Smart meter critics hope for opt-out after B.C. election

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      If Quebeckers can say “no” to smart meters getting installed at their homes, then British Columbians should be able to do so as well.

      That’s according to Una St. Clair, executive director of the Citizens for Safe Technology Society.

      However, St. Clair doesn’t expect opt-out provisions to be incorporated in the smart meter program of B.C. Hydro before this year’s May provincial election.

      “I think it will have to wait until after the election,” St. Clair told the Straight in a phone interview. “I think the [B.C.] Liberals have painted themselves into a corner.”

      Conditions approved by Quebec utilities regulator Régie de l’énergie for opting out of so-called “new generation meters” went into effect on December 1, 2012.

      Electricity users in the La belle province “can opt for a meter determined by Hydro-Québec that has no radio-frequency emission”, according to the conditions laid out by the regulator.

      If a customer makes this choice, there is an installation charge of $137. Plus a monthly meter reading charge of $17.

      B.C. Hydro didn’t make a spokesperson available for an interview with the Straight.

      Instead, the power company offered a January 23, 2013, op-ed by Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas Rich Coleman, who emphasized that “smart meters are a necessary part of modernizing our grid”.

      Coleman also assured that B.C. Hydro “will not install a new meter without the homeowner’s consent and will work directly with customers to address their individual concerns”.

      According to the B.C. Liberal minister, B.C. Hydro has already installed 1.74 million smart meters throughout the province, and is “now in the process of installing the remaining 85,000”.

      Opposition energy critic John Horgan indicated that a B.C. NDP government will request the B.C. Utilities Commission review opt-out provisions in other jurisdictions.

      “We would prefer to see a cooling down period, and have this issue dealt with after the election,” Horgan told the Straight by phone.

      Critics of B.C.’s $930-million smart meter program have raised a host of concerns like health and privacy about the digital devices that are designed to record electricity consumption on an hourly basis. According to B.C. Hydro, smart meters send hourly consumption back to the public utility three times a day.

      Chris Anderson is a member of Gulf Islanders for Safe Technology. “I do not and never will,” the Salt Spring Island resident told the Straight by phone on whether he already has a smart meter at his home.

      He’ll go to great lengths to avoid subjecting himself to what he described as “data mining cash machines”. According to Anderson, “If necessary, I’ll go off grid.”


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      Jan 29, 2013 at 3:41pm

      Looking online for evidence that electromagnetic sensitivity symptoms are caused by electromagnetic fields... hm... this could take a while

      Derek Ward

      Jan 29, 2013 at 6:28pm

      I wonder how many customers will decide that smart meters aren't that bad once they see the installation charge and the monthly fee.

      Jan 30, 2013 at 12:18am

      I have been looking into this since the smart meter has been brought to my attention quite some time ago I have been definitely against it, I did not hesitate to let BC Hydro know my feelings on the matter, I even put signs on my meters. Are they listening? Absolutely no, they're using the dictatorship style in implementing their will upon us.

      Ralph Sadler

      This country is Democratic you would think, but there are those that wish to take that luxury away from us. Why? Certainly not for our benefit. I can only sum it all up as just plain greed on their part

      Ralph Sadler

      14 9Rating: +5

      Lee Leeman

      Jan 30, 2013 at 8:00am

      Well chalk one up for the Georgia Straight. Carlito Pablo's article is the only local media story that even hints at the real problem with smart meters. They are inded “data mining cash machines” as described in the article. What is the real purpose of a BILLION dollar installation like smart meters?

      ... to vaccum more out of your pocketbook via 'time of day' billing. This is the primary reason for the BILLION dollar expenditure, and you know exactly where that BILLION comes from.
      Although Hydro ( ie your provincial government ) claims it will not be data mining your meter, and promises that BC does not need to use time of day billing, it has still chosen to install a meter that has some surpising and invasive capabilities.

      Would you like BC Hydro to remotely control your furnace? How about denying you electrical service, and I dont mean turning of the power to your whole house. I mean taking control of an appliance like your clothes dryer and denying it permission to run except during hours determined by BC Hydro ( ie your government ). The ZigBee chip inside a smart meter has these capabilities if paired with smart appliances. There are places in the USA where electric utilities will offer the 'service' of handling demand by remoturning off air conditioners,for example.

      If you want to know what the company that makes the smart meter is actually selling, google ITRON Centron Gateway which is the model of meter Hydro installed in your house. Google Zigbee.

      It allows your gas meter, a water meter and any number of other surveillance devices to piggy back onto the smart meter network.

      As far as data mining goes, a smart meter measures much more than the simple kilowatt-hours that the old meters do. It can measure other electrical characteristics of power consumption and data mining software can identify at exactly what time you turned on a heater or an oven or a motor or a lighting device and can distinguish between these things (using Power Factor for example). It can do this down to the level of once a second if required.

      It won't be hard to log if you are home or not, what time you go to bed, when you make supper, if you watch tv and for how many hours.
      It was alarming enough to Elizabeth Denham, Information and Privacy commisioner, for her to write a report F11-03 re smart meter privacy concerns.
      That's why I refused a meter.

      17 7Rating: +10


      Jan 30, 2013 at 8:08pm

      Putting someone in a dangerous position, endangering their health or safety, and then asking for money to remove that danger is extortion. Having to pay NOT to have a dangerous, radiation-emitting, fire-causing device on your home certainly fits into that definition. If the govt. decides to charge fees, people who cannot afford to pay will have to live with the risks to them and their families, while people with money won't. This is discrimination. But then, this government has ignored our civil rights, threatened and intimidated, lied and mis-represented so adding extortion and discrimination is not that far a stretch for it.


      Feb 27, 2013 at 8:53pm

      What happens to tenants renting a house? DO they decide or does the landlord decide whether to accept the installation of these cancer-causing electromagnetic radiation emitting digital utility meters?
      What happens if the tenant has an already compromised immune system?

      11 6Rating: +5

      Gery Warner, PEng.

      Jul 20, 2013 at 11:56am

      Pardon for an installation and a monthly charge? I paid for the dams and the grid with taxes and power bills. Now, BC Hydro want to intrude and radiate and charge if I decline their "Smart" meter. How stupid do they think we are? Who is behind our legislaters that they can let this get this far?

      7 4Rating: +3