2017-11-24 Time to tell Attorney General how Direction No. 4 (smeter opt out) has affected you.

[Analogs – BCUC – Bills – Carol Hall Letters to David Eby, Michelle Mungall, Scott Fraser to Rescind Direction No. 4 (Arbitrary Discriminatory Law) – Clean Energy Act – Corix – Democracy – Disconnection – EHS / ES Website – Electrical Tariff – EMR – Ferio Pugliese, Hydro One (Pre-paid Meters by Choice) – Health – Independent Assessment of the BC Hydro Smart Meter Program Resolution by Vicki Lightfoot for NDP 2017 Convention – Legal Rights – OEB Ontario Energy Board – Ombudsperson – Permanent, Universal Opt Out – Promises – Smart Grid – Write to MLAs | BC – Ontario]

1)    A member has been in communication with Attorney General David Eby raising a critical point of contention regarding Direction No. 4 [https://www.canlii.org/en/bc/laws/regu/bc-reg-203-2013/latest/bc-reg-203-2013.html] . This was the Order in Council by the former government which laid out the terms for people being allowed to opt out of the smeter program. The stream of her emails to and from Mr. Eby are below and I encourage you to read her most recent one carefully because she has provided some very interesting arguments about the law being arbitrarily discriminatory, having major impacts on many people who did not want or should not have a microwave-emitting device on their home.

(click on photos to enlarge)

There are many 10s of 1,000s of British Columbians who were ineligible to keep their analogs for any extended period, or to qualify for the only opt out provided (as poor as it is), because of this Direction. We all know people who were harassed, threatened, or tricked into accepting a smeter. Many protected their analogs or put bold signs beside them clearly indicating their desire not to have a smeter, only to have Corix sneak in when they were not home or even intimidate homeowners who confronted them, stealing their analogs, and slapping smeters in their place. Many, when they complained about this treatment to BC Hydro, BCUC, their MLA, or even the Ombudsperson were told they had no choice. That Direction No. 4 tied their hands.

Mr. Eby needs to hear these stories. Of course, we all know that the legacy fees, too, are discriminatory – forcing those who cannot afford to pay (these are often the most vulnerable to the effects of the radiation – the sick, the elderly, and the young families) to succumb to BC Hydro’s push to have a smeter on every home.  But Direction No. 4 did not establish the fees; it “only” said that there would be fees. The fees were presented by BC Hydro and approved by the BCUC.

What Mr. Eby needs to hear first and foremost are the stories from people who were excluded from the opt out because of the very limiting stipulations in Direction No. 4. If you or a member of your family have become ill or had a fire because of the smeter, or if you have a health condition that could be affected by the smeter, be sure to tell him this.

Please, take a few minutes to write about your own personal experiences because of this discriminatory law. We need to push Mr. Eby into realizing his responsibility to eliminate it. We should not have to sue against an unjust, unfair law.

Send to:

David Eby, Attorney General <AGWEBFEEDBACK@gov.bc.ca>

Michelle Mungall, Energy Minister <EMPR.Minister@gov.bc.ca>

Premier John Horgan <premier@gov.bc.ca>

Your own MLA – http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/z/bc-contact-e-mail-lists/

and bcc:  Sharon Noble <dsnoble@shaw.ca> so that I can share

We can force changes to this program, one step at a time, if we all work together.

2)    A member found this terrific site about EHS. So much info about the scientific evidence, how to avoid, how it’s diagnosed, etc. And yet many doctors know nothing about it. Perhaps your doctor would take the time to review this website if you printed off the home page and gave him/her the link. We need educated doctors.

Electrosensitivity

Key facts on electrosensitivity (EMFIS, EHS, ES, IEI-EMF, Microwave Sickness, Radiation Sickness)

 

http://www.electrosensitivity.co/home2.html

3)   Ontario’s Hydro One wants to have pre-paid meters that could be used for those with poor records of paying bills. People would pay up front and when the money runs out, the power could be shut off remotely. Of course, Hydro One is selling this as a “choice”. Perhaps a choice to have power or not. If someone has a poor credit record, if he “chooses” to have power, he will have to pre-pay.  If Ontario does it, BC Hydro no doubt will be wanting to do this, too.

