Mad about Smart Meters?

By David F. Rooney

There seems to be an undercurrent of anger bubbling through town over BC Hydro’s new Smart Meters.

I could tell because I was button-holed by four different people in the 5 metres between Mountain Meals and the Museum and Archives within about 8 minutes on Monday. (I guess it was Smart Meter Day or something.) At any rate, these individuals were ticked off because they think they have no choice but to accept installation of the meters and they fear the devices will add to the general level of electro-magnetic radiation in our domestic environments and prove harmful to human health. They have also heard stories about Smart Meters causing fires and being responsible for huge sudden increases in hydro bills.

Now a local man, Frank Lemay, is trying to start a group to resist the meters’ introduction into Revelstoke.

“I believe it’s a bad technology that’s being imposed on people,” Lemay said in an interview at Conversations on Tuesday afternoon.

“There are a lot of unknowns about this, from the effects of radiation to the fact that people are being billed more once they accept the meters. I’m trying to spread the word.”

He’s also spending his own money to do that.

Lemay said people do not have to accept the meters into their homes. He says a website (www.citizensforsafetechnology) can provide then with form letters they can download, fill out and send to Hydro to refuse the meters. Citizens for Safe Technology is an organization that believes we are setting ourselves up for future grief by allowing our environment to be saturated with EM radiation from cell phones, cell phone towers, Smart Meters and other wifi devices. All this radiation, it says, could have a deleterious effect on the health of children now and in the future.

Lemay said he would like to go beyond the letter-writing stage and would like start a resistance group in town.

“If we can get 75 to 100 people we could do that and even bring in some speakers from Citizens for Safe Technology to talk about this issue,” he said, adding that people can e-mail him to let him know if they would support that.

Starting last July, Corix, a company hired by BC Hydro, began installing the controversial meters across the province. They are apparently now being installed in Revelstoke. Here’s the process they are using:

Hydro will send you a letter in the mail about three weeks before your new meter is scheduled to be installed. This letter will notify you of the changes being made and contain a brief explanation of the benefits that you as the customer will receive by getting a smart meter. There will also be information about how to find out more about the Smart Metering Program and the installation process. (Click here to can access BC Hydro’s basic Smart Meter information online).

Hydro also has a Frequently Asked Questions page and a video about Smart Meters. (Click here to access them.)

This is becoming an increasingly political issue.

On Monday, the Opposition put forward the following motion in the Legislature: ‘Be it resolved that this House urges the government to direct the BC Utilities Commission to do a full and comprehensive review of the Smart Metering Program.’

MLA Norm Macdonald noted that since the program’s inception the Opposition has been “opposed to the implementation of Smart Meters because this program has not received proper oversight from the British Columbia Utilities Commission.”

“Instead of allowing BCUC to review this $1 billion program, the BC Liberals exempted Smart Meters from BCUC’s mandate,” he said. in the Legislature. “Any time the government will not allow proper oversight of a program, you need to question what they are trying to hide.  Clearly, the government does not believe that the BCUC, which is responsible for ensuring fairness for both rate payers and shareholders, would allow the expenditure of the money on this program.

“People across the province have been clear that they have real concerns about Smart Meters.  Whether it is the cost of the program, the tendering of the contract or health concerns, the government has a responsibility to listen to the people.”