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Questions have been raised about the possible health effects of 60-hertz (power frequency) electric and magnetic fields (EMF*), which are found wherever there is electric power. This insert contains information to help you understand the EMF issue as well as practical tips you can use to reduce your exposure at home and work.
Campos Eléctricos y Magnéticos (EMF, por sus siglas en inglés): Si desea recibir información en español, comuníquese con Pacific Gas and Electric Company al 1-800-660-6789.
Can EMF Harm Your Health?
Electric and magnetic fields are present wherever electricity flows—around appliances and power lines in offices, and at schools and homes. Many researchers believe that if there is a risk of adverse health effects from usual residential exposures to EMF, it is probably just at the detection limit of human health studies. Nonetheless, any possible risk warrants further investigation. Varying results from epidemiological studies that looked at estimated EMF exposures and childhood leukemia are consistent with a weak link. Laboratory studies, including studies investigating a possible mechanism for health effects (mechanistic studies), provide little or no evidence to support this weak link.
Results from many research studies have been evaluated by international, national, and California EMF research programs to determine whether EMF poses any health risk. Given the uncertainty of the issue, the medical and scientific communities have been unable to conclude that usual residential exposures to EMF cause health effects or to establish any standard or level of residential exposure that is known to be either safe or harmful. These facts remain unchanged by recent studies.
*The term EMF in this publication refers to extremely low frequency (ELF) 60-hertz electric and magnetic fields associated with power delivered by electric utilities. It does not refer to radio frequency (RF) waves associated with wireless communications such as cell phones.
World Health Organization Findings
The World Health Organization (WHO) completed a review of the potential health implications of extremely low frequency (ELF) EMF, which includes power-frequency fields. The group’s conclusions and recommendations were presented in June 2007 in a report titled Extremely Low Frequency Fields, Environmental Health Criteria Monograph No. 238.
The WHO report concludes that evidence for a link between ELF magnetic fields and childhood leukemia “is not strong enough to be considered causal but sufficiently strong to remain a concern.” “Virtually all laboratory and mechanistic evidence from SOURCE(s) fail to support” this reported association. For all other diseases, there is inadequate or no evidence of health effects at low exposure levels.
The report emphasizes that, given the weakness of the evidence for health effects, the health benefits of exposure reduction are unclear and adopting policies based on arbitrary low exposure limits is not warranted. In light of this situation, WHO made these and other recommendations:
View the full report and a fact sheet summarizing it and click on EMF publications and information resources.
What You Can Do
In a situation of scientific uncertainty and public concern, WHO recommended that utilities explore “very low-cost” ways to reduce EMF exposure from new or upgraded facilities. PG&E and other California public utilities have been pursuing no-cost and low-cost measures to reduce EMF levels from new utility transmission lines and substation projects. You, too, may want to take no-cost and low-cost measures to reduce your EMF exposure at home and at work.
Human studies have not produced a consensus about any health benefits from changing the way people use electric appliances. However, if you feel reducing your EMF exposure would be beneficial, you can increase your distance from electric appliances and limit the amount of time you use appliances at home or at work.
For instance, you can place phone answering machines and electric clocks away from the head of your bed. Increasing your distance from these and other appliances such as televisions, computer monitors and microwave ovens can reduce your EMF exposure.
You can also reduce your EMF exposure by limiting the time you spend using personal appliances such as hair dryers, electric razors, heating pads and electric blankets. You may also want to limit the time you spend using electric cooking appliances.
You can locate the sources of EMF in your work environment, and spend break time in lower-field areas.
It is not known whether such actions will have any impact on your health.
For More Information
Call PG&E for a free information package or home or business measurements at 1-800-743-5000.
Additional information is also available at these links:
World Health Organization International EMF Project:
Visit www.who.int/peh-emf for EMF information, including fact sheets, research completed and scientific journal articles.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences:
Visit www.niehs.nih.gov/health and click on Brochures & Fact Sheets, then select EMFs in English or Spanish.
California Department of Health Services:
California Public Utilities Commission:
Visit www.cpuc.ca.gov and enter "EMF Actions" in the Search box.
Reviewed by: California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)
On September 1, 2015, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) filed an application (15-09-001) with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) requesting approval to increase rates to operate, maintain and upgrade PG&E’s electric distribution, gas distribution and electric generation facilities. The requested rate increase would begin January 1, 2017. This application is known as PG&E’s General Rate Case (GRC) and will be reviewed in a public process. After the public process, the CPUC will then make a decision on what is reasonable for customers to pay in rates. If approved, this request will increase PG&E’s revenue requirement by $457 million in 2017, $489 million in 2018 and $390 million in 2019 for gas and electric service. PG&E is requesting total increase of $2,739 million for the 2017–2019 GRC.
