A not-so-smart backlash against BC Hydro - Macleans.ca

A not-so-smart backlash against BC Hydro

The battle against wireless “smart metres” finds some middle ground


Ward Perrin / PNG; Carlos Osorio / CP

Opponents of BC Hydro’s “smart meter” program have won a pyrrhic victory in a battle against the devices, which wirelessly transmit data on power consumption, or outages, to the provincial crown corporation. Groups like Citizens for Safe Technology and the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters have threatened lawsuits and human rights complaints, and together with the union representing now-obsolete meter readers, have waged a campaign claiming the devices invade privacy and boost costs while the radio waves jeopardize health. BC Hydro claims the total radio wave exposure over a meter’s 20-year life equals one 30-minute cellphone call.

The corporation has already installed 1.8 million meters. Last week, with 96 per cent of customers converted over, provincial Energy Minister Bill Bennett threw a bone to the 60,000 refuseniks: They can keep their analog meters or accept new ones with the transmitters disabled. There’s a still-undetermined fee for either option to pay for meter reading and modification. Bennett calls it “an appropriate balance” to ensure those with smart meters don’t subsidize those who opt out.

The fight will continue, said Una St. Clair and Sharon Noble, heads of the anti-meter groups. “It is imperative the Smart Grid as a whole be stopped before irreparable damage has been done to fauna, flora and humans from the pulsed microwave radiation mesh blanketing our province,” they said in a statement. It’s unlikely they’ll reverse a wireless tide. Ontario and Quebec are also installing millions of smart meters. And as the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association notes, 27 million Canadians have cellphones, and 99 per cent of the population has access to wireless services.

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A not-so-smart backlash against BC Hydro

  1. We will be paying for reading services?????? How come we did not pay for those services before Mr.Bennett? You just rammed Smart meters down the throat of 96 % customers and now you going to charge rest of us?? Let me tell you.You are a piece of work. You will not get my vote ever again.

    • Surely, you are kidding. Did you think that meter readers worked without compensation? And the linemen? And how about all that concrete for the dams? Yes, you are paying for that, and more, too. Shock, horror!!

      • Meter reading was factored into your hydro bill. There’s no reason for those of us who have refused meters to be charged the outrageous amount for reading that they are proposing. I’ll gladly phone in or send a picture of my meter and once a year they can have someone come out to verify my usage and adjust the bill accordingly. What those of you who were forced to have a ‘smart’ meter should be asking is, why aren’t you getting a reduction in your hydro bill seeing as the meter reading is no longer needed?

        • The honor system you mentionned, now THAT’s a utopian wet dream…
          Maybe Hydro is ripping us off, but I, for one, am glad I don’t also have to pay for the unnecessary overhead of having to maintain the old fashioned human-reader system running for the sake of those who fear radio emissions.

          • Actually the system referred to is actually IN USE by BC Hydro on properties it finds too dffficult to read. My brother works for that department and informed me of the facts. People fill out a card and send it in to Hydro.

      • The hold outs as Mr. Bennett calls them are also ALREADY paying for the smart meters that we don’t have, because as you point out, that cost is already built into the rate structure. The additional fee by Mr. Bennett is extortion and bullying designed to force us all into accepting his utopian wet dream.

    • The refuseniks in BC can expect something like a $137 one-time install fee for the non-RF meter and a $17/month meter reading charge. That’s what was decided last year by Quebec’s Régie de l’énergie.

      • Do you not think it strange that this is the same tactic being adopted around the world? Did every utility and every government just wake up one day and come to the very same strategy by chance? This thing is being co-ordinated at a lever that is overriding your own government’s ability to act independently and on behalf of you as a citizen. That should be very frightening to all of us and is perhaps the most compelling reason that British Columbians should say “NOT HERE!”

        • Letting people who are aware of the New World Order opt out of their population-controlling technology is a very cunning tactic indeed.

    • The cost of reading the meters comes out of the daily “basic charge”. When smart meters get installed, the additional cost of the meters themselves is supposed to be offset by the fact that you don’t need to physically read them any more.

      Also, economies of scale dictate that the cost per meter to read 1.8 million meters is significantly less than to read 60,000. 1/30th as many meters does not mean 1/30th the cost to read them. They still have to cover the same approximate area, only with fewer stops. It’s the same reason why dedicated meter-reading companies will often contract to multiple utilities. Once you’ve paid to equip and transport staff, the incremental cost of reading additional meters is miniscule.

      For example: If it costs $10 million per year to read 1.8 million meters, that’s $5.56 per meter. It might then cost $2 million to read 60,000 meters, or $33.33 per meter.

    • No – you are being charged for being idiots and fear mongerers.I hope BC Hydro charges more than Quebec Hydros $17 per month.

  2. This article is an excellent example of a propaganda piece. It even contains all the necessary elements: red-herrings, half-truths, and disinformation. Thank you.

    • Artfully refuted, professor!

