutes online are stored within meeting agendas.  All other city meeting minutes are listed separately once approved, making them highly visible.

Some of the content on AMP’s website is murky too.  The website used to show a detailed list of AMP’s power contracts for geothermal, wind, landfill gas and hydroelectric. Those details were recently removed.  The website now contains an overview of AMP’s energy sources, directing readers to the so-called “Power Content Label” on another page, which says that 69 percent of AMP’s power is coming from “unspecified sources.”

There is now a recently added “Climate Change Projects” page that contains the misleading statement, “Alameda was able to sell some of its excess renewable energy to other organizations struggling to achieve compliance.”  The decision some seven years ago to sell some of our renewable energy was not an act of altruism or kindness.  It was done to reap a windfall to fund AMP projects.

Leaving Alamedans in the dark with fluffy spin, wittingly or unwittingly, fosters distrust.  It also keeps public scrutiny at bay and discourages participation.

Comparing AMP and the public utilities board to a Star Trekkian force field, Gabrielle Dolphin’s recent letter to the editor (“What does ‘community owned utility’ mean,” June, 1) questioned the value of having a community-owned public utility “if its community cannot penetrate the process.”  Point well taken.  If Alamedans and other interested parties are to have a voice in the policies and operations of AMP, it shouldn’t be so difficult to participate in the process.

PUB members, which includes City Manager Jill Keimach , need to take the lead on ensuring that details of AMP’s portfolio are posted on its website and that all Alamedans can easily access information and attend or view meetings.  As Ms. Dolphin noted in her letter, “a highly educated and experienced citizenry” is an untapped resource not being utilized.  Let’s make it easy to participate and be heard.

We’re proud that AMP is community owned and delivers safe, reliable electricity at lower rates than Pacific Gas & Electric that provides Alameda with natural gas.  Let’s also create an environment where we can be proud of its transparent and responsive methods of operation and civic involvement.

 

 

Irene Dieter posts stories and photos about Alameda at ionalameda.com.

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AMP Powered by Hyperbole

 

The one renewable resource that Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) doesn’t get credit for is the never-ending stream of exaggerated claims about its green credentials. Look closer at its policies on solar power, selling off “extra” renewable power, local power generation and the health of our state’s rivers and streams as they relate to hydropower. You’ll find shortcomings that don’t match the rhetoric.

Last year, AMP changed its rate structure for rooftop solar to make it less favorable for owners of new installations. In May, the financial incentives were again reduced.

In contrast, with PG&E and other investor-owned utility territories, the old rate structure for new solar installations — called Net Energy Metering (NEM) — remains favorable. That’s because the state Public Utility Commission controls the solar rate structure for investor-owned utilities. But a loophole in the law allows municipal utilities like AMP to avoid following statewide goals on rooftop solar. The irony is that AMP is doing what PG&E wanted to do but couldn’t.

AMP justifies its actions by saying the old solar rate structure benefits a special class of ratepayers at the expense of all other ratepayers. Yet AMP has no problem giving a business $10,000 to design an energy-efficient building. This is a double standard. Favoring special classes of people and businesses to advance public policy goals, such as with taxes, discounts and preferential treatment, is a time-honored tool and should be used to advance renewable energy goals, not just efficiency programs or pet projects.

During the past five years, AMP sold off part of its renewable energy, raising over $25 million. The revenue was supposed to go for greenhouse gas-reduction programs, making the sale a benefit for the environment. The utility is using a large chunk or that money to replace existing meters with smart meters, even though there is no evidence that smart meters lead to a reduction in greenhouse gases. The benefits of the new meters are better management of the system, time-of-use pricing and reduction of personnel costs for meter readers.

Twice this year, energy experts have recommended  that AMP and the Public Utilities Board consider creating localized power production. These facilities are known as distributed generation, in contrast to centralized high-capacity power plants. Producing power locally reduces transmission costs and improves local resiliency.

But AMP refuses to even start a feasibility study for a mini-solar farm on top of Mt. Trashmore, the former city dump next to the Bay Farm Bridge that could potentially produce up to 4 megawatts of solar power. There is even room on this city-owned property for a power storage unit that would allow storing daytime solar power for nighttime use.

Instead of a 4 megawatt solar farm that could become part of the city-wide power mix, AMP is instead planning a token 1/4 megawatt “community solar” facility that will sell “shares” to customers.