Hydro One asks for rate increases, pre-paid meters in Ontario Energy Board application

The application says the pre-paid meters would minimize Hydro One’s financial risk by requiring customers to pay for energy before using it — in particular for customers who are deemed to be a high collection risk.

But Hydro One’s executive vice-president of customer care and corporate affairs says it would not be used as a collection tool.

Ferio Pugliese says if the OEB allows Hydro One to move forward with pre-paid meters, they would be offered to customers as a choice and wouldn’t be forced upon anyone.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/hydro-one-meters-1.4416907

Letters:

Please read from the bottom up.

From: Carol Hall   (name given with permission)
Sent: November 23, 2017
To: JAG WEBFEEDBACK JAG:EX <AGWEBFEEDBACK@gov.bc.ca>
Cc: Michelle Mungall <empr.minister@gov.bc.ca>; John Horgan <premier@gov.bc.ca>; Scott Fraser <scott.fraser.mla@leg.bc.ca>

Subject: Re: AG File No. 438631

Dear Attorney General Eby,

Thank you very much for responding personally to my concerns about BC Hydro’s smart meter program and the lack of a genuine, universal opt-out. It is a refreshing difference from canned responses – or no responses at all – from elected officials, and partially restores my faith that the present government will differ from the previous government not just in listening to citizens’ concerns, but in actually acting on them.

I am aware that under Part 1, Section 3 of the Utilities Commission Act, the BCUC is bound by any direction ordered by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Thus, even a direction as anti-democratic as Direction No. 4 to the British Columbia Utilities Commission (B.C. Reg. 203/2013, deposited September 25, 2013) [https://www.canlii.org/en/bc/laws/regu/bc-reg-203-2013/latest/bc-reg-203-2013.html] which orders the BCUC to emasculate itself by refraining from exercising any regulatory oversight of the Meter Choices Program, is technically legal, however badly it may reek. The same goes for the previous government’s actions in exempting the entire Smart Meters and Smart Grid Regulation (B.C. Reg. 368/2010) from legitimate oversight by the BCUC. Again, that action was technically legal, but it reeks to high heaven of a hidden-agenda bypass of the normal and necessary regulatory channels that make a democracy function.

I have no legal background, but I do know one thing very well: in a democracy, the law applies equally to everyone. Any law that does not apply equally is not legitimate and should be rescinded. Direction No. 4 definitely does not apply equally to all the people affected by it, as can be seen in Section 4, reproduced here. (Emphasis added.)

4 (1)  The commission must not exercise a power under the Act in a way that would directly or indirectly prevent the authority from installing, operating or providing services in respect of legacy meters, smart meters and radio-off meters.

(2)  The commission must not require the authority to install a legacy meter or radio-off meter for

(a) a non-residential customer, or

(b) an applicable customer, if a smart meter is installed at the applicable premises of the applicable customer on or after the date this direction comes into force.

(3)  Without limiting subsection (1) of this section, the commission must refrain from exercising its power under section 45 (5) of the Act to the extent to which the section is applicable with respect to the installation and operation of legacy meters, smart meters and radio-off meters.

Let us suppose it’s 2013 and there are two neighbors, both of whom have given BC Hydro verbal and written notice of their reasons for refusing a smart meter. On September 25, 2013, Neighbor A still has his analog meter – perhaps because he has a fence and a locked gate, or could keep an eye on his meter every day because he is retired, or simply because he was lucky enough to be farther down BC Hydro’s long list of installations. Neighbor A is allowed to keep his analog meter until its seal expires – up to seven more years if he’s very lucky on the expiration date, which he has no control over; one or two years if he’s not – as long as he pays $32.40 per month ($64.80 per bi-monthly manual reading). After the seal expires, if no replacement analog meters are available, Neighbor A is eligible for a radio-off smart meter indefinitely – as long as he pays $20 per month (FortisBC charges $9) or $40 per reading. If he moves house, he is allowed to have a radio-off meter at the new house.