About the filing
Every three years, PG&E is required to file a GRC with the CPUC. The annual revenue requirement is the total amount of money a utility collects through rates in a given year for specific purposes. The increase in revenue requested in this GRC will be used to make the following investments:
The GRC does not include fuel-related costs addressed in the CPUC’s Energy Resources Recovery Account proceedings (A.15-06-001), electric transmission-related costs addressed at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or gas transmission and storage (A.13-12-012) costs which are filed in separate applications.
Estimated impact on electric rates
For 2017, the forecasted electric revenue requirement increase is $372 million. PG&E estimates that, initially, the requested increase in electric revenues would be distributed as shown in the table below.
If the CPUC approves PG&E’s request for an electric rate increase, the electric bill for a typical residential customer using 500 kilowatt hours per month would increase by $2.86 or 3.2 percent from $89.30 to $92.16. Individual customer bills may vary. Rates would become effective January 1, 2017.
How will PG&E’s application affect non-bundled customers?
Direct Access (DA) and Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) customers only receive electric transmission and distribution service from PG&E. Since PG&E does not obtain energy for these customers, the net impact of PG&E’s application on DA and CCA customers is $13 million, or an average increase of 1.8 percent.
Estimated impact on gas rates
For 2017, the forecasted gas distribution revenue increase is $85 million. The actual distribution of the increase to each customer class depends on how the CPUC ultimately decides the GRC.
If the CPUC approves PG&E’s request for a gas rate increase, the gas bill for a typical residential customer using 34 therms per month would increase by $1.20 or 2.3 percent from $51.33 to $52.53. Individual customer bills may vary. Rates would become effective January 1, 2017.
While the GRC will determine the total amount of money PG&E can collect in rates for certain purposes, the design of the actual rates themselves and the price charged to customers will be determined in separate proceedings to be filed in the future with the CPUC. The actual distribution of the increase to each customer class depends on how the CPUC ultimately decides the GRC, as well as in the separate electric rate design proceeding expected to be filed with the CPUC in the first quarter of 2016.
How do I find out more about PG&E’s proposals?
If you have questions about PG&E’s filing, please contact PG&E at 1-800-743-5000. For TDD/TTY (speech-hearing impaired), call 1-800-652-4712.
If you would like a copy of PG&E’s filing and exhibits, please write to PG&E at the address below:
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
2017 General Rate Case
P.O. Box 7442San Francisco, CA 94120
A copy of PG&E’s filing and exhibits are also available for review at the CPUC, 505 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon. PG&E’s application (without exhibits) is available on the CPUC’s website at www.cpuc.ca.gov/puc.
The GRC is publicly available to ensure transparency and opportunity for public involvement.
This application will be assigned to an Administrative Law Judge (Judge) who will determine how to receive evidence and other related documents necessary for the CPUC to establish a record upon which to base its decision. Public Participation Hearings will be held at various locations to receive public comments on PG&E’s application and more information about them will be provided in the future once they are scheduled. Further, evidentiary hearings will be held where parties will present their testimony and may be subject to cross-examination by other parties. These evidentiary hearings are open to the public, but only those who are formal parties in the case can participate.
After considering all proposals and evidence presented during the hearings, the assigned Judge will issue a proposed decision which may adopt PG&E’s proposal, modify it or deny it. Any of the five CPUC Commissioners may sponsor an alternate decision. The proposed decision, and any alternate decisions, will be discussed and voted upon at a scheduled CPUC Voting Meeting.
As a party in the case, the Office of Ratepayer Advocates (ORA) will review this application. ORA is the independent consumer advocate within the CPUC with a legislative mandate to represent investor-owned utility customers to obtain the lowest possible rate for service consistent with reliable and safe service levels. ORA has a multi-disciplinary staff with expertise in economics, finance, accounting and engineering. For more information about ORA, please call 1-415-703-1584, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ORA’s website at www.ora.ca.gov.
If you would like to follow this proceeding, or any other issue before the CPUC, you may use the CPUC’s free subscription service. Sign up at: http://subscribecpuc.cpuc.ca.gov/. If you would like to learn how you can participate in the proceeding, or if you have informal comments about the application, or questions about the CPUC processes, you may access the CPUC’s Public Advisor Office (PAO) webpage at www.cpuc.ca.gov/puc and click on “Public Advisor” from the CPUC Information Menu. You may also contact the PAO as follows:
Mail: Public Advisor’s Office
505 Van Ness Avenue, Room 2103
San Francisco, CA 94102
Call: 1-866-849-8390 (toll-free) or 1-415-703-2074
TTY 1-866-836-7825 (toll-free) or 1-415-703-5282
If you are writing or emailing the Public Advisor’s Office, please include the proceeding number (2017 GRC, A.15-09-001).
All comments will be circulated to the Commissioners, the assigned Judge and appropriate CPUC staff, and will become public record.
© Pacific Gas & Electric Company