Category Archives: BCUC

Are Cell Phones and Tablets Frying Your Kid’s Brains? Why is BC Charging so much for Smart Meters?

(audio 24:01) [Bills – Health] Are Cell Phones and Tablets Frying Your Kid’s Brains? Sharon NobleApril 14, 2017 – The Goddard Report with Jim Goddard by talkdigitalnetwork – YouTube – April 14, 2017:

(Why is BC Charging so much for Smart Meters?
Guest’s website:


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The Goddard Report Video Archives of Interviews with Sharon Noble, Director, Coalition to Stop Smart Meters

re Smart Meters and Health Issues from Wireless Technologies:

Sharon Noble’s Final Argument re. the Tariff changes being made by BC Hydro – October 08, 2016

bc-hydro    bcuc

As you will recall, Sept. 2015 BC Hydro submitted an application to the BCUC ostensibly concerning amended rate structures, and nothing else. I asked directly if there would be anything else that could possibly affect the Coalition members and was told no. I decided to intervene anyway just so I could receive updates. In December, 2015, just before Christmas, a document was sent which showed significant changes to the Electric Tariff that had nothing to do with the rate changes BCH was asking for. When I questioned this, I was told that Hydro can have the Tariff changed whenever they submit an application, and the changes are not limited to items pertaining to the application. This means that whenever there is an application for whatever reason, changes can be made without the public being told or having a chance to respond. I believe this is wrong. There are sections in the Tariff today which are bizarre and worrisome, that were written, sometimes many years ago, without the public knowing.

In Dec. when I tried to intervene with questions, BCUC said I was no longer an intervener. With your help, they kindly reinstated my intervener status. I was able to pose these questions over and over, and each time BC Hydro has responded with non-answers. I don’t know if you recall the presentation of my questions in August at the hearing (by a kind and generous lawyer from the BCPIAC on my behalf). Hydro brushed them off, saying I was asking, to a large degree, for changes in business practices. It is clear that BCH does not want the Tariff to be a “service agreement” or a “contract” but rather a meaningless document that will be interpreted by them to help them when they wish. It sure won’t help us.  Neither will they document their “business practices” either in the Tariff nor on their website. How, for example, are people to know that Hydro has agreed to attempt to notify you before they turn your power off? How are you to know that if you live in colder areas of the province, BCH has a pilot project to keep your power on over the winter? How are you to know that Hydro will operate in a manner that is according to the Tariff, e.g. not try to bill you for their mistakes?

Unfortunately, none of the other groups has raised these concerns. I frankly doubt that the BCUC will support my requests to strengthen the Tariff for BC Hydro’s customers. Once the Tariff is changed it will be hard to get it back – but we must call this process what it is – a charade. If we later complain about something that BCH is doing, they will point to the Tariff and say they have no option, the BCUC has told them it must be done this way, as if BCUC has written the Tariff. We may be forced to submit our own action to address the Tariff before the BCUC.

I submitted the following:

OCTOBER 8, 2016


  1. This is my final argument on behalf of myself and on behalf of the public who depend upon the Tariff to inform and protect them.
  1. This is written in response to BC Hydro’s final argument, Sept. 26, 2016.
  1. This is written in response to BC Hydro’s Undertaking No. 29.
  1. As a private citizen and an individual intervener, since Dec. 2015 I have asked BC Hydro (BCH) questions about the Tariff and the changes being proposed. BCH has responded but has not answered them.
  1. The Electric Tariff is, according to BC Hydro, the service agreement between BC Hydro and its customers. There is just one problem: few customers ever see it, fewer yet read it, and none have the opportunity to negotiate its terms. This is a “take it or leave it” unilateral agreement.

BC Hydro writes the Tariff, determines the terms and conditions, and interprets how they are applied. Even though, technically, the customer can intervene when reviews are done, few know about the process and far fewer participate. And as I’ve experienced, the process is frustrating because not only is it cumbersome, there is no recourse when BC Hydro refuses to answer the questions asked.

