Smart meters come to Comox Valley

When Margaret Davies arrived home Wednesday, a Corix employee was about to replace her hydro meter with a smart meter.

MARGARET DAVIES shows off the brand new smart meter installed Wednesday at her 23rd Street home in Courtenay.

MARGARET DAVIES shows off the brand new smart meter installed Wednesday at her 23rd Street home in Courtenay.

When Margaret Davies arrived home Wednesday, a Corix employee was about to replace her hydro meter with a smart meter on the wall of her garage.The Courtenay resident, who had received an advance notice from BC Hydro, said the installation was completed in a matter of minutes.Davies does not speak favourably or negatively about the devices, which have caused a great deal of controversy throughout the province.”I really don’t know what to think about the whole thing,” she said. “On the one hand they’re saying it’s good and then some people are saying it’s awful. How do you know, really?”You talk about supposedly bad vibes off of these things. Well, look at all the electronic stuff these days. What about that? “I guess you could say I really have no opinion. I would love something that would cut my hydro bills but that ain’t gonna’ do it, I don’t think … I knew it (smart meter) was coming sooner or later.”According to BC Hydro, smart meters create a more efficient power system and will save money in the long term through reduced loss and reduced theft of electricity. Due to rate changes, the amount on bills will be higher than for the same month a year ago.If comparing a recent bill to an older one, customers need to look at electricity consumption, which is reported in kilowatt hours, not the dollar amount of the bill. Bills may be larger than expected because they cover a longer period of time, the company said.While some B.C. municipal councils are calling for a moratorium on mandatory meter installation, BC Hydro spokesperson Ted Olynyk notes some municipalities have supported the smart meter program. “And conversely, if someone in that community that has voted in favor of the program has requested a delay in installation, we would honour that,” he said. “The relationship BC Hydro has is with each individual customer, not with a strata council, a neighbourhood, a community or a municipality.”He said smart meters meet local and national standards, and criteria outlined by the privacy commissioner.”The only information being transmitted is the fact of what you’re consuming,” Olynyk said. “In fact, if privacy is a concern there’s one less person on your property coming to read your meter.”There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” he added. “We certainly have to do a better job of letting people know what the facts are surrounding this. There really is nothing for people to be concerned about with smart meters. It’s a Wi-Fi device. There’s Wi-Fi in front of regional hospitals, there’s Wi-Fi at public libraries and recreation centres. That Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi in your neighbourhood, is on 24/7. This is on less than a minute a day.”Olynyk said four minutes in a coffee shop with Wi-Fi equals one year exposure to a smart meter — if a person is standing next to the meter for a year. A 30-minute cell phone call, he added, equals 20 years exposure to a smart meter.He said there is no truth to the rumour that BC Hydro will turn off power to a house if a No Meter sign remains in place on a second visit from a Corix employee.He notes there have been instances where Corix installers have been threatened and chased from properties. The company asks residents to show restraint and let Corix workers do their job.”If they don’t want a meter, it’s respected, they have a sign up there,” Olynyk said.He notes time-of-use rates — as stated by the minister responsible for BC Hydro — are not on the radar.For more information, check www.bchydro.com.reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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