Smart meters: ‘It just doesn’t seem to be a good idea’



No smart meters: Local resident Eric Candelaria has concerns about the province’s about the

new smart meters and put up signs telling B.C. Hydro employees to stay off his property.

Photograph by: Larry Wright, BURNABY NOW

Burnaby resident Eric Candelaria wants B.C. Hydro to keep its smart meter off his house.

He has put signs around the meter on his home near Royal Oak Avenue, telling B.C. Hydro employees they do not have permission to be on his property to install the new meter, only to check the current one. He has also sent a letter to B.C. Hydro.

Candelaria says he is opposed to smart meters because of the cost, where the money goes and the technology being used.

“The bottom line is, the way that they’re handling it with no public review and not listening to anybody, it feels a lot like the HST, to be honest,” he said, adding his other concerns include safety, privacy and how billing will be handled.

B.C. Hydro has replaced about 10,000 electromechanical meters in Burnaby with digital smart meters thus far, according to the company.

Candelaria first became aware of the smart meters from articles addressing where the money for the project was going. He grew more concerned when he heard the provincial government and B.C. Hydro were ignoring the Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ vote for a moratorium on the mandatory installations.

Candelaria, who works in the Internet technology sector, said wireless technology is still not as reliable as hard-wired technology, and he questions what the end costs of the smart meter project will be.

The three major cases for smart meter technology – in B.C., Hydro One in Ontario and PG&E in California – all reference the same study in favour of the technology, he said.

Candelaria would like to see a more

transparent review of the project, including assessments of the costs and the technology before the meters are installed, he said.

He’d like to see a legislative committee review whether or not Crown Corporations like B.C. Hydro are doing what they’re supposed to be doing and choosing the best solutions, and whether they’re using appropriate tendering processes, and doing their research, he said.

“It doesn’t feel like anyone’s answering important questions like why they’re doing wireless (meters) instead of wired ones, when the places they’ve installed wireless ones have had issues,” Candelaria added.

B.C. Hydro plans to install smart meters in 1.8 million homes and businesses across the province by Dec. 12. The cost for the project is estimated at $930 million, according to the company. But Candelaria is also concerned that price will increase, at a cost to residents.

Cindy Verschoor, manager of communications for the Smart Metering program, said the meters are a necessary upgrade for the power grid in B.C., which was built in the ’50s.

The wireless technology is best for B.C., considering the challenging topogra-phy of the province and the remote locations of many residents, she said.

The upgrades will help B.C. Hydro better manage and stop energy loss, Verschoor said.

“This program will save enough electricity on an annual basis to power about 74,000 homes,” she said.

She also addressed concerns about the potential health effects of radio fre-quencies from smart meters attached to homes.

“We’re absolutely convinced the smart meters are safe,” Verschoor said, adding health authorities in the province were consulted about the issue, and wired technology emits a stronger radio frequency.

In regards to people like Candelaria, who refuse to allow B.C. Hydro access to their homes, Verschoor said B.C. Hydro would like to speak with them and address their concerns, and during that process the smart meter installation on their home would be put on hold.

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