Meanwhile neighbor B, who does not have a fence or locked gate, has to go to work every day, leaving his analog meter unprotected. On or about September 20, 2013, BC Hydro arrives while he is at work, rips off the notice posted beside his meter stating that he refuses to accept a smart meter, and installs one anyway. Neighbor B is now stuck with it forever. He cannot ever, under any circumstances, get an analog meter back and he will never be eligible for a radio-off smart meter. Not even if he is diagnosed with electro-sensitivity by a health practitioner.

Neighbor B will simply have to suffer physically from the pulsed microwave radiation emitted 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by his unwanted wireless smart meter. His symptoms can’t even be alleviated by moving house, since Direction No. 4 stipulates that unless a new occupant is already eligible for a radio-off meter, he or she must have a wireless smart meter at the new premises, even if the previous occupant had an analog or radio-off meter.

How is this law fair? Since when is a totally arbitrary date a valid reason for a law to deny some people – in this case, the majority of British Columbians – the very benefits it establishes for other people? Whether or not a person already had a smart meter installed on September 25, 2013 is strictly a matter of chance, yet this is the basis on which a person is allowed or not allowed to keep an analog meter, or to be eligible or ineligible for a radio-off meter. Many British Columbians have tried to get help from the BCUC or the Ombudsperson for specific cases of such discrimination, all to no avail: Direction No. 4 is the law of the land and their hands are tied.

I fully understand that your office cannot give legal advice to individuals, and I appreciate the information you provided on sources of legal help available to those of limited means. But I find it ludicrous that it is up to a private citizen to bring a costly, time-consuming suit against a government – a government whose very purpose is to ensure that all its citizens are treated fairly and equally under the law – to get rid of an unjust law that discriminates on an arbitrary basis.

Direction No. 4 (included in its entirety as an attachment) was never voted on by the BC Legislature, or even debated on the floor. It was simply written by BC Hydro and decreed by the government of the day, under the fig leaf of an order by the Lieutenant Governor. All it would take from the present government is another Direction, also under the order of the Lieutenant Governor. This new Direction should rescind Direction No. 4 and subject the whole Smart Meters and Smart Grid program to review by the BCUC, including a specific direction to the BCUC to design a genuine, universal smart meter opt-out program with analog meters as the standard opt-out. This is exactly what should have been done in the first place, and would have been done by any government worthy of the power entrusted to it by its electorate.

Having a universal smart meter opt-out designed by the BCUC was a promise of the NDP in its 2013 campaign. Now that the NDP forms the government, and has announced its intention to subject BC Hydro to a thorough year-long review, it is high time to honour that promise.

Sincerely,
Carol W. Hall

= = =

From: “JAG WEBFEEDBACK JAG:EX” <AGWEBFEEDBACK@gov.bc.ca>
To: Carol Hall
Cc: “Michelle Mungall” <EMPR.Minister@gov.bc.ca>
Sent: Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Subject: AG File No. 438631

Dear Ms. Hall:

Thank you for your letter of October 2, 2017 and enclosure, as well as your email of October 24, 2017, regarding the smart meter opt-out program.

I note your concerns regarding the smart meter opt-out program.  The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources is responsible for the smart meter program.  Therefore, I am referring a copy of your correspondence to the Honourable Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, for her consideration.

If you believe that the current program breaches any legal rights, you may wish to seek independent legal advice.  My role as Attorney General does not extend to providing legal advice to members of the public.  However, a number of groups in this province provide free legal services and information under certain circumstances.

Although this ministry does not endorse or confirm the accuracy or completeness of information or advice provided by any of the following resources, I understand that the following resources are currently available to British Columbians.

