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COMMENTARY · 20th August 2011
Merv Ritchie
BC Hydro came calling to the Northwest last week to promote the use of the new “Smart Meters”. The media in BC has virtually given this new device a green light. Many, including law enforcement agencies, promote them as a tool to stop the ‘evil’ marihuana grow operations. BC Hydro promotes the meters as a ‘Green’ initiative. All of this is a sad tale of misinformation and misrepresentation.

BC has the highest concentration of media ownership of almost any jurisdiction in the free world. If Global Media and Black Press do not want a subject discussed, it doesn’t get widely discussed. The Smart meters are not safe or green and they are a tool to invade your home and privacy. All across the United States, where this effort began, citizens have been protesting them. An uninformed population is generally a compliant population. It is time someone in the Media brought some of this to the BC public’s attention.

To begin learning about some of the concerns Watch this short video clip.

Smart meters now provide all the details of your personal life. When you brush your teeth, when you are home, when you watch TV, if you run a home based business and much more. Some are even claiming these meters (the software is secret) can determine which brand of appliance is running in your home. All electrical motors and appliances have a unique electro magnetic signature. With these new meters nothing is private and all of it is made available to the USA government and all of their agencies.

The BC government, under Gordon Campbell, broke up BC Hydro into separate sections. The management of the Utility was given to a USA firm (previously the Enron accounting firm of Arthur Andersen), Accenture. This action provides, under US law, all your personal records freely available to the USA government and its various agencies; part of the patriot act. Privacy Commissioner Report on this topic here.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act has proven to be a controversial provision in both the United States and Canada. Canada’s Privacy Commissioner and British Columbia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner have both expressed concerns that section 215 could allow U.S. intelligence agencies to obtain personal information about Canadians from U.S. companies with offices in Canada, or from U.S. companies in the United States who hold personal information of Canadians due to outsourcing contracts.

As for green, BC uses water to turn generators to create electricity. This is why it is called Hydro. BC does not use coal or oil. BC has the greenest electrical power system available.

From the website StopSmartMeters dot Org.

What’s Wrong:

• ‘Smart’ meter radiation is a Class 2B carcinogen according to the World Health Organization (pdf), at least 100x the exposure from a cell phone, say UC Nuclear experts. Equivalent to living within 500 feet of a major cell tower, according to independent EMF expert Cindy Sage. Thousands are reporting adverse health effects yet installations continue as if nothing is wrong.

• “Smart” meters are responsible for a number of structure fires and explosions, including one that burned Santa Rosa Mall in April. The meters are not even UL certified.

• “Smart’ meters violate privacy, recording every detail of your power usage – a permanent search warrant into your home- data that can be shared with law enforcement officials and other corporations.

In February of 2003, BC Hydro and Accenture, signed a 10-year deal in which the newly formed subsidiary of Accenture, Accenture Business Services of British Columbia Limited, took over BC Hydro's customer services, information technology services, network computing services, human resource services, financial systems, purchasing and building and office services.

Read here how Pat Bell and other BC Liberals sold this deal to break up BC Hydro to the public.

Read more on the fight to keep BC Hydro, BC Hydro, Here.

Indepth expose of the potential for corruption by Bill Tielman.

Read Here on the misrepresentation and secrecy on the Site C plans for the Peace River Valley at Taylor BC.

There have been various media news releases over the years regarding this issue, much of which hasn't been covered in any depth.

From the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia

July 28, 2011


British Columbia's Information and Privacy Commissioner is investigating BC Hydro's Smart Metering Program to ensure that it complies with privacy law. Commissioner Elizabeth Denham launched her investigation following receipt of numerous complaints that the information collected by smart meters breaches personal privacy.

BC Hydro has recently started installing smart meters and, by the end of 2012, has plans to install more than 1.8 million throughout BC. Rather than measuring energy use for each billing period, as is currently the case, smart meters provide more frequent information about people's electricity use.

"The privacy and security of energy consumption data is a very real issue for citizens throughout the province," said Commissioner Denham. "With an increase in the frequency of the information collected from smart meters comes an increased responsibility on BC Hydro to ensure that privacy and security is built into the smart grid."

The commissioner will investigate whether BC Hydro's use of smart meters complies with its obligations regarding collection, use, disclosure, retention and security of personal information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

BC Hydro has been consulting with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner on the privacy and security implications of its smart meters program, and has also committed to co-operate fully with the Commissioner's investigation. The commissioner will release a public report when the investigation is complete.

From the BC NDP

October 2010


The B.C. Liberals’ plan to force B.C. Hydro to rush into spending $1 billion to install “smart” hydro meters in every B.C. home by 2012 is a disaster waiting to happen, says New Democrat energy critic John Horgan.

“Recent evidence from Ontario’s smart meter experiment show more than 80 per cent of people are actually paying more, not less, under time-of-use billing using smart meters,” said Horgan. “We are poised to make exactly the same mistakes here in B.C.

“By rushing to finish the project by 2012, we lose the ability to make sure we get it right by learning from the mistakes of other jurisdictions. If this really is a good idea, let’s see best practices put in place with a studied, measured approach.”

More than four million smart meters have been installed across Ontario, allowing for a time-of-use billing scheme to be implemented that is intended to reward users with lower rates for using electricity in off-peak hours. But recent numbers from Toronto Hydro show that 84 per cent of people’s electricity bills have gone up, not down.

“The Ontario experience has shown that smart meters don’t work when it comes to conserving energy and saving money. Instead, they are proving to do just the opposite,” said Horgan, noting the billion-dollar price tag to install the meters in B.C. could be better spent elsewhere.

