By David F. Rooney
The fight against smart meters will be elevated to a new level next week when Vernon-based electromechanical engineer Werner Hoffelinck comes to town to speak against installation of the devices.
Hoffelinck will be speaking at a locally organized meeting to be held at the Hillcrest Hotel on Wednesday, May 9, at 7 pm. Admission will be by donation.
Hoffelinck’s name will not be new to anyone who has been following the very public struggle to stop BC Hydro from installing the meters in the homes and businesses of its 1.9 million users.
The Belgian-born engineer has spoken publicly in the Okanagan, Vernon, Nakusp and elsewhere about the devised that he alleges can cause physical ailments, such as electrohypersensitivity.
A campaign to fight the installation of smart meters in the homes and businesses of Revelstokians who are concerned about their safety and accuracy has been quietly waged here for the last couple of week. For the most part there have been stories in the local news media, petitions and a campaign to get people to send BC Hydro letters opposing the meters.
But the stakes are higher with the arrival last week in late April of a team on installers from Corix, the company contracted by BC Hydro to install the devices. Suddenly what seemed a slightly threatening but vague threat assumed new dimensions and power.
Smart meters have been a major topic of discussion everywhere from Conversations, Sangha Bean and the Modern to the Stoke List.
BC Hydro officials addressed Council on the issue earlier in the year and last Thursday, April 26, two of the giant utility’s lead managers on the installation program addressed delegates to the Southern Interior Local Government Association convention at the Revelstoke Community Centre.
Roger Goodwin and Cindy Verschoor found a largely ready and welcome audience of men and women who had heard BC Hydro’s reassuring messages on smart meters before. Some, in fact, gleefully made quips about “tin foil hats” — an allusion to those smart-meter opponents whose fears are described by some as extreme, as in they’re wearing tin foil hats to ward off the mind-controlling rays emanated by the sinister agents of vast corporate and government conspiracies.
Verschoor, who did most of the talking at the SILGA event, and her colleague stayed away from such derogatory language. And they did acknowledge that there is some public opposition to the installation of smart meters. However, they said it was minimal.
“Ninety-nine per cent of our customers accept smart meters,” Verschoor said. “That one per cent represents about 19,000 who don’t want them.”
So far BC Hydro has been abiding by the wishes of those who don’t want them installed, but Verschoor said she did not how long the corporation would allow that situation to continue.
So far its policy is to allow trained representatives deal with customers fears one-on-one.
“Most of the people we talk to willingly accept them, she said.
Ultimately, smart meters, which have life spans of 25 years could replace every single one of the old meters, including those who owners resist them.
Hydro says the meters help consumers better manage their personal electrical consumption and they the company automatically pinpoint power outages (something it can’t now do without someone reporting it to them). They also will help combat electricity thefts and marijuana grow-ops.
Opponents claim the meters add to the growing burden of background electromagnetic radiation and some say this causes an assortment of illnesses. However, there has been no scientifically and medically accepted proof of that.