Smart meter opt-out choices called discriminatory

A Hornby Island opponent of BC Hydro smart meters says options presented by Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett are discriminatory.

A Hornby Island opponent of BC Hydro smart meters says options presented last week by Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett are discriminatory.

People refusing smart meters can opt out from standard smart meter installation, but they will pay to do so. BC Hydro has three options for those who have refused smart meter installation, Bennett  announced Thursday.

They can:

• Accept a standard smart meter;

• Accept a digital meter with the radio turned off, which would mean a one-time cost estimated at $100 for installation, plus a fee of about $20 per month to cover the cost of reading the meter;

• Keep their analog meter and pay a monthly fee — as yet unannounced — which would cover the cost of reading the meter, plus the cost of creating a separate system to record consumption for billing.

Ministry communications director Matt Gordon says the cost to keep an analog meter should be announced “sooner rather than later,” noting the cost to of the separate system is more complex for BC Hydro to calculate.

According to a Ministry news release, these fees will be reviewed by the BC Utilities Commission before they become official “to ensure that BC Hydro is only recovering the cost of providing and servicing the radio-off and analog options.”

Will Thomas — a Hornby Island resident who represented a group dubbed Royston Citizens for Safe Technology in an anti-smart meter presentation to the Comox Valley Regional District over a year ago — calls the options discriminatory.

“Some of the costs … $100 to set up a digital meter, $20 a month to read it, and whatever the costs are for an analog, will deny the very ‘opt out’ option to British Columbians who cannot afford this additional fee structure,” he says. “So it appears to be discriminatory on the face of it for people who cannot economically afford to exercise these so-called options, and I call this extortion.”

Bennett notes the aim behind the fees is to ensure extra costs BC Hydro will incur from the other options are not subsidized by all BC Hydro customers who have standard smart meters.

“This decision finds an appropriate balance between addressing the concerns raised by people who have put their meter installation on hold, while ensuring that the majority of customers who have a standard smart meter will not be paying for those who select an opt out option,” says Bennett in the release.

“As we have said, nobody will be forced to take a smart meter. I believe that this is a fair and reasonable solution for all British Columbians.”

Thomas says British Columbians were never asked whether they wanted to opt in.

“We never opted in, therefore we don’t feel we need to pay to opt out,” he says, adding the program was “foisted on” British Columbians. “We — the people who want nothing to do with these radiation meters, that’s the government’s problem — we didn’t opt in. We don’t feel that anyone, any British Columbian, should be penalized for this program, whether people are in or out.”

According to Gordon, if an analog meter must be replaced in the future, such as if it stops working, that customer will be offered a digital meter with the radio turned off.

The Provincial Health Officer, Health Canada and the World Health Organization have confirmed that smart meters pose no known health risk or reason for concern, according to the Ministry release.

Advocacy groups claim the meters emit radiation, increase the likelihood of structure fires and violate privacy rights.

Sixty-thousand meter installations have been delayed in B.C. due to customer request. About 96 per cent of BC Hydro customers now have smart meters provincially. In the Comox Valley region that number sits at about 93 per cent.

BC Hydro will offer an enrolment period from Sept. 1 to Dec. 1 for those holding out to make their decision. The installations are expected to be complete by Mar. 1 next year.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

Just Posted

A Saanich man received almost 10 years in Supreme Court in Courtenay for a shooting incident from 2018. Record file photo
Shooting incident north of Courtenay nets almost 10-year sentence

Richard Daniel Vigneault was arrested without incident and faced 16 counts

Danielle Egilson has been awarded a $40,000 post-secondary scholarship with The Cmolik Foundation. Photo supplied
Student from Courtenay’s Vanier Secondary lands prestigious scholarship

Cmolik Foundation provides opportunities for youth who’ve experienced adversity

Poverty is a sad reality for some people in the Comox Valley. Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Project takes a hard look at poverty in the Comox Valley

Objective is to reduce poverty in the Comox Valley by 25 per cent over four years

Dr. Aref Tabarsi, a general pathologist at the North Island Hospital Campbell River Hospital Medical Laboratory, spoke about the issue of service in the region at a meeting in February 2020. Black Press file photo
Comox Strathcona hospital board wants pathology service back

Board supports move for chair, vice-chair to engage with Island Health on issue

Comox town hall. Black Press file photo
Comox approves 2021 tax rates

Homeowners can expect a 4.95 per cent in their residential tax rates this year

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
MISSING: Salt Spring RCMP find woman’s car, still seek Island resident

Sinikka Gay Elliott is 5’3” with a slim build and dark brown short hair

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Most Read