Amid hisses and boos from dozens of protestors who insist their health has been harmed by so-called \u201csmart meters,\u201d regulators Feb. 1 voted 4-0 to immediately allow Pacific Gas & Electric customers to swap out wireless meters or keep their analog meters hooked up for a fee. \u201cIt is our turn to speak,\u201d Mike Peevey, California Public Utilities Commission president, told the raucous crowd after two hours of testimony from more than 60 people. \u201cWe are not taking a step backward,\u201d he said before the vote. The meters with two-way communication devices are expected to allow ratepayers to better manage--and lower--their energy use, helping the state attain a more efficient smart grid, Peevey said. Regulators do not yet allow residential ratepayers to select energy pricing that fluctuates by day and season although digital meters that could enable it are widespread. The long-sought meter opt-out option is estimated to cost the utility $113.4 million this year and next year. About 90,000 people are wait-listed. Close to 150,000 ratepayers are expected to pursue wireless communication meter opt-outs, according to PG&E. The interim decision by Peevey allows PG&E to charge ratepayers who want analog meters, regardless of the reason, a $75 installation fee and a $10 monthly charge. Low-income ratepayers who want a wired meter are to pay a $10 initial fee and an extra $5 monthly charge. \u201cWe want to get cost recovery. It is different and more expensive,\u201d Helen Burt, PG&E customer care chief, said after the meeting. Much of PG&E\u2019s estimated cost is associated with developing an office system because non-digital meters cannot track and transmit energy usage electronically, according to the decision. The amount and allocation of the fees for ongoing on-site meter reading and the associated cost of installing or maintaining wired meters is to be determined in part two of the opt out proceeding. Regulators also are to weigh whether shareholders should bear part of the cost of the analog meters and whether part of the expense should be spread among all ratepayers. Regulators committed to closely tracking PG&E\u2019s interim expenses associated with the analog meters. They also are planning on deciding whether to tack an \u201cexit fee\u201d on those who unselect the smart meter option box. \u201cThere are many issues yet to be decided,\u201d Peevey said. After the vote at the meeting--from which commissioner Mike Florio was absent--many in the audience shouted they would sue to overturn the decision on grounds that it discriminates against people with radio frequency sensitivities. \u201cWe refuse to pay extortionist fees. Our health, privacy and safety are not for sale,\u201d said Josh Hart, Stop Smart Meters director. Commissioner Tim Simon called for the launch of a separate proceeding that looks at the customers\u2019 health claims.