Local control over issues that affect local residents is an essential right of governments. When people cease recognizing the importance of that authority, conflicts arise.

So the PublicCEO Editorial Board was pleased when the Town of Fairfax decided to approve a city ordinance opposing Pacific Gas and Electric’s unwillingness to respond to residents’ concerns about the use, installation, and implications of SmartMeters. Therefore, we are pleased to present the Town of Fairfax with the PublicCEO Ordinance of the Year.

Before the vote was taken on the ordinance, the meeting was opened to public comment that was reported by at least one news agency as being “raucous.” In fact, Councilman Larry Bragman said that PG&E’s program was “a system that is being forced upon us.” He also stated that banning the meters was an example of “what we were elected to do.”

And that’s what they were trying to do: protect the rights of residents.

That action was both meritorious and an effective means to protest on behalf of their residents. Therefore, we are proud to present this recognition as part of PublicCEO’s Second Annual Local Government Awards.

The Town of Fairfax is home to approximately 7,000 people and is located in Marin County. The county later became the center of a struggle between localities and PG&E. While Fairfax wasn’t the first town or city to object to PG&E’s unresponsiveness, this ordinance made the town one of the leaders.

The ordinance, which was approved 4-0, established a six-month moratorium. Originally, the ordinance was intended to stop the installation of SmartMeters for one year, but on the same day the ordinance was approved PG&E offered to voluntarily suspend their installation. They said they were intended to use the self-imposed suspension to educate the public on the SmartMeters. In light if that offer, the moratorium was shortened to six months. The town council would then extend the ordinance if the town believed PG&E hadn’t kept its word.

The ordinance mentioned that the “justification given for the SmartMeters program is the assertion that it will encourage customers to move some of their electricity usage from daytime to evening hours; however, PG&E has conducted no actual pilot projects to determine whether this assumption is in fact correct.”
However, the city felt that there was a disconnect between that promise and the reality of the SmartMeters. “PG&E’s confirmation that SmartMeters have provided incorrect readings costing ratepayers untold thousands of dollars.”

Other issues the city wanted to address were the “current and immediate threat to public health, safety and welfare because…significant health questions have been raised…” and that the meters “disclose detailed information about private details of daily life.”

Further Information:

Join us in congratulating the Town of Fairfax on this award in local government.

Other Winners Announced Today:

PublicCEO Service to the State Award

Stay tuned this week for more Local Government Awards from PublicCEO.com. For more information, please contact the editor, Dan Oney at Dan@PublicCEO.com.