Pros and Cons weighed for smart meters in the Hazeltons

The great Smart Meter debate continues as BC Hydro installs the new meters in the coming weeks.

The great Smart Meter debate continues regionally and nationally as BC Hydro notifies residents that technicians will be by to install the new meters in the coming weeks.

BC Hydro said that the new meters will “help detect outages faster and help you monitor and cut your power use.”

They say that the implementation of the meters and supporting infrastructure is to encourage energy conservation at home and at work and they have been doing a lot of publicity programs,  “educating and making customers aware about he electricity use,”  as well as stating it is how they can “keep rates lower.”

Some area residents told the Three Rivers Report they are unhappy with the new program, with one even expressing outrage that hydro costs have increased 33 per cent in the past five years.

BC Hydro, meanwhile, is promising that there will be no increase to power costs related to the smart meters installation.

In July last year Fiona Taylor, the deputy project officer for the smart meter program, told the Prince George Free Press that “installing the meters is the major first step in BC Hydro’s overall initiative to modernize the grid and provide safe, reliable cost-effective electricity to customers. It will be a slow, measured, steady roll-out,” she said.

She also explained to the media at that time, “that we live in a society where technology is constantly being modernized. Electricity needs to support that modernization, however the infrastructure is currently 50 years old. Utilities around the world are dealing with this,” she said.

Taylor was touring Northern communities in the past few weeks to provide information sessions on the new meters.

BC Hydro has said that they are anticipating a “40 per cent increase in demand over the next 20 years,” which means they are faced with the challenge to meet that demand “while mastering the geography of BC which includes sparsely populated areas and miles of mountains and forests.”

The biggest asset to consumers and residents aside from the ability to monitor and assess their own power usage is the fact that they will no longer have to wait for the company to locate the source of the power outages which are quite common in the north.  Without the new Smart Meters, BC Hydro has no way of knowing there is an outage until a customer calls to notify them. They then send a crew out that has to drive around looking for what may have potentially caused the outage. This will help reduce BC Hydro’s carbon footprint they say by reducing the number of trucks sent out and the hours spent driving around as they will now be able to pinpoint the exact line that is involved as well as locate other problems quickly instead of having to make several trips to a community area.

Another huge asset of BC Hydro though is the new meters will cut down on those who try to steal power. They state that the company loses a lot of power to criminals to the tune of approximately $100 million a year which they say is then paid by all consumers. That’s not to mention the safety issues power theft causes.

However, there is another side to the Smart Meter installation and that side is what is raising concerns amongst residents.

While BC Hydro assures that the meters are completely safe and comply with all current standards and regulations, there is a counter-campaign that believes otherwise.

Some medical researchers in the media have said there are health concern because of the exposure to microwaves and radiowaves from the meters is continuous and involuntary. BC Hydro has responded to those concerns saying their meters are not emitting a constant radiowave.

For those residents in Hazelton, some people are asking for the installation to be put on hold until they can research more. Once a BC Hydro customer starts to question the meters and program, they will be contacted by a team that is designated to answering questions and alleviating concerns.

Residents such as Cheryl Mickolayczyk consider making informed decisions is extremely important.

“You can’t believe what the corporations are telling you and people need to know they have a choice,” she said. “Even if there is already a new Smart Meter installed on your house, you can ask them to remove it.”

For more information on BC Hydro’s guidelines and information on all the above either visit their website our call and ask to speak to a Smart Meter representative.