According to AMP Assistant General Manager for Energy Resources Planning Barry Leska, there is already too much solar generation in California. “AMP understands the importance of matching the new community solar installation to likely sales from the program, without oversizing the system and having to dump extra energy into an unfavorable grid market place,” he said.

“As you may be aware, during daytime hours there is an abundance of utility-scale solar generation on the grid, which is depressing market energy pricing during those times and causing curtailment of both renewable and non-renewable generation.

AMP does not get any of its power from solar farms through direct purchase contracts. AMP doesn’t want to buy solar even if it’s dirt cheap. AMP doesn’t want to produce solar power because it would have to sell it dirt cheap. If AMP took a new look at battery storage, solar might look more attractive. AMP’s review of energy-storage technology a few years ago said it didn’t make economic sense. But the technology is rapidly heading toward becoming mainstream.

AMP likes to tout the energy it buys that is generated by burning landfill methane gas. But landfill gas is not renewable. It ends in a matter of decades. The sun does not. Without proactive local and regional participation, California will never get to 100 percent renewable power. AMP’s “pricing-first, environment-second” policy is not helping us get there.

When it comes to protecting wild and scenic rivers, AMP comes out on the wrong side of the environment. Last year, the Friends of the River asked the city council to sign on to a letter opposing the construction of a new dam on a wild and scenic stretch of the San Joaquin River and also raising the Shasta Dam. AMP wrote a letter to the City Council urging the Councilmembers not to sign the letter; the Council signed it anyway.

AMP’s “green” hyperbole is losing power.

California: Alameda resident arrested for blocking installation of Smart Meters

Smart Meter Harm

From the  Alameda Sun

Smart Meter Activist Arrested for Blockage

April 3, 2018
by  Ekene Ikeme

Alameda police officers arrested an Alameda resident after he allegedly tried blocking the installation of Alameda Municipal Power’s (AMP) new smart meters at an apartment building Thursday, March 29.

Alameda resident Christopher Rabe was arrested at 10:30 a.m., according to Alameda Police Department (APD) reports. The incident took place at the apartment building on the 2200 block of Pacific Avenue where Rabe, 39, is a tenant. 

Workers from Professional Meters, Inc., which AMP hired to conduct the smart electric meter installations, were attempting to install AMP’s new meters at the apartment building. At the residence the workers noticed Rabe was blocking the grid where the meters would be installed. He had also wrapped a chain around his meter. 

Even though Rabe opted out of the program, restricting access to the electric meter is against the…