  1. BC Hydro refuses to clarify or document in the Tariff or on its website some terms and conditions because they are “business practices.”  Many of these business practices directly impact on customers, who may not be aware that they even exist. As a customer of BC Hydro, it seems to be good business practice to have an informed customer, one who know his rights and his obligations, and who believes he is being treated fairly and transparently. How are customers supposed to know what to expect if practices are hidden – not in the Tariff (the service agreement) or on BC Hydro’s website? How can customers know that they are being treated in the same manner as other customers rather than arbitrarily?
  1. BC Utilities Commission is the arbiter, acting on behalf of BC Hydro’s customers. Therefore, I appeal to the Commission to consider the requests below for clarification, documentation, and consideration.

Relief sought:  Format

  • Initial question asked
  • BC Hydro’s response in its Final Argument:  Part V: Comments on other Issues that have arisen
  •  My response as the intervener’s argument.
  1.   256. Question 1

Would BC Hydro be willing to amend the definition of “radio off meter” to include a sentence that says it is a smart meter adjusted so that the meter’s components that transmit and receive data by radio are deactivated. And if not, why not?

So in other words, to include the word — not only the words “transmit” but also “receive data 311

  1. BCH Response
  1.  BC Hydro assumes that Mr. and Mrs. Noble seek assurance that Radio-Off Meters do not receive data through wireless means. With respect, the definition should reflect the allowed functionality of the Radio-off Meter and should not be an indirect means to limit their use. Regardless, and as a matter of fact, Radio-off Meters do not receive data wirelessly. 312  Finally, BC Hydro notes that under common dictionary definitions the word “transmit” has a broad meaning that encompasses both sending and receiving.

In an earlier response Noble IR 2.4.1, BCH said: “As part of the proposed revisions to the Terms and Conditions included in Exhibit B-1-1, BC Hydro proposed adding “and/or receive data” to the definition of Smart Meter. In Exhibit B-7, and in response to Ms. Noble’s email of January 6, 2016 attached to Exhibit A-9, BC Hydro noted that the proposed change to the definition of Smart Meter is of a minor nature and not necessary.”

Intervener’s  Argument:

I disagree that the proposed change to the definition is minor and unnecessary. Customers who are paying $20 a month for a radio-off meter have been told that the transmitter is entirely disabled and it will neither send nor receive data. I believe it is reasonable to amend the definition of the radio-off meter to stipulate this, and it is unreasonable not to do so.  By not including this definition in the Tariff  BCH has the flexibility to amend the usage without notification or permission from the customer.  Under a services agreement, as stated by BCH, terms are agreed to by both BCH and the customer.

BC Hydro assures that the “radio-off” meter does not receive or send data wirelessly yet says that by amending the definition in the Tariff to clarify this for customers would affect the allowed functionality of the radio-off meter, limiting its use. This is a contradiction. If the radio off meter does not send or receive data, there is no functionality to the meter’s transmitter with which to interfere.

BCH asserts that the Dictionary definition of “transmit” encompasses sending and receiving. The common definition under standard dictionaries and Roget’s Thesaurus include no references to receiving, only to sending.

The customer is asking for a clarification of the functions of the radio off meter, and in my humble opinion the appropriate place for this is in the definitions. I ask that BC Hydro reconsider its stance regarding this simple request to clarify in the Tariff what the “radio off” meter actually is.

  1.   260. Question 3

The initial question in the IR 2.5 was:

Does the amended Electric Tariff that BC Hydro is proposing state clearly anywhere that BC Hydro must operate within the terms of the Electric Tariff?

BCH Response:

BC Hydro states in response to Noble IR 2.5.1 that the electric tariff is not technically in the nature of a contract between BC Hydro and its customers, but BC Hydro holds customers to the terms and conditions of service contained in the electric tariff as if the tariff is a contract. Ms. Noble also understands that in addition to the term “service agreement” the electric tariff also uses the term “contract” to describe BC Hydro’s relationship with its customers.

