Testimony by Kathy Ging at EWEB 10.1.13

Testimony to EWEB board by Kathy Ging, 10/1/13

You heard ratepayer-owner views cautioning you, as public stewards, not to undertake an experimental technology rife with numerous controversies not the least of which is pending litigation in several states and countries.

 

Where EWEB went wrong was in not following primary advice in how to try to matriculate the smart meter program by setting up a citizen advisory committee – which your staff in early emails said they thought was a good idea.

Good Company’s triple bottom line report on smart meters which EWEB authorized, dated August, 2011, recommended focus groups and gave the impression that these should be an ongoing public involvement process.

Instead, only one focus group was held at the early stage (to the best of my knowledge).

Those questioning smart meters and outright opponents were not invited. No ongoing attempt to involve the broad intellectual and experiential skills of our unique community in doing a DISCOVERY was in evidence – the sine qua non for major public policy undertakings like smart meters that have been called the biggest electric utility development since power lines.

Good Company’s Executive Summary, Page One:

(QUOTE)  “Any AMI strategy will succeed only if it engages the community as a whole. Eugene is known for a high bar of public involvement, but AMI efforts elsewhere have suffered when they have failed to engage the public on AMI”  and  “A careful and open approach will reap both goodwill and an energy future worth aspiring to.”  (UNQUOTE)

Page 4 of Good Company’s report recommends conducting focus groups, yet outreach did not allow input by the public increasingly educated and wanting to be more involved not only in discovery but also in the display of info on EWEB’s website. Little or no information critiquing smart meter potential problems was available to the public either by newsletters like the Pipeline, website, Facebook or public forums sponsored by EWEB (no members of Families

for SAFE Meters were invited to present).   Public input questioning smart meters or alerting the Board to risks was allowed and recorded in the minutes but few ratepayers read minutes.

Another problem of which new board members should be aware is Good Company’s report did NOT investigate, then include, the increasing number of smart meter moratoriums that had surfaced by August, 2011, in California and elsewhere. As a result, the Board did not receive an accurate state-of-the-technology analysis or the growing public resistance to the smart meter and grid – emerging controversies like fraudulent representations by utilities of signal emissions and effects, cost-benefits, fires and explosions, privacy and cyber grid vulnerability concerns, Fourth Amendment violations and more.

The report SHOULD have been more investigative instead of perfunctory and should have been updated in 2012 and 2013 but was not.  Instead, staff, uninformed or blissfully ignorant about whirling controversies exploding worldwide, often assumed a supercilious attitude toward the public that marginalized responsible citizens trying to educate themselves because a vacuum in leadership was notable at EWEB.    EWEB continually presented the technology to the public as if it was a DONE DEAL not an experimental technology to be tested and evaluated. No health warnings appeared on their web site.

“I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.” –Thomas Jefferson

The tragedy of the EWEB Commons is that EWEB management and staff, apparently operating under misguided board directives particularly, it would seem, of the two longer serving board members, neglected to involve the public sufficiently so EWEB has experienced and will continue to suffer from a huge backlash if  AMI options 1 or 2 are approved. The safe alternative is to vote for ZERO.

The fait accompli approach that marginalized questions by an increasingly informed public led to the still growing mistrust of EWEB as a utility on which owner-ratepayers can rely. Many reasons exist for that stance which I won’t pursue here but will be explored if relevant in future statements.

Finally, a man contacted me who had been in public office and knows about health consequences of RF/MW and was the funding source for the recent RG ads. He also stated his intention to help with a petition campaign if needed.

Thank you for taking the RIGHT action so that the public does not have to pay penalties later.