– Dec 16, 2016 / 5:00 am

As the temperature continues to drop into negative double digits, several people in the Okanagan and Kootenays are without electricity in their homes, after refusing smart meters.

While FortisBC wouldn’t provide an exact number, the utility company says “fewer than 10” electricity customers have had their power turned off, rather than allow the company to install smart meters.

Amy Bunton, communications advisor with FortisBC, says Fortis is the only on-the-grid electricity option for those people.

Over 99.9 per cent of households in Kelowna have been converted to smart meters. Fortis says the smart meters allow for more accurate readings, a better response during outages and will help lower the cost of electricity.

“The advanced meter project enabled us to modernize the electricity grid and help lower the cost of providing service to our customers by preventing millions of dollars in electricity theft and allowing for wireless reads,” said Bunton in an email. “Also, advanced meters are the most cost-effective and beneficial way to meet changing federal guidelines.”

Last week, the utility received approval from the BC Utilities Commission to raise its electricity rate by 2.76 per cent – slightly less than the 3.7 per cent increase it was seeking.

FortisBC does not allow customers to keep their old metering system, but offers a “radio-off” smart meter option, that will not wirelessly transmit electricity consumption information.

Customers that choose the radio-off option will be charged a set-up fee of $88, along with an $18 fee every time the meter is manually read.

Send your experiences with FortisBC’s smart meter program to [email protected].