BC Hydro is in the midst of installing smart meters in homes across the province. A spokesperson for the company presented information to the District of Lake Country Council about the electricity use meters and answered questions from councilors. Lake Country activist Hans Karow attended the meeting in opposition to the smart meter installation and requested Council give those opposed to the meters more time to make their case.
The BC Hydro smart meter program is being rolled out across the province. The utility makes the case that the current analog meters are old, do not give the company or its customer’s valuable information and upgrading the meters will help strengthen the reliability of electricity across BC.
Gary Murphy is the consultant in charge of the BC Hydro program and he made the case for smart meter installation. Murphy cited the growing use of the meters across North America, the business case and predicted cost savings and that BC Hydro considers the meters to be very safe. The smart meter technology is expected to help streamline energy consumption in the face of demand that is expected to grow by 40 percent over the next 20 years.
The data will be accurate enough to pinpoint power outages, leading to shorter outage duration and much safer work conditions for technicians. One of the key benefits is the ability of smart meters to notify BC Hydro of abnormal consumption, a real problem in the reality of electricity theft. Up to $100 million in electricity is stolen from the grid each year, generally funding the drug trade, it is a cost directly borne by consumers.
The smart meters are wireless and will transmit data to localized receivers using a pulse technology that BC Hydro considers safe and has research to prove its understanding of the technology. BC Hydro states the amount of radiation from the technology is, “The equivalent of exposure as thirty minute cell phone call.”
While that fact from BC Hydro was made in writing at the presentation it is flat out not true says Sharon Noble who is working with Hans Karow to put pressure on municipal governments throughout the province. Their goal is to have municipalities write to the health minister reporting a possible health issue as is required under the health act. To that end their organization has published information stating BC Hydro has made 26 false or misleading statements in the smart meter program.
“It is the spikes in energy from the smart meters that cause damage,” says Noble. “These pulsing signals from the smart meters are so high we can’t measure them. They are making it sound like it is insignificant, that’s false.”
Noble expects social costs to rise as she fully expects smart metering to move to time of day billing, “Nowhere has there been a reduction in electricity costs where smart meters have been introduced. In Ontario costs have gone up by fifty to sixty percent. Why can’t we learn from their mistake? BC Hydro is trying to divert daytime use to be able to sell electricity to the US during the day.”
In the end Noble, Karow and concerned citizens from across the province are asking for more time to consider the options available before smart meters go any further. “People are scared and very concerned and we would urge people to get involved,” says Noble.
The public is more than welcome to ask questions of BC Hydro says spokesperson Dag Sharman. “You can call the 1-800 number or visit the website for more contact info.”
BC Hydro is not yet installing the smart meters in Lake Country but there will be a series of notifications including newspaper ads and home mailings four to six weeks prior to installations beginning.