“Just imagine how much good a billion dollars could do to stimulate the economy and save energy if it was directed to home energy retrofits. Energy efficiency measures like upgrading heating systems, proper insulation, and other home upgrades are a proven way to manage electricity demand.”

Horgan noted that the B.C. Liberals don’t have a business plan that shows how smart meters will be implemented or how they will save electricity, nor is there an independent review process to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

“Now that the B.C. Liberals have exempted all major energy projects from the purview of the B.C. Utilities Commission, all decisions are being made at the whim of the embattled premier with no one but his head-nodding cabinet ministers to question their validity or value,” said Horgan.

“B.C. families will be the ones who have to pay for the B.C. Liberals’ reckless decisions through increasingly higher bills.”

From the BC NDP

February 15, 2009


“We need real measures to conserve energy, not another expensive pet project”

Gordon Campbell should immediately stop forcing BC Hydro to waste almost $1 billion on his so-called ‘smart metering’ pet project, says New Democrat energy critic John Horgan.

Horgan said Campbell’s scheme to force BC Hydro to install new meters in homes throughout B.C. that would show consumers their real time use of electricity is an ill-conceived waste of money that would be better spent on initiatives to help homes become more energy efficient.

“Campbell claims this pet project is about energy conservation, but in reality it’s another idea he wrote on the back of a napkin without thinking it through,” said Horgan. “I think his real agenda is to drive up hydro rates.”

Horgan said the plan is the wrong direction, especially at a time when the government is wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on cost overruns for so many other of the Premier’s pet projects.

“We have seen Gordon Campbell go from one wasteful pet project to another, from the money-gobbling Trade and Convention Centre to privatized power plants to a new roof on B.C. Place,” said Horgan. “This smart metering project is just one more hit on ordinary people.

“There is no business plan, no evidence that energy conservation will result, and no independent process to vet the Liberals’ theories. This project required special, arbitrary legislation that removed the oversight of the BC Utilities Commission and is an expensive attack on the pocketbooks of people who have been repeatedly forced by the Campbell Liberals to pay more and get less” said Horgan.

Horgan noted that the BC Utilities Commission recently rejected a similar proposal proposed by the private electric utility FortisBC, which serves many Interior communities.

The BCUC found in December there is simply no case to support wasting money on smart metering.

“Yet the Campbell government is continuing with its plans to force BC Hydro to do the same thing. Today I’m calling on Gordon Campbell to respect the taxpayers, respect the BCUC, and immediately drop its plans to proceed with another wasteful pet project.

“If we have a billion dollars to spend on energy conservation, it shouldn’t be used for gimmicks. It would be better spent on providing hydro ratepayers with affordable options for energy efficiency such as the home retrofit options proposed by Carole James and the New Democrats.”
Highly misleading chart, which was presented as fact by many media outlets.   Why do we allow an ‘independent’ health study to be hijacked by industry?  Never to compare different units of measurement
Highly misleading chart, which was presented as fact by many media outlets. Why do we allow an ‘independent’ health study to be hijacked by industry? Never to compare different units of measurement
corrected to represent cumulative, whole body exposure.  When the chart is corrected to reflect the same units of measurement
corrected to represent cumulative, whole body exposure. When the chart is corrected to reflect the same units of measurement
Unreadable graph
Comment by Jason da Costa on 3rd October 2011
The graphs here are not exactly reliable as they do not say at all what they are measuring. Yes, 40 is a high number compared to .25, but that is all the graph is saying. It does not say what the numbers actually mean. Is it measuring Watts, Milliwatts, or something else? It just does not say and needs to be amended so the graph can actually be understood
Not so Smart Meters
Comment by Sheldon Davidson on 5th September 2011
Something that has been completely overlooked in this discussion is the security of the smart meters.

I encourage everyone to look at this presentation on the new "smart grid". It does a very good job at breaking down how smart meters work.


Once you understand how the smart grid will work you will ask yourself what idiot thought it would be a good idea to implement it.

We are now left wide open for an attack on our power grid.

Say NO to Hydro's Smart Meters
Comment by Brooke on 22nd August 2011
Two things concern me. The smart meters themselves pose a health risk but it's the government approved invasion of privacy that is most disturbing of all.

Canada feels more like a police state every day. We should indeed be fighting back and refusing to co-operate with yet one more bullying tactic by our government and the powerful corporations that really run it.
I wonder if...
Comment by Johnny Gunn on 21st August 2011
I bet the mining industry benefactors of the NorthWest Transmission line out to Bob Quinn won't have a two tiered power rate!

When are people going to start pushing back against this plutocracy?
losses by BC Hydro???
Comment by Tr on 21st August 2011
Funny how right now they claim they are about to run in a deficit for the firs time ever...maybe it is bacause paying for 1.8 million smart meters is going to cut into profits...that and the fact that they send so much to the US. Shortage my butt!

By the way: I still have the pamphlet that said with the new two tiered system, if my usage was over 1200 only then would it go up, then they changed it to mean over a two month period instead of one month it had always been....sneaky!!!
concerned customer
Comment by dl on 20th August 2011
If placement of the smart meter is refused can BC Hydro play hardball and threaten to disconnect your hydro service?
another outrage
Comment by blocky bear on 20th August 2011
Our personal bill for hydro has been escalating steadily for the past five years. The latest biggest hike with the so called step system, has increased the monthly averaging 40% over the time. Now a billion dollars to implement the new smart meter program you say? I think we all know who will be paying. If this also a radiation hazard....the bile sticks in my throat. Not to mention the guy who reads our meter and will likely lose his job is my friend. d.b.