Question: How does the service agreement differ from the contract between BC Hydro and its customers?314

BCH Response:

261. The references to “service agreement”, “contract”  and similar expressions in the Electric Tariff and various tariff supplements have any no bearing on the nature of the legal relationship between BC Hydro and its customers. That relationship lacks some of the essential features of contractual relationships recognized at law including, for example, consensus ad idem, a mutual intention to enter into a legally binding relationship, and so on. Generally, the terms and conditions of service as set by the Commission are better thought of as an enactment or set of enactments more akin to regulations or other subordinate legislation issued by entities empowered by statute to do so.

Intervener’s Argument:

The initial question was never answered. It pertained to the removal of section 2.1 of the Tariff which states:

“BC Hydro serves Customers solely in accordance with the Electric Tariff, including Terms and Conditions and Rate Schedules…”

Specifically the question asked by Ms. Khan on my behalf reiterated my initial question, which has yet to be answered.

BC Hydro took this as an undertaking and responded as follows:

BCH’s RESPONSE in the Undertaking 29 – Revised

Yes, section 2.1 of Terms and Conditions, page 2-1, Appendix G-1A, Exhibit B-1-1 states:

“The Service Agreement between a Customer and BC Hydro will comprise, to the extent applicable, the application for Service, as accepted by BC Hydro, the provisions of the Terms and Conditions and Rate Schedules, and any additional terms and conditions of Service agreed by BC Hydro and the Customer in an Electric Tariff Supplement or otherwise.”

The definition of Service Agreement is also included in section 1 of the proposed Terms and Conditions:

“The agreement setting out the rights and responsibilities of BC Hydro and a Customer for Service, including the application for Service accepted by BC Hydro (if any), all applicable provisions of the Terms and Conditions and applicable Rate Schedule(s), and any additional terms and conditions of Service as agreed by BC Hydro and the Customer in an Electric Tariff Supplement or otherwise.”

Intervener’s Argument:

With all due respect, this revision is in no way comparable to the statement which limits BCH’s actions to those included in the Tariff. Instead, phrases such as “to the extent applicable”, means that BCH can do whatever it wishes to in any individual situation, with no accountability or explanation.

Another major concern with this revised statement is that it implies that the customer has an opportunity to participate in negotiating the service agreement, which is not accurate. It is clear to all that when a new customer applies for electrical service, they must pay their bills as presented, and accept whatever conditions BC Hydro applies. The customer has no recourse because there is no competition and no alternative other than going off grid.

FOLLOWUP QUESTION:  Why is the current statement which is clear and succinct being removed from the Tariff?  It reads:

“BC Hydro serves Customers solely in accordance with the Electric Tariff, including Terms and Conditions and Rate Schedules.”

The customer deserves to be assured that BC Hydro is acting and will act according to the terms agreed to by BCUC and installed in the Tariff. In the past it was necessary for customers to refer to the Tariff to ensure that they were treated as required. As examples: Over the last year or so, several people who still have analog meters have been told that they must take a smart meter because they had not paid the legacy fee of $32.40 a month. But when they referred to the Tariff, it says clearly that Hydro will bill customers for the legacy fee. In these instances BCH had erred in not billing this fee. These people had paid everything they were billed. When the smart meter department was referred to the Tariff, they agreed that the analog could be kept BUT that the people would have to pay the fee back to Dec. 2013. The Tariff clearly says that if BCH makes a billing error the customer is responsible for paying at most 6 months back payments. It was only when the billing and/or the smart meter departments were referred to the Tariff that the corrections were made.

Without the stipulation that BCH is held to the terms and conditions of the Tariff, the customer would be left with little to ensure that the Tariff is being followed. BC Hydro assertion that they do not put “business practices” in the Tariff means that their customers, in many regards, are left uninformed about their service, their obligations and their rights.

  1.  262. Question 4

“In Ms. Noble’s view, the exemption of liability acts to protect BC Hydro at the potential expense of the customer. Ms.Noble believes that the exemption disincentivizes BC Hydro and its employees and agents from acting in a safe, reliable and responsible manner, as is required by the tariff and encourages irresponsible, unsafe conduct on the part of BC Hydro’s employees and agents as there is an exemption from liability.

So to clarify, does the exemption from liability extend to wilful misconduct of BC Hydro employees and agents?

