VICTORIA — BC Hydro has been given another year to finish installing smart meters in homes and businesses across the province.

Hydro has installed 93 per cent, or 1.73 million of the devices, but needs more time to complete the work, so the provincial government has extended the deadline for installation from the end of this year to the end of 2013.

The government says Hydro wasn’t able to do all the work before the original deadline because of labour and equipment shortages, plus concerns raised by customers.

Some people have refused to have smart meters installed over worries about the possible danger of high frequency radio waves, which the meters use to wirelessly transmit data to Hydro computers.

Hydro says smart meters will save money, help people conserve power and automatically report power outages, but many people who’ve already had the meters installed say they’ve been billed incorrectly for their power usage.

There was no automatic reporting of outages when a snowstorm hit Metro Vancouver last week, but a Hydro spokeswoman said that won’t happen until the entire smart meter network is up and running.

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