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Vancouver Council Takes Stand Against Smart Meters

 

Smart Meters Radiation Danger

Smart Meters Radiation Protection

May 2, 2012

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 program. 

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 hours. 

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 purposes. 

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 said. 

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 year. 

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 program.

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