  1. As set out in the Electric Tariff and in BC Hydro’s response to Sharon Noble IR 2.8.1 316  BC Hydro “shall not be responsible or liable for any loss, injury, damage or expense… unless the loss, injury, damage or expense is directly resulting from the willful misconduct of [BC Hydro]… provided, however, that [BC Hydro is] … not responsible for … economic loss even if the loss is directly resulting from the willful misconduct of [BC Hydro].”
  1. Question 5

If BC Hydro’s employees are not subject to penalties or liability for negligence, how can customers be assured that BC Hydro will not cause harm to customers and the public while providing electricity service?317

  1. This question is fully answered by BC Hydro’s response to Sharon Noble IR 2.8.1. 318

Intervener’s Argument:


In section 2.8.1 BCH says that there is a policy to impose some liability risk … for the most egregious conduct.

The narrower exemption from liability for wilful misconduct in section 9.5 of BC Hydro’s Electric Tariff and section 8.1 of FortisBC Inc.’s tariff reflects a policy choice to impose some liability risk on electric utilities for the most egregious conduct, while still ensuring that a successful lawsuit or claim is unlikely to undermine the utility’s financial well-being and ability to provide service.

BCH should explain where this risk is accepted and explained.  There is nothing in the current wording that takes responsibility for any damage, or liability.

The term “economic loss” is not defined and this lack of clarity serves to confuse the statement.

This exemption from liability has allowed BCH to make decisions or to allow decisions to be made on their behalf which has resulted in property loss or damage for which they deny liability. One example pertains to the hiring of unqualified persons to install smart meters. Normally this job is done by a linesman or some other electrical expert with significant experience and training. BC Hydro contracted with Corix to hire people with no relevant training or experience. Corix gave these new hirees a few hours training and allowed them to exchange meters in a manner that is counter to all electrical safety standards. In many cases electrical equipment and appliances were damaged or ruined, and BC Hydro refused to compensate the victim. I believe that if BCH were held liable, only qualified personnel would have been allowed to install these devices and would have done so according to protocol set by the Canadian Standards Association, e.g. CSA C22.2 No. 115-141.5 which stipulates that the exchange not be made with the meter being live, and customers would not have suffered economic loss.

I understand that BCH has this ‘no risk statement’, as do other utilities, to limit losses and to prevent lawsuits. BCH is putting itself in a position that is highly advantageous compared to that of its customers. Not only can BCH cause damage and walk away from liability, but it has the financial resources to fight anyone attempting to obtain reimbursement for damage done. The only recourse for most people is to apply to their insurer to make repairs, which can be limited and results in higher premiums.

  1.   266. Question 6

So one of the justifications posed by BC Hydro for the exemption from liability is that the exemption has been in place since 1980. And I believe this is contained in one of the IR responses. How does length of time in the tariff make the exemption right or fair? 319

BCH Response:

  1. The observation in BC Hydro’s response to Sharon Noble’s IR 2.8.1 that the current limitation of liability provisions in the Electric Tariff have been in place since at least 1980 was made to indicate that the provision has been long accepted and not controversial despite being subject to complaint processes and/or the Commission’s authority for about 36 years.

Intervener’s Argument:

The response that this no liability statement has been in the Tariff since 1980 does not mean it is right or fair. The vast majority of BCH’s customers do not know there is a Tariff and few have ever read it. Those to whom I have shown this statement are outraged, as am I, that customers have few rights or protections, and no guarantee that BCH would be held accountable in any regard for defective equipment or poorly trained personnel which leads to loss of property or life. This is hard to justify and equally hard to understand.

BC Hydro has failed to explain why a customer should not be protected against errors, unsafe conduct or willful negligence by its employees, without using the claim that this is for the sake of the long-term financial well-being of the corporation and the stability of the rates.

  1.   268. Question 7

Is BC Hydro responsible for damage sustained by customers that result from power surges caused by BC Hydro? 320

BCH Response:

  1. As noted above BC Hydro is generally exempt from lability (sic) for losses arising from, among other things, “defect in the supply of Electricity”, except where caused by “wilful misconduct”, in which case BC Hydro is still exempt from liability for economic losses. Accordingly BC Hydro expects that in most if not all cases it would not be liable for losses caused by a power surge.