  3. If you think this is inaccurate consider this: The propaganda is in full swing when BC Hydro attempted to convince us these are good for us, the environment and BC’s accounting. They are expensive and provide zero tangible benefit. That’s right. Someone show me the math and I’ll show you a net-negative cost. Anyways…they cost BC Hydro nearly 1 billion dollars, and now they need to recoup. The negative consequences are many (tin foil hats not withstanding) and the regulators have sidestepped the BCUC specifically to allow these. Ther re-wrote the Clean Energy Act in 2010 to make way for these meters http://goo.gl/qBW4IL

    Perhaps you have full trust in BC Hydro? If so you may have been sleeping at the wheel : http://goo.gl/d1m1gq The whole utility is slowly going bankrupt for to mismanagement and fraudulent accounting at which point it will likely get privatized. http://goo.gl/7SeroJ Say goodbye to energy for the people and hello to energy for private profit. BC Hydro – the smartest guys in the room ?

  4. ” “It is imperative the Smart Grid as a whole be stopped before irreparable damage has been done to fauna, flora and humans from the pulsed microwave radiation mesh blanketing our province,” ” Hundreds of millions of meters have been been installed around the world. There have been no effects to flora, fauna or humans demonstrated by rigorous scientific inquiry. A handful of of folks feel they are affected, but it is not the responsibility of government or the rest of the society to acknowledge their irrational claims or fears, nor to accept additional costs or the swallow the foregone benefits of not switching to smart meters. You have been handed an olive branch folks; you can either seize it, or waste your time and the time of everyone else in continuing to fight an illogical and useless fight.

  5. I have refused a Smart Meter. The reason has nothing to do with radio emissions. It has to do with handing a government and a corporation that kind of surveillance device in my house.
    Hydro did not buy the cheapest simplest kind of meters to install. They TELL you it only measures kilowatt hours of use. That is untrue. It is actually a data acquisition and control hub. It measures other things as well, one being time of day, others being power factor, voltage, etc. These readings can be made fast enough to create an electrical signature of any device in your house over time. Yes, even without smart appliances, that kind of information and the right mining software can distinguish between a hair dryer and room lighting, a cooking appliance and a clothes dryer.
    The meter can act as a hub to piggyback a gas meter or water meter for more extensive surveillance and billing. Further, the meter incorporates Zigbee networking technology. It can be used to communicate with and CONTROL Smart appliances that also incorporate zigbee. These may well become mandatory in the future. Notice this is no longer just about measuring your electric consumption. This system could be used to ration power to your home, or even deny you service on an APPLIANCEby appliance basis. It means BC Hydro could take control of your clothes dryer and deny operation of it, say, until late night, or until all the electric cars in your neighbourhood are charged.
    Now I realize that there are some people with a dumb smirk on their faces at this point, but I urge those people to go to ITRON’s website ( smart meter manufacturer) and look up all that your model of Smart Meter can do. You could also google Smart AC where California electric utilities reduce power to air conditioners during high demand times. They even sell the service.
    Years ago, I remember shopping at Toys R Us in Burnaby BC at Christmas. It was very hot in the store and I mentioned that to the clerk. She told me there was nothing they could do. The heat was controlled out of Toronto. And I know that to be old technology so it is not a wet dream or a pipe dream. It is real and happening now.
    Should we hand that kind of power over to a public utility or government? I think the answer is NO and that is why I refused the meter.

    • Yeah, I don’t see any fundamental problem with any of this. Of course it could be misused or abused by the supplier (as any useful technology ever), but in a pinch, I’d rather have selective rationing per appliance than the classic rolling blackouts. Don’t you? Which one is the less convenient you think?
      Also, the tech you described could eventually allow overriding the rationing for a fee, the same way they modulate tolls on bridges to control traffic. It could also diagnose your energy input and help identify rogue electricity consumption in your home. Oh and It goes both ways, too: plugged-in cars can be used as temporary emergency energy backup, even compensating their owner for the output.
      The grid is becoming smart with or without you, deal with it.

  6. Not the radiation I’m worried about, I don’t want my HOUSE TO BURN DOWN! No smart meter for me!

  7. Smart meters are non legal under b.c privacy law. E Denham did a report in 2011, in her
    report she failed to understand how the hardware of a smart meter functions. Itron smartmeter, has a infared led, stated use is meter testing. The testing function was never turned off, this result, for every watt hour of power used the meter, flashes the IR led on.
    A IR light , digital signal, sending you real time ussage data, to anyone, non encrypted. Also the IR led provides IR light source at your home, IR light is used by night vison devices to see at night. This is a security issue, that endangers smart meter users privacy and security. No place does the clean energy act state hydro is authorized to install a IR light at your home, or to send your ussage data non encrpted. If you had one of these meters the B.C privacy act would allow you to sue as a recource.

    Call E Denham at B.C privacy commission she is aware of the issue just need 60,000 phone calls to do something constructive.

    Hope that helps you.

  8. Smart meters, further, the IR testing Led is left turned on, It transmits a digital signal, once per watt hour used. The leter stating you get a smart meter or a smart meter with out radio on, or a anolog meter . The only meter in those options the meets the
    requirements of B.C privacy laws , the Anolog meter, Both smart meters have the IR

    Led turned on, infact the IR led cant be truned off, in the IRTON meter. Its hard wired into the circuits, to flash once per watt hour.

    Call the B.C Privacy Commissionar E Denham and ask, why her 2011 report on smart meters failed to identify this issue, and ask what she is doing with B.C’s 1.9 million non legal smart meters.