Access Pro Bono Society of British Columbia
300 – 845 Cambie Street
Vancouver BC V6B 4Z9
Telephone: 604-878-7400
Toll-free telephone in BC: 1-877-762-6664
Facsimile: 604-893-8934
Email:  help@accessprobono.ca
Website:  www.accessprobono.ca

Clicklaw:  www.clicklaw.bc.ca

The Law Centre
Suite 225 – 850 Burdett Avenue
Victoria BC  V8W 0C7
Telephone:  250-385-1221
Facsimile:  250-385-1226

Website:  http://thelawcentre.ca

UBC Law Students’ Legal Advice Program
University of British Columbia
Faculty of Law – Room 158
1822 East Mall
Vancouver BC V6T 1Z1
Telephone: 604-822-5791
[LSLAP – https://www.clicklaw.bc.ca/organization/solveproblems/1010]

For those who are unable to find free legal advice, the following service can refer individuals to a lawyer in their area who will meet with them for up to 30 minutes for a fee of $25 plus applicable taxes.

Lawyer Referral Service
Telephone: 604-687-3221
Toll-free telephone in BC: 1-800-663-1919
Website:  www.cbabc.org/For-the-Public/Lawyer-Referral-Service

I appreciate your taking the time to write.

Yours truly,
Original signed by:
David Eby, QC
Attorney General

pc: The Honourable Michelle Mungall

= = =

From: Carol Hall
Sent: Tuesday, October 24, 2017
To: Minister, AG AG:EX

Subject: Resolution on smart meters at BC NDP Convention

Dear Minister Eby,

One month ago, I emailed you a letter (included as an attachment for your convenience) detailing the need for the NDP government to create a genuine, permanent, universal opt-out from the BC Hydro Smart Meter Program, with mechanical analog meters as the standard opt-out choice. Although I followed up my email with a signed hard copy sent by Canada Post, I have not yet had a response from you or your office. This is disappointing, but I am heartened to see that there is a resolution on creating an Independent Assessment of the BC Hydro Smart Meter Program scheduled for the BC NDP Convention Nov. 3-5. This is the wording:

Because the BC Hydro Smart Meter Program cost consumers over 1 billion dollars, (with a meter amortization period of 20 years which is proving to be more like 5 – 7 years), and was never scrutinized by the BC Utility Commission on the economic impact to consumers;

Because the BC Hydro Smart Meter program cost on a per meter basis, is the most expensive in North America, often more than double the cost;

Because BC Hydro customers who have chosen to opt-out of the program, are paying three times the amount of other utilities (BC Hydro charges $35/month, Fortis charges $9.00/month;

Because jurisdictions throughout North America, including Saskatchewan, have had to recall smart meters due to manufacturing flaws and the same flaws are being reported in BC with no apparent concern by BC Hydro;

Because the BC Union of Municipalities voted against the smart meter program in their communities and were ignored;

The BC NDP will, as Government, create an independent review, through the BCUC or other body, to evaluate the true costs to BC Hydro customers of this program and the review will include recommendations, if found necessary, to lessen the burden of this program on consumers.

I fully understand the emphasis placed on the excessive costs of the existing Smart Meter Program, but it would be a horrible mistake if the goal of an independent assessment was merely to reduce costs, leaving smart meters (with or without the transmitter disabled) as the only option for all BC Hydro customers. I cannot overemphasize the fact that BC Hydro’s Meter Choices Program is not and was never designed to be a universal or permanent opt-out. In the first place, only a small proportion of customers was ever deemed eligible to opt out – and then only temporarily – and BC Hydro’s stated goal that every single one of its residential customers will have a smart meter by 2022 is well on its on its way to being met through attrition.

Creating a genuine, fair, permanent, universal opt-out – one available to all customers upon request, with mechanical analog meters as the standard opt-out choice – will necessitate rescinding Direction No. 4 to the BCUC (dated September 25, 2013) [https://www.canlii.org/en/bc/laws/regu/bc-reg-203-2013/latest/bc-reg-203-2013.html] as well as making changes to the Clean Energy Act, the Electrical Tariff, and all other similar legislation. These things are relatively easy to do, but obviously can only be done by the government in power. As Attorney General, I again urge you to show strong leadership on this issue, and to right the wrongs of the previous government by creating a permanent and universal opt-out.

Sincerely,
Carol W. Hall

 

Sharon Noble
Director, Coalition to Stop Smart Meters

“You will observe with concern how long a useful truth may be known, and exist, before it is generally received and acted on.”
~ Ben Franklin

www.facebook.com/Coalitiontostopsmartmeters