Intervener’s Argument:

Power surges can be caused by removal of meters from homes without shutting the power off. As stated above, this is counter to CSA standards. Due to the fact that electricity is dangerous, BCH must be held to a standard that ensures public safety. If there are no ramifications for non-compliance with laws and regulations, the public cannot be assured of the safe delivery of this essential service.

Further, if the Tariff is weakened so that BCH is not held to the terms of the Tariff, BCUC will have no grounds for oversight.

If BC Hydro operates outside the terms of the Tariff and safety standards/regulations, and damage is caused by BC Hydro and/or its employees, other than engaging a lawyer and, at great expense, suing BC Hydro, how can a customer be compensated?

Submitted with respect,
Sharon Noble


Rebuttal to BCUC Final Order & Final Response to Smart Meter Fire Safety Concerns Complaint

2016-08-28 BCUC is failing to protect the public

I have shared the response that BCUC sent me on July 28, 2016 in which they basically said that despite all of the many problems re. reporting, tracking, monitoring, etc., they choose to believe that there were no problems and said that there would be no formal report. It was up to me to provide more information to convince them that there is something wrong.

Below is my rebuttal, and the covering letter that has been sent to every MLA and every major media outlet. Please help by sharing this with friends, relatives, your MLA, media in your area, and with your responses to BCUC.

Sharon Noble
Director, Coalition to Stop Smart Meters

BCUC Final Order – Response to Smart Meter Fire Safety Concerns


To: Every MLA and media outlet

After years of sending information about fires associated with smart meters, and evidence that many had failed, and having received in return responses from BCUC that their hands were tied by the Clean Energy Act, I lodged a formal complaint on July 13, 2015 in which I accused BCUC of failing to do its job as mandated by the BC Utilities Act. Under this Act one of BCUC’s prime duties is to ensure that service is provided to the public in a safe and efficient manner. I provided 6 examples (from the many that I have gathered over the years) to support my assertion that smart meters have caused fires, asking that an independent investigation be undertaken by experts in electrical engineering to determine if these devices were safe.

BCUC eventually agreed to review the information I’d provided, and in Feb, 2016 sent me a draft report, asking for my comments by early March. The draft, while incomplete, was damning. I identified shortfalls and provided data to substantiate my charges. The entire draft report with my responses can be found at

On Jul 28, 2016 BCUC wrote to tell me that no final report would be forthcoming because, and I quote:

“At this time your complaint is closed as the evidence reviewed does not demonstrate an increased fire safety risk related to smart meters. However the Commission has determined that there are gaps in reporting incidents where the meter and/or meter base is the possible source of a high temperature or fire event and is directing BC Hydro and FortisBC to file semi-annual incident reports.”

1.    Despite there being many infractions of laws and regulations

a)    BC Hydro and Fortis remove meters from the scenes of fires before the fire inspection has been completed;

b)    Office of the Fire Commission (OFC) does not receive fire reports in a timely manner and consistently;

c)    Fire departments do not call BC Safety Authority to inspect the fire scene whenever the cause of the fire is believed to have been electrical in nature.

2.    Despite there being no tracking of fires

a)     BC Hydro does not track smart meter incidents after installation;

b)    OFC does not have a code for smart meters and merely codes them as “electrical”.

c)     Fire departments, in many instances,  are not filing reports with the OFC or is doing so inconsistently or late. Annual reports are therefore incomplete and unreliable.

d)    BC Safety Authority (BCSA) does not track fires that have been inspected for the largest communities in BC:  Maple Ridge, Burnaby, No. Vancouver (City), No. Vancouver (District), Surrey, Vancouver, Victoria, West Vancouver.

3.    Despite there being evidence from electrical engineers and admissions by certification bodies that these meters have design flaws that could pose fire hazards

BCUC has decided that there is no reason for concern and that it is up to the complainant, me, to provide sufficient additional evidence to persuade BCUC to do their job. Their formal response to me can be found at  and below is my rebuttal.

