Smart meters — one concern and one fact at a time

Dear editor,

“It only takes a few minutes on the computer to learn the facts,” said V. Beaton in the letters column on May 31.

Dear editor,

“It only takes a few minutes on the computer to learn the facts,” said V. Beaton in the letters column on May 31.

So, I decided to spend a few minutes to learn the facts, rather than simply watching a few YouTube videos that went on about the various hazards.

It seems the people protesting the smart meters have three main complaints: They are worried about possible health implications, they think it is a poorly hidden plan by BC Hydro to raise rates, and they view it as a privacy threat. Let’s look at each of these concerns with some facts.

Are smart meters a risk to anyone’s health?

They do produce measurable amounts of non-ionizing radiation. However, so does that large glowing orb we usually see in the sky this time of year.

According to the product website, the meters operate for about 80 seconds a day, at 0.61 mW/cm^2. Now, I have no idea if that’s high or low, but fortunately, a few more minutes on the computer tell me that the sun’s “non-ionizing radiation” output at sea level is 137 mW/cm^2 (or about 200 times more, and we usually see the sun for more than 80 seconds a day — maybe not this year).

Others have pointed out that Wi-Fi as used by the smart meters is “classified as a 2B carcinogen.” Keep in mind that the 2B classification is for *possible* carcinogens. That is, there is limited evidence, but they are still looking into it.

Or to put it another way, there have been some studies showing risk and others none, including a recent long term study in Europe that showed no effect. Still, if you want to err on the side of caution, here are a few other class 2B carcinogens you may want to avoid: coffee, gasoline, pickled vegetables, talcum powder (baby’s not going to be happy), and carpentry.

“The new meters aren’t CSA approved.” It does seem odd, but looking at my existing one, I don’t see a CSA logo on it either.

One final point on the health prospects: do the people fearing these devices not realize that BC Hydro employees (including those who made the decision to put the meters in place) live in B.C., so they will have smart meters on their houses. Would they decide to put dangerous products on their own homes?

What about the possibility of BC Hydro switching to time-of-day billing, or otherwise raising your bill? Well, BC Hydro has repeatedly said that they aren’t looking at time-of-day billing, and even if they were, they would have to go through the utilities commission to implement it.

Is it worthwhile to complain about something that BC Hydro *might* try to do in the future (and as the current round of the utilities commission show, even if they want to raise our rates, the government doesn’t have to let them).

Finally, we come to the privacy concerns.

Certainly it is the most difficult to immediately dismiss. Yes, these meters — by design — will provide more information to BC Hydro.

What kind of information? Well, they’ll be able to tell: “something that is using about 150W just turned on.” They don’t know what just turned on (or off); they just know the power consumption.

I doubt very much if they will have some database around that could identify your refrigerator from your electric hedge trimmer from your TV.

As with the health concerns, I hope those worried about the privacy also never use credit cards, debit cards, or customer loyalty cards, as all of these are more of a privacy concern than the smart meters. Oh, and they’ll probably want to close their Facebook accounts, and stop doing any searching on the Internet as well.

What about the benefits of smart meters?

We have been repeatedly told by BC Hydro and other utilities that the main issue preventing moving towards broader adoption of wind, solar and other renewable resources is the need for a “smarter grid.” Smart meters are a step in that process, so I look forward to BC Hydro taking that step. In addition, they will allow us to better monitor and reduce our power consumption.

In conclusion, are smart meters dangerous? Not likely.

Are they a trojan horse for BC Hydro’s rates? They can’t change their rates on their own, so no.

What about the privacy concerns? Pretty minimal I’d say.

Those spreading the fear about them really should take a few minutes to learn the facts.

Shane Kretky,

Comox

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A rendering of the Denman Green plans for the Kirk Road site. Image, DHA/Ronan Design
Denman Green finds new site for housing

Facing COVID delays, the project reached expiration date on initial site

A fawn stands in a field. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
MARS hoping to build fawn complex for rehab

Their goal is to raise $20,000 in a relatively short period of time.

Aspen Park in Comox is the latest school reporting a COVID-19 exposure. Screenshot, Google Maps
Fifth Comox Valley school reports COVID-19 exposure

Exposure at Aspen Park in Comox was reported for Feb. 22

Cumberland Brewery is looking to expand its patio space temporarily for the summer. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland Brewery looks for temporary patio expansion

Move would allow business to spread customers outside in summer months

School District 71’s final budget for this school year showed more revenue from distance learning students but less from traditional classroom registration. Record file photo
Comox Valley Schools’ budget grant almost $5.5 million higher than planned

Increase came from a boost in distributed learning rather traditional registration

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

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

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Most Read