Bennett’s office admits legacy fees are because we won’t accept smeter — they are punishment!!

THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS!! An admission by Bill Bennett’s office that the legacy fees are punishment and not due to additional services being given those with legacy meters and no one else.  Please see letter below. This is so very significant and I think we must push the NDP to take this issue up. Write, call, visit your NDP MLAs, and your liberal ones, too. Numbers do count when it comes to emails, letters and visits from constituents. Please, get writing.  Your MLA info can be found at


From: “MEM EAED Correspondence MEM:EX” <>

Subject: re: BC Hydro’s Legacy Fees ref.#87414

Date: November 7, 2014 12:58:20 PM PST

To: >


Dear M


Honourable Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines, has asked me to respond to your November 2, 2014 email regarding fees under BC Hydro’s Meter Choices Program.


The Meter Choices Program fees are not just meter reading fees.  The fees recover the additional costs of adding and maintaining resources, equipment and systems that have been automated by modern meters.  Asking customers who request customised services to cover these costs is a fair solution because it prevents the additional costs from being passed on to all customers.  The British Columbia Utilities Commission reviewed the fees to make sure they are fair and only recover the additional costs.  A copy of the decision can be found at


More than 99 per cent of BC Hydro customers have smart meters and the vast majority are being read automatically.  As BC Hydro works to complete the communications network that supports the metering system, field staff are manually downloading information from a small number of smart meters that are not communicating automatically yet.  Customers with smart meters are not being charged for this service because they have accepted BC Hydro’s standard equipment.


If you have further questions about BC Hydro fees please contact them directly at or 1 800 409 8199.


Thank you for writing.




Les MacLaren

Assistant Deputy Minister

Electricity and Alternative Energy Division

Ministry of Energy and Mines




Dear Ms. Hamilton,


The BC Utilities Commission Act states that all customers are to be treated fairly and equitably. That all customers should be billed the same rate for the same service.


The Commission has been banned from getting involved with any aspect of the smart meter program EXCEPT FOR RATES. (section 18.2 Clean Energy Act).  In Directive 4, Mr. Bennett ordered you to set rates for those with legacy meters based on costs for additional work/services required.  The assumption was clear that all smart meters were being read remotely. Hydro asked and BCUC granted the highest “legacy” fee in North America, $32.40 per month for 6 annual readings, or in the case for those on an equal payment plan, 1-2 readings.


As admitted by BC Hydro, as of January, 2014, close to 70,000 smart meters were being read manually, and as of September, close to 50,000 were. Because of design problems, ITRON has admitted that its wireless meters cannot function well in dense urban environments because its signals cannot penetrate concrete walls like those in many condos and apartment buildings. Neither can they send signals in some areas where topography prevents access to cell towers. Therefore, for some time many smart meters will continue to be read manually, and no additional fees are being charged for this service.


In the letter below, in response to a request for an explanation for this discrepancy by someone  whose neighbour has a manually-read smart meter,  Mr. MacLaren admits that legacy fees are charged because he did not accept a smart meter – not because of additional costs being incurred.


This admission confirms what we have been charging, that the fees that we are being forced to pay are punitive and cannot be justified according to the UCA.


Ms. Hamilton, the BCUC has the responsibility to safeguard the public, not just the government or BC Hydro. If the BCUC believes that it has no authority at all, or that it can be/has been stripped of all authority over every aspect of the smart meter program, including rates, I would like to be told.  I ask you to consider this charge I am making – that the fees are punitive and unjustified – and demand that BC Hydro stop demanding this payment and return all fees collected.



Sharon Noble

Victoria, BC