It is high time that someone with authority take this matter seriously. Lives are at risk for no reason.

Yours truly,
Sharon Noble


From: Sharon Noble
Sent: August 28, 2016
Subject: RESPONSE TO G-124-16_BCH-FBC-Smart Meter Safety Complaint (003) –2

Dear Ms. Ross,

Re: British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority and FortisBC Inc.
Customer Complaint – Smart Meter/Advanced Meter Fire Safety
July 13, 2015                                                                                                                       

I received your letter of July 28, 2016 along with the justification for your decision not to finalize the draft report on smart meter fire safety.  I must admit to being not only frustrated by your decision but also confused by it and the basis upon which it was made.  Rather than write a lengthy rebuttal of the summary you’ve provided, I will make my observations and comments. You are considering the file closed but I cannot because I have concerns which have yet to be addressed and are too important to be disregarded by the BCUC.

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[KEY:  Highlighted text is from Sharon Noble]

1)    “At this time your complaint is closed as the evidence reviewed does not demonstrate an increased fire safety risk related to smart meters. However the Commission has determined that there are gaps in reporting incidents where the meter and/or meter base is the possible source of a high temperature or fire event and is directing BC Hydro and FortisBC to file semi-annual incident reports.”  (Covering Letter)

The BCUC agrees that the reporting of incidents has “gaps”, yet believes that there is evidence to support the supposition that smart meters do not increase risk of fires. This is inconsistent and illogical.

2)    “The British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority and FortisBC Inc. are directed to report to the British Columbia Utilities Commission all incidents where a meter and/or meter base is reasonably assessed to be the possible or likely source of a high temperature or fire event that results in the meter and or meter base requiring replacement. All such incidents must be reported to the appropriate authority or authorities for investigation, as appropriate. If no such authority is appropriate, then the utility must conduct its own investigation as to the cause of the incident.”  (Pg. 2/2)

Given that evidence shows that BC Hydro and the various agencies have failed to comply with regulations already in place, I have serious concerns that the recommendations made by BCUC will be enforced or followed. The fox-henhouse analogy seems appropriate in this situation.

a)     Information regarding failed and burned meters, and their design flaws have been provided to many agencies, including the BCUC for years. Why has there been no independent investigation by a qualified forensic electrical expert to determine if the meters were safe or not? If these in fact are dangerous, lives and property are being put at risk.

b)    What oversight will occur to ensure that incidents are reported consistently and correctly? They are supposed to be reported to the BCSA now and are not. How will BCUC know when there are “gaps”? It was not until I made my complaint and provided evidence that gaps occurred and regulations were not being followed that BCUC was aware that this was occurring.

c)    BC Hydro and Fortis have not been ordered to follow all regulations, have not been ordered to require an inspection by BCSA for possible electrical fires, and have not been ordered to not remove meters from the scenes of fires before the BCSA and the fire/insurance inspectors have completed their investigations. What is changing from the current situation? Now that you have proof that laws are not being complied with, why is no one being reprimanded? What will be the penalties for future disregard of the laws?

d)    BC Hydro and Fortis have not been ordered to submit for inspection all failed meters that have overheated but where fires were prevented. Without independent expert review of the failed meters, all other reporting is meaningless.

3)    “While complainant states that “…[smart] meters are dangerous” and “should not be on homes in BC,” the Panel more precisely defines the issue as whether smart meters materially increase the risk of fires in BC over analog and digital meters already in use in British Columbia.”  (Pg. 2/15 item 4.1)

What data are you basing this on? You already acknowledge that there is no data available. This is a red herring.

Smart meters cause fires. Analogs do not cause fires. I have asked BC Hydro for evidence that analogs have and could cause fires and have received nothing. This is because no evidence exists. I have asked firemen, fire inspectors, and insurance inspectors for evidence that analogs have caused fires and have been told they do not. Analogs are non-combustible, being made of glass and metal, and have no digital circuitry. Smart meters are combustible, made largely of plastic and they come with electrolytic capacitors or lithium batteries that explode if they get too hot. There is no comparison, so defining the issue as BCUC has is misleading and disingenuous.  (see below for further examples)

Analogs withstand hot sockets better than smart meters.

