Smart meters could triple hydro rates

July 27, 2011

Dear Mayor, Council, and Editor:

Smart meters have been installed in several U.S. states and in Ontario, and we should be benefiting from their experiences. Many serious problems have been reported, regardless of the location or brand of meter. It follows that these same problems will be experienced here in British Columbia if we do not take action to alter BC Hydro’s program plan.

On May 3l this year, the World Health Organization (International Agency for Research on Cancer – IARC) classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF) as a potential carcinogen to humans (Group 2B). This classification places RF EMF in the same category as other potential carcinogens, such as lead, DDT, chlordane, exhaust, chloroform and pesticides. This action has not influenced the BC Government nor BC Hydro to modify their Smart Meter Program here in British Columbia.

The ‘Clean Energy Act’ of May 2010 mandates that BC Hydro replace every meter with a “Smart Meter” by 2012. Section 17 specifies that installation can be done “without the consent of the owner.” There has been no normal process for public input. The Act strips the British Columbia Utilities Commission of the power to review the project, which in the past has been the norm. In that, the World Health Organization classifies RF EMF radiation (Group 2B) as a potential carcinogen, BC’s ‘Clean Energy Act’ imposes a mandatory exposure of a potential carcinogen to the children, women, and men of this Province. Most RF EMF exposures (from cell phones, cordless phones, wireless digital devices) are optional. The imposition of this hazard via an essential service is undemocratic and non-consensual and likely illegal. Every person who has been diagnosed as being electro-hypersensitive has not been given assurance from BC Hydro that they have the option to keep the conventional analog (safe) meters.

There is an abundance of credible scientific and documented evidentiary reports of the negative consequences of Smart Meter radiation. Following is a brief summary of facts on the related issues. I have appended a number of background papers for your information.

1 ) Health. Contrary to what the government reports, the microwave radiation that is emitted is high (as much as 4,000 microwatts per square centimeter, vs. maximum allowed of 600 microwatts per square centimeter) during the signal “spikes” which occurs several times a minute every day, all day. People are being exposed to these high doses of microwave radiation within their homes from their own meters, and from their neighbours’ meters, which are signaling to distance receivers.

In late 2010, Canadian Magda Havas, PhD, an electrosmog and electro-sensitivity expert, published results of a groundbreaking study in the prestigious peer-reviewed European Journal of Oncology. The study demonstrated that some wireless EMFs can adversely affect heart function, causing arrhythmias and other disturbances in heart rate variation (HRV).

2 ) Privacy. Meters keep records of personal daily use, recording what appliance is being used and when. Companies in the U.S. have declared these records propriety information and have sold it to marketing companies, insurers, and others. This truly is an invasion of privacy in the worst way.

3 ) Security. Wireless technology is notoriously insecure and can be easily hacked into. Hackers can access private information, determine by-usage patterns when homes are unoccupied, or even interfere with the delivery of electricity.

4) Harmful interference. Smart meters interfere with household electrical appliances, even medical devices and home security systems, often causing them to malfunction or damaging the appliance.

5) Safety. Smart meters have exploded and many smart meter-related fires have been reported, most recently a major fire in Santa Rosa, California, where several businesses were severely damaged. The fires are believed related to smart meters interfering with Arc-fault circuit interrupters. Several lawsuits are pending in California.

6 ) Conservation. No energy is conserved by the meter. It merely reports usage, as does an analogue meter. Unless the user is educated on conservation techniques, no reduction in utilization will occur. The smart meter contributes in no way to conservation—this is a false premise. It is the educated user that is key, and the same reduction could be realized with the current safe, efficient analogue meter.

7 ) Increased utility bills. More than 80 per cent of smart-metered homes in Ontario report significantly higher monthly bills, often more than 50 per cent higher than prior to smart meter installation. In California, many report bills doubling and tripling. This is without any change in utilization patterns.

8 ) Program cost. A major concern of most British Columbians is the cost of the program—more than $1 billion. We cannot afford a program which has no benefits and, most likely, no cost recovery potential. Better to spend this money on technology or products that will result in reduced energy utilization, such as better insulation, more efficient windows or furnaces, or solar panels.

According to Bill 23-2008 of the BC Public Health Act, section 83(1), a municipality must take action when it becomes aware of a health hazard or health impediment within its jurisdiction. Several municipalities around British Columbia, New Denver, Lake Cowichan, Salt Spring Island, Colwood, and others have passed motions to request moratoria on the installation of wireless smart meters.

Madam Mayor and Councillors: Clearly, BC Hydro’s Smart Meter Program mandated under the ‘Clean Energy Act’ is within provincial jurisdiction and municipalities have no authority for the program. However, given your ‘Duty of Care’ towards the citizens of our community, I request that you, by way of Council Resolution, petition the Minister of Health and, due to the potential for wireless smart meters to cause harm, request a moratorium on mandatory installation of wireless meters. I further request that you prepare like resolution for submission for the Union of BC Municipalities Conference to be held September 26-30, 2011. The citizens of our fine and caring city will support you.

Walter Vohradsky

Merritt, B.C.