The installation of the ‘smart meter’ has begun in B.C. and will carry on through till the end of 2012 when every home should be fitted with the new wireless device.
Smart meters are digital meters that can capture and record the amount of power that is consumed or produced and when. The new meters are being installed as part of a BC Hydro power upgrade to a more modernized grid.
BC Hydro began installing smart meters in town a couple of weeks ago but a number of residents are refusing to have them changed.
Rick Klassen of Vanderview Drive says he has been researching the smart meters for about a year now and he does not believe they are safe.
He first gained an interest in the smart meters when he came across some information on a website about people in California associating a number of health issues with smart meters that were installed there four or five years ago.
“And then I heard that BC Hydro was going to put them into all the homes here in B.C. so I did some more digging and research and that’s when I discovered all about the health issues and the privacy issues associated with these meters,” said Klassen.
Since the installation started in town last month, Klassen has been going from door to door with information pamphlets about the meters and letting people know that they can refuse to allow BC Hydro onto their property.
“Ninety-nine per cent of the people agree with me and probably 80 per cent haven’t heard much about the smart meters – a lot of them don’t even know they are in town yet and about a third of town has had them installed already,” said Klassen.
He added that BC Hydro hasn’t been to their house yet but when they do they have printed off cease and desist orders and stuck them on the meter and the front door as well as erecting a number of signs in their front yard.
“Well we have notices up on our front door and by our meter – we have a cease and desist order, saying we do not consent to this – for one thing it’s illegal to install a wireless surveillance device on your home without your written consent,” said Klassen.
“This is a quiet community … “I’d like to see it stop, I’d like to see them get out of town. I don’t need anymore evidence – I know they are not safe, I know that, I’ve done enough research,” he said.
Another concerned resident says he has been informing the seniors in town about the issues with the smart meter.
“I was at a meeting with the seniors at Knight Creek – we had a little luncheon with John Rustad and he gave us some information about the meters but he is totally not aware of what’s going on,” said resident Gerry Woode.
“He thinks that these meters are fine – I want to get the word out about these smart meters and we’re not going to let this rest – I want everyone in the community to know what these smart meters are – I have spoken with all the seniors at the Friendship Centre,” Woode added.
At the last regular council meeting on August 17, Vanderhoof mayor Gerry Thiessen said he has had a huge number of people dropping by his office the week prior to complain about the meters. Councillor Darren Carpenter added that BC Hydro had been round to his house but he refused to let them change the meter.
The B.C. Green Party has publicly spoken out against the meters. Party leader Jane Sterk said during a press conference at the end of July that the World Health Organization has cited electromagnetic radiation as a possible carcinogen, and that the meters will expose people to this.
The provincial government also announced earlier in the month that B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner is investigating the smart metering program to ensure that it complies with privacy law. The investigation came about after numerous complaints that the information collected by smart meters breaches personal privacy.
A BC Hydro representative could not be reached for comment by press time, however an information sheet about Smart Meters states that:
“Safety is our top priority for BC Hydro and is an important focus of the Smart Metering Program. After decades of research, there are no demonstrable health or environmental effects from exposure to low level radio frequency signals.”
In reaction to fears that the meters breach privacy laws, Executive Vice-president at BC Hydro, Greg Reimer, released a statement saying that the utility welcomes the review from the privacy commissioner …
“The BC Information and Privacy Commissioner has announced a review of the security and privacy of customer data collection through the smart meter program. We welcome the review as we hope it will help ease any customer concerns about the program,” the statement said.