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ALAMEDA P.D. ARREST MAN FOR REFUSING MICROWAVE-PULSING METERS ON HIS KIDS BEDROOM WALL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                     Contact:  Joshua Hart, Director, Stop Smart Meters!
April 2nd, 2018                                                  info@stopsmartmeters.org  888.965.6435
ALAMEDA P.D. ARREST MAN FOR REFUSING MICROWAVE-PULSING METERS ON HIS KIDS BEDROOM WALL
Alameda’s so-called “smart meter opt out” leaves those in multi-unit housing exposed
Alameda, CA—Christopher Rabe, a 39-year resident of Alameda and father of two was arrested on Thursday, March 29th at 10:30am after peacefully standing in the way of Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) meter installers outside his apartment complex on Pacific St.
Rabe was held in Oakland Jail for 10 hours, and released after posting bail. He is being charged with 498(B)(2) (theft by meter tampering) despite the fact that clearly his intent was to prevent the smart meter installation, and represent the other apartment complex residents in refusing the meters, not steal power from the utility.
Mr Rabe is well-known to AMP—not only has he written the utility, attended meetings and even spoke in front of City Council, he has blocked access to meter installation on the property before.  Previously when the police were called, the meter installers were told (correctly) that Mr Rabe was within his right to block their access on this private property. Specifically, a previous incident report from September 13th, 2017 stated:
“(AMP) reported on blocking him from working on meters at the listed address. (Rabe) was uncooperative and would not move. (AMP) was advised (Rabe) was on private property and no crime had been committed and this issue was a civil matter…”
This time, Chris was arrested under what many are calling false pretenses of stealing electricity.  His neighbors and supporters are asking why.
Seven of the 12 other residents had authorized Chris in writing to refuse the installation of radiation meters on their behalf, as they were at work.  While Chris was being detained, 5 radiating meters were installed.
The entire bank of 13 meters is situated on the wall of his children’s bedroom and he is concerned that the radiation pulsing from the new meters will make them sick.  He has taken readings before and after the meter installation and now records radiation levels well above those that cause health damage, in peer-reviewed studies.
Chris and fellow members of Alamedans for Safe Energy plan to attend the City Council meeting on April 3rd to insist on an investigation into what they deem an illegal arrest. Contrary to what Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) claims, regardless of any “opt out” program, residents have the fundamental legal right to decide what technology they allow on their homes, and to live free of coercion and opt out fee extortion. Utility easements—which allow for reading and maintenance of a utility meter—do not permit the installation of electronic “smart meters,” deemed by many experts to be a serious threat to health, safety and privacy.
The March 29th arrest of Rabe follows the disconnection of electricity at the home of Tony Brasunas, an Alameda resident refusing to pay what he considers an unjust opt out fee to keep the safer analog on his home. Brasunas’ wife and 1 year old were startled when the power suddenly turned off last Tuesday in the midst of a cold day. A call to the utility led to the power being switched back on.
Josh Hart, Director of Northern California based Stop Smart Meters! spoke at an event at the Home of Truth in Alameda on March 19th, invited by Alameda Safe Energy, a group founded in October 2017 to organize and oppose deployment of a network of radiation-pulsing meters on the island. In response to the subsequent arrest, Hart stated:
“Individuals and communities have a right to say no to a technology that has been linked to cancer, surveillance, overcharging and fires. Our families have a right to be safe in our homes and in our communities. PG&E is not out on the streets disconnecting people who justifiably refuse to pay their opt out fees, but the City of Alameda is not only disconnecting its own residents, but apparently now arresting them – simply for making a choice.”
Local analog advocates point out that if residents of apartment buildings, who typically have a bank of meters on one wall, do not have a real “opt out” option, then no one in Alameda does.
Those opposed to smart meter technology insist that no energy provider has the right to force a device onto people’s homes, and into their communities against their will. So-called “smart” meters are devices that emit high levels of radiation that the World Health Organization (and most recently the National Toxicology Program) has linked to cancer. They also are used by police departments to surveil residents, and are linked to a series of home fires and have been subject to a series of major safety recalls.
Alameda residents angry about what they say is their city’s illegal and bullying behavior, plan to attend and speak out at the Alameda City Council meeting on Tuesday April 3rd at 7pm pm at 2263 Santa Clara Ave. More information can be found at www.alamedasafeenergy.org and www.stopsmartmeters.org

Silence from city officials on smart meter concerns

*This is a letter I wrote to Alameda city manager Jill Keimach*

Ms. Keimach,
By now you , the PUB, and CIty Council have seen the videos I sent you of my RF measurements of AMP’s smart meters. These videos prove that smart meters transmit far more than 1,717 times per day, and that RF radiation from the smart meters can and does enter homes.
This in direct contradiction of statements made by AMP GM Nico Procos to the City Council on 12/5/2017. At that meeting, he stated that smart meters transmit 1,717 times a day, and that RF radiation from smart meters does not enter homes. He also took out his smart phone and said “These are much more of a concern than smart meters.”
I was planning to make a video disproving Procos’ statement that smart phones are more of a concern, as they emit far less RF than a single smart meter when in use. The RF radiation from a smart phone is only detectable about 1 foot away, whereas I have detected RF from smart meters over 30 feet away. Also, I have the option of turning my phone off, or putting it in airplane mode, which stops all RF emissions. You cannot turn your smart meters off or put them in airplane mode. They are always on, always emitting a near constant stream of pulsed RF radiation. A bank of 5 or more smart meters emits constantly, 24/7.
However, this seems futile. I have already made videos proving that there’s more to the story, and what response have I got from city officials? Mayor Spencer was the only one who contacted me to discuss my findings. She put the issue on the City Council meeting agenda on 12/5/2017. Nothing came of it. The city attorney reminded the Council that they have no jurisdiction over AMP, and are essentially powerless to do anything.
When I first made Rebecca Irwin of AMP aware of my videos in September, she claimed the RF in my videos was from WiFi, my own cell phone, or some source other than the 21 smart meters I was standing in front of. I made her aware that my RF meter shows the frequency, and it was 900Mhz, the same frequency emitted by smart meters, and not the same as cell phones or WiFi, which emit a higher frequency. I also was not using a cell phone to record the video. She assured me that AMP had an RF meter and were going to do some testing to verify my results. I still have not heard back from her. I have not heard anything from the PUB, City Council, or you Ms. Keimach.
I believe the responsiblity lies on your shoulders. If you have not seen my videos, I urge you to please watch them. Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this? Shouldn’t AMP at least attempt to debunk my claims? Where is the results of their smart meter RF testing? This should be available for the public to see.
Here is the link to my videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu-P_X9K1Umq8_UHzYoxVWA/videos
Please let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing from you.

