B.C. backs down on wireless smart meters
Customers will be able to pay extra for meters without wireless technology, says minister
The B.C. government won't force people to get a wireless BC Hydro smart meter if they don't want one, but they are likely going to pay an extra fee for the opting out of the system.
Energy Minister Bill Bennett says the details are still being ironed out, but it is clear someone will have to pay the extra cost and it won't be those who have agreed to have the wireless meters installed.
"The 96 per cent of B.C. ratepayers who have taken the smart meters should not pay the additional expense of the four per cent who don't want one," said Bennett.
The details are still being ironed out but the extra costs would likely have to cover having the wireless component removed and employing meter readers to the non-wireless devices.
According to the government there are about 60,000 household that have yet to have smart meters installed.
Opponents concerned about health
The $1 billion plan to install 1.8 million smart meters across B.C. has met with opposition for several reasons, including the cost of the program, concerns about privacy and hacking of the systems, and possible health effects of the wireless technology.
Originally BC Hydro said all customers will have to have the meters installed because the system won't work if people opt out. Then, in January, BC Hydro said it would not install smart meters without the permission of residents.
But some customers complained it was still happening anyway and in April opponents of smart meters announced they were preparing a class action lawsuit against BC Hydro, alleging installation of the high-tech devices has led to thousands of health, safety and privacy concerns over the last two years.