Former mayor objects to BC Hydro smart meters

The concerns about the installation of new electric metering devices at residences in Lake Country continue to be raised.

The concerns about the installation of new electric metering devices at residences in Lake Country continue to be raised.

Known as smart meters, the soon to be installed meters will replace the current analog meters and wirelessly transmit usage data to BC Hydro several times per day.

When the subject was brought to District of Lake Country council last August, there was public opposition.

This time, former  Lake Country mayor  Rolly Hein is raising his objections.

Hein has multiple concerns about the installation of smart meters. His four main issues are personal consent to the change, radio frequency energy contamination and two types of privacy issues—the possibility of the devices being hacked or tampered with by malicious people and BC Hydro using smart meter data for unfair billing.

In a written statement Hein asserts: “The power company has no delegated authority from the people to install a security risking, privacy invading, health threatening, hackable, unfair billing, or wide power grid security threatening device on anyone’s property.”

Hein has attached notices to his own analog meters denying consent for the meters to be replaced.  He says the installation of new technology goes against the original service agreement he signed with BC Hydro. “They have no authority to change the agreement,” says Hein.

BC Hydro’s Cindy Verschoor is the manager of communications for the BC Hydro Smart Metering Program.

Verschoor explains that BC Hydro currently exchanges 45,000 meters per year in the province.

“The agreement provides access to read, maintain and exchange meters,” says Verschoor.

Electricity is to be supplied “safely and reliably” as Verschoor explains the right to entry for BC Hydro is covered under three separate pieces of legislation in British Columbia—the Federal Electricity and Gas Inspection Act for all utilities, the Hydro and Power Authority Act and the Electric Tariff Act.

Right now if a customer does not want a new smart meter installed, Verschoor explains that customer can call BC Hydro, have their file flagged and BC Hydro will hold off on the exchange until the utility has had the chance to talk to the customer.

“We’ve had over 1,800 people initially refuse then accept the smart meter,” she says.

Hein describes his experience with raising concerns about installation as “sending an email and then they ignore me because the questions are too hard.”

As to questions about the safety, the meters are not CSA approved because the devices are not intended for personal household use. Instead, the meters are safety regulated by the British Columbia Electrical Safety Regulations; the American National Standards Institute; the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and International Electrotechnical Commission.

BC Hydro says a person would have to stand next to a meter for 20 years to accumulate the equivalent exposure to radio frequency emissions of a 20-minute cell phone call.

As to privacy issues, BC Hydro insists the meters transmit only encrypted information and do not store that encrypted information.

“They (the meters) monitor household activity and occupancy in violation of rights and domestic security,” Hein argues.

Within the ebb and flow of daily electrical consumption are the details of modern life, and Hein’s argument is those   details are beyond the purview of BC Hydro.

Smart meters have the potential to introduce time of day billing and that doesn’t reflect the lives of B.C. residents, says Hein. “You use the same amount of electricity whether you do your laundry at three in the afternoon or three in the morning. The idea that BC Hydro should be able to charge you more for the same amount of electricity is wrong.”