“Smart” Meter/Grid Facts

 

  1. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has called for a moratorium on smart meters based on the documented health hazards of microwave/radio frequency radiation from smart meters. www.AAEMonline.org
  2. The World Health Organization (WHO) has categorized radio frequency radiation as a Class 2B potential carcinogen (like lead, DDT and car exhaust).
  3. So far 57 local governments, mostly in California representing almost 4 million people, have passed ordinances that ban smart meter installations or make them illegal in their jurisdictions.
  4. After lying to the public and being ordered by an administrative law judge to answer specific questions, Pacific Gas & Electric disclosed the average number of radio frequency pulses from their smart meter were about 14,000 a day and the maximum would be over 190,000 pulses a day.
  5. Smart meters tie into a “smart grid” that dangerously compromises energy security by making the entire power grid vulnerable to hacking and cyber attacks.
  6. Those with access to smart meter databases can review a permanent history of household activities complete with calendar and time-of-day metrics to gain a highly invasive and detailed view of the lives of the occupants.
  7. Smart meters are, by definition, surveillance devices which violate Federal and State wiretapping laws by recording and storing databases of private, personal activities and behaviors without the consent or knowledge of those who are monitored. With analysis of certain smart meter data, unauthorized and distant parties may determine medical conditions, physical locations of persons within the home, vacancy patterns, personal information and habits of the occupants.
  8. AMP has not adequately disclosed their smart meter radio frequency specifications, or the particular recording and transmission capabilities of their smart meters, or the extent of the data that will be recorded, stored and shared, or the purposes to which the data will and will not be put.

Re: Place Moratorium on Smart Meters

I recieved a copy of this letter to the editor of the Alameda Sun by e-mail, from concerned citizen/author Tony Brasunas http://doublehappy.be/
Dear Editor:
I wholeheartedly agree with Christopher Rabe’s article “Place Moratorium on ‘Smart’ Meters.” Thank you to the Sun for publishing this important piece. Mr. Rabe’s writing led me to do research of my own, and I have found his insights to be both correct and likely unknown to many Alamedans. I recommend all concerned Alamedans learn about this and attend the Public Utilities Board meeting Monday, October 16 at 7pm to voice your thoughts about ‘Smart’ Meters.
The risks of these meters have not been fully studied, and the initial findings aren’t good. We should join other California counties in halting their use until more is known.
My wife and I live in a single family home with our infant son. Our son’s brain is developing every day. Why do we have to install a machine that will broadcast intense pulsed RF radiation 9,000 times per day? It is beyond me. The only benefit I can see is lining the pockets of AMP by letting them fire the people who read the meters.
We would like to opt out of these ‘Smart’ Meters, but as Mr. Rabe points out, the fees assessed by AMP for opting out are excessive. At $125 a pop, plus $10 each month, AMP seemingly plans to punish people now and every month forever. We would also like assurances that if we opt out, we will get an analog mechanical meter, not another radiation pulse machine.
Really, why does AMP need to assess fees at all? AMP saves money on each house that opts out by not having to pay for the equipment or the installation. Their costs for those of us who opt out can’t be any more than they’re already charging us.
A more fair way to assess the fees would be to give a discount to those who choose to opt in and accept the radiation risk, and leave the rest of us at our current rate structure, paying for regular meter reading. That way AMP would pass on the savings for not having to read the meters to those customers who accept the ‘Smart’ Meters. Otherwise, hmm, it appears AMP is forcing everyone into a plan that makes them money and subjects us to radiation. Not a win-win.

AMP, you are our community utility. You recently published a piece in these very pages praising community involvement in your decision-making. We want a role in this decision. Please provide us with all the facts, and let us as a community choose whether to halt ‘Smart’ Meters altogether — as other counties are doing — or to have an opt-in/opt-out model where those who opt in get a discount, and those who opt out pay the same rates we pay today.

Please place a moratorium on all ‘Smart’ Meters, or at least let us protect our children from the potential dangers of radiation without charging us fees forever to do so.

Respectfully submitted,

Tony Brasunas

Alameda, Ca.