PG&E Attempts to Muzzle Incriminating Details in Smart Meter Spy Scandal
2012-07-12 0:00

By Joshua Hart |

CPUC Investigation Reveals that Senior Execs Knew About- and Condoned Spying on Stop Smart Meters! and EMF Safety Network

PG&E’s proposed redactions in the CPUC investigative report make it fairly obvious that their entire senior management team- at the very least- knew about the identity falsification and spying and did nothing to prevent it.

While public anger continues to simmer over the imposition of illegal[1] and extortionate smart meter ‘opt out’ fees that continue to be hotly disputed at the California Public Utilities Commission, a CPUC Administrative Law Judge is set to decide this Friday July 13th how to respond to a Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) protective order attempting to seal details of how the head of PG&E’s entire SmartMeter program- along with the top management of PG&E- infiltrated and spied on health advocacy groups opposed to the new meters nearly two years ago.

In the Autumn of 2010, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the largest utility in the country, was rolling out the first major U.S. smart meter deployment in California, and facing a tsunami of public opposition. Responding to widespread reports of health issues following installation, overcharging, and alarm about privacy violations, local governments were scrambling to pass laws prohibiting smart meters[2], and protest groups were successfully blockading installation yards in Sonoma and Santa Cruz Counties. It appeared that what was going on in California might be putting the utility industry’s entire “smart grid” plans at risk (and by many accounts- it is). Executives responsible for the program were under an incredible amount of pressure to derail growing protests, cover up flaws in the project and prevent the facts about cheap, untested meters, electrical fires, health damage, privacy violations, and inaccurate billing- from spreading, putting at risk billions of profits to utility shareholders.

Instead of working with community groups to identify and correct hazards, top PG&E executives decided to spy on their “opponents.” William Devereaux was the Senior Director of PG&E’s smart meter program and the public face of Smart Meters in California between October 2009 and November 2010. He appeared at many community and local government meetings throughout PG&E’s service territory, vouching for the safety and benefits of PG&E’s smart meters. According to the CPUC’s Investigation on the Commission’s Own Motion into the Operations and Practices of Pacific Gas and Electric Company regarding Anti-Smart Meter Consumer Groups[3], Devereaux posed as Ralph Florea, an anti-smart meter protester. He began to spy on anti-smart meter groups in September 2010, forwarding private e-mails from activists and suggesting to other PG&E executives that they sign up for the private discussion lists as activists also. Finally, on Nov. 4th, 2010 Devereaux’s deceit was discovered when he tried to join a state-wide anti-smart meter coalition e-mail group, and his e-mail program betrayed his true identity. At the time, Devereaux was attempting to access a private forum dedicated to discussing strategy surrounding the EMF Safety Network’s legal proceeding- opposing SmartMeters on public health grounds at the CPUC, a position that has been backed up by physicians groups such as the American Academy of Environmental Medicine[4]. Devereaux admitted to the spying, resigned from his position at PG&E, and now works for Oracle as VP of Industry Strategy, where spying on the customers is apparently considered a career boost.


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