Vancouver city council has joined a growing chorus of local
municipalities asking BC Hydro to allow electricity users to
opt out of having smart meters installed in their homes.
But it also said Hydro should continue to research
alternatives for real-time measurement of energy
consumption, and asked it to beef up it security to protect
individual household privacy.
In modifying and adopting a motion by Coun. Adriane Carr,
the lone Green councillor supporting the continued voluntary
use of conventional analogue meters, Vancouver council
joined nearly 40 other B.C. municipalities in trying to
pressure Hydro to amend its $930-million wireless meter
The Union of B.C. Municipalities has also raised questions
about the need for a "smart
grid." Last year politicians at the UBCM convention
suggested Hydro may use the meters as the first step toward
bringing in "time of use" rates that offer cheaper rates in
non-peak hours but dramatically raise rates in peak evening
Vancouver council's motion is not likely to knock Hydro off
its task of installing 1.9 million of the wireless meters by
the end of the year.
Cindy Verschoor, Hydro's communications manager for the
smart meter program, did not want to say that BC Hydro's
authority trumps that of municipal governments, but she made
it clear the installation program will continue.
"The grid is actually provincial infrastructure under
provincial jurisdiction," Verschoor said. "Our
responsibility under several pieces of legislation is to
deliver power responsibly, safely and reliably to our
customers, and this program is necessary to that."
She said it would be impractical and defeat the purpose of
the grid modernization program to allow conventional meters
that have to be read by people onto a system where
information is collected wirelessly.
Council listened to nearly two dozen people who railed
against Hydro's plan to install meters in homes and
businesses. Many opposed them because they emit radio waves.
Others said Hydro's grid can be hacked, allowing the loss of
personal information. A few even suggested the meters are
part of a nefarious plan by the Central Intelligence Agency
and other intelligence agencies to allow it to spy on
homeowners or control power supplies for political
At the most personal level, several speakers told council
they fear direct consequences to their health.
"I am one of those unfortunate people who is sensitive to
wireless technology," said Andrea Collins, whose apartment
is above a vault that will hold 27 wireless meters.
"Everybody in my building is incredibly stressed."
Others, like Lisa Schwabe, objected to having the meter
forced on her, regardless of her concerns. "I feel smart
meters make me feel like I am living in a dictatorship," she
Farren Lander, who runs a "healthy homes" environmental
consulting company, told council there are many
peer-reviewed studies that show increasing amounts of
electromagnetic radiation can affect peoples' health.
But Fiona Taylor, Hydro's deputy project officer for the
smart metering program said there's no evidence wireless
meters are a health hazard. The company also has redundant
security systems to guard against hacking.
Verschoor said Hydro has installed nearly 1.1 million meters
so far and will have the rest installed by the end of the
People who refuse to have the meters are being left to the
last as the company continues its rollout, but will
eventually have to have the devices. She said Hydro is
willing to put the meters wherever homeowners want them, but
at their own cost.
The city motion also calls for Hydro treat fairly any
employees whose jobs are affected by the smart meter
for 3 months, absolutely
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