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Smart meters not BC Hydro’s smartest move

The $1 billion smart meter program was ultimately decided on by the Liberal government. Mandated through legislation, 1.8 million meters are going to be switched to the new system by the end of the year and there is nothing that can be done to stop it – it’s the law. But this decision made with insider lobbying and little consultation, while millions of tax payer dollars were spent on ad campaigns to try and convince the public that the meters will be good for them.

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By Joe Johnson (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: February 22, 2012

Everybody’s favourite crown corporation, BC Hydro, is up to no good. By now you’ve most likely heard about their antagonistic implementation of the so-called “smart meters.” These modern-day versions of the energy-usage readers attach to each home. They sure sound like a nice idea — the way BC Hydro spins them — but how they are being implemented is beyond absurd.

The $1 billion smart meter program was ultimately decided on by the Liberal government. Mandated through legislation, 1.8 million meters are going to be switched to the new system by the end of the year and there is nothing that can be done to stop it – it’s the law. But this decision made with insider lobbying and little consultation, while millions of tax payer dollars were spent on ad campaigns to try and convince the public that the meters will be good for them.

And you know what, maybe they will be. One main advantage is that they will be hooked into a network, allowing power outages to be tracked immediately. Most certainly that would result in power being restored faster.

BC Hydro also states that the meters will save $70 million in the next three years alone. It’s not clear how that would be used, but equates to just under $13 per meter savings each year. And over the next 20 years, $1.6 billion will be saved.

BC Hydro also aims to stomp out some social problems. Grow-ops are a big concern and major leeches off the power grid. The cost due to this stolen power has to be recovered by the rate payer – so being able to instantly pinpoint high usage homes will make it simple enough to investigate, and cut power to grow-ops.

But, with that said, issue can be taken with each point put forth by BC Hydro. Numbers aside (which can be inflated, manipulated, and played with to make any proposal look half-decent) the real issue is that we are being forced to accept a blanket change-over to these new meters.

When the subject of smart meters comes up it’s always a heated, one-sided debate. Given that people will have access to their own power usage stats, BC Hydro has often said that people would be able see savings in their bill if they were switch power usage to off-peak hours. However, peak hours are peak hours for a reason. Is it realistic for people to begin doing their laundry at midnight just to offset the cost? Not likely; people are busy, people have jobs, and so we have schedules that work for us. Maybe a few things can be shifted, but time will have to tell the truth on this one.

Another common voice against the meters is the wireless exposure they bring. It may be negligible, but for some people it’s additional radio frequency radiation that they didn’t ask for. Sure, their home may already have wireless phones, cell phones, and wi-fi routers, but these are devices installed willingly.

These are issues that spring up after the smart meters are in place, but there are also issues with their installation; startlingly, there have been stories emerging of meters locked within buildings which were broken into by a BC Hydro crew in order to make the swap.

Truthfully, the real problem is not in the quibbles over little aspects of the devices, it is in how our government is imposing a massive undertaking without adequate discussion with the public. Discourse is how our society should operate ; government bodies should be open. It shouldn’t be one of dictation and not allowing us to voice opinion and explore ideas which may develop into something that works for all of us.

It’s my opinion that the advantages don’t outweigh the negatives. Although, if BC Hydro can convince you to update your meter, then that’s between you and them and is absolutely fine. But they should not be imposing change onto the people who do not see the benefit. that’s what really gets me. After all, these meters rest on our own private property. It would certainly be nice to see them back off and pursue a different path.

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