Analogs immune to surges   Note: smart meters are digital meters.

Digital Utility Meters Have “Voltage Transient Susceptibility” 

Although the EPRI document was ostensibly written about meter “accuracy,” it reveals a fundamental safety weakness with regard to all digital meters (as compared with analog meters) in a section entitled, “Voltage Transient Susceptibility.”  Quoting the document:

“The electronic circuits of solid state meters connect to the AC line to draw operating power and to perform voltage measurement. …  A range of electronic clamping and filtering com­ponents are used to protect the electronics from these voltage surges, but these components have limitations.  The ANSI C12.1 metering standard specifies the magnitude and number of surges that meters must tolerate. …  In any case, surges that exceed the tested limits, either in quantity or magnitude, could cause meter damage or failure.”

Electromechanical meters had no digital circuitry.  They utilized spark-gaps to control the location of arc-over and to dissipate the energy of typical voltage events.  As a result, they were generally immune to standard surge events.  This nature is evidenced in the section of ANSI C12.1 that specifies voltage surge testing, but al­lows that ‘This test may be omitted for electromechanical meters and registers’.”

4)    “On December 18, 2015, S.N. provided an email to the Commission with two hyperlinks. One hyperlink includes a discussion on a new Underwriters Laboratory (an American safety standard agency) voluntary safety standard for electric utility meters”  (Pg. 6/15)

This letter ignores the relevant and most significant portion of the statement provided in the hyperlink about the new UL standard that acknowledges that smart meters have design flaws that concern utilities and meter companies re. fires.  Is this because BCUC has no interest in finding out if these meters are fire hazards?  An objective observer might conclude that BCUC has no problem allowing devices on our homes that put property and lives at risk.

5)    “second provides an Answering Brief submitted to the United States of America National Labour Relations Board where statements from persons involved in the case regarding smart meters were cited including the following: “part of the problem was a loose connection between the meter and the meter base because the smart meters had thinner ‘blades’ than the previous analog meters” and “the loose connection caused heat, which, in turn, caused an electrical arc, which resulted in ‘two pallets of burned up meters’.”  (Pg. 6/15)

The report does not mention that linesmen with many years of experience were warning that the smart meters were faulty and were causing fires. Neither does this report acknowledge that the smart meters that did not fit the meter base correctly, as referred to in the Answering Brief, were the ITRON Centron II meters, the same model used in BC. Neither does it mention that the meter bases have not been certified by CSA to hold a combustible smart meter.

6)    “4.2.1 Fire reporting in BC Commission staff reviewed the fire reporting system in BC and found that data on reportable fires occurring in BC are collected by the OFC, under the authority of the Fire Services Act. Local fire departments must investigate and,report all fires to the OFC. In addition, if the cause of a fire is suspected to involve electrical equipment, the local fire department must notify the BC Safety Authority.6”  (Pg. 6/15)

The summary ignores my evidence that in many instances the fires are not being reported to the OFC and the BCSA is not being notified when the fire cause is believed to have been electrical in nature. Saying that this is a legal requirement is one thing, but without oversight and penalties, these laws are meaningless. No one seems to have known before I presented the evidence and no one has confirmed that in fact this is happening. Without accurate data and with those responsible denying there is any problem, no meaningful conclusions can be made. This alone is sufficient to call for an independent investigation into the numerous deficiencies within the system. BCUC has the responsibility and the authority to demand corrective action and is doing nothing.

7)     “SN has provided evidence of eight specific incidents. This evidence was used by the Commission to justify conducting this review of the complaint but it is not sufficiently comprehensive to be used directly to refute the OFC data which, as discussed above, is credible data for the whole province. The onus is on the complainant to present persuasive evidence or a persuasive case to support their complaint; in this case, S.N. has not done that.”  (Pg. 9/15)

A major reason for my complaint is that BCUC is not performing its duties according to the BC Utilities Commission Act and I have provided damning evidence to support this assertion.

I have provided strong evidence to warrant concern and action, yet BCUC is giving credence to OFC data which is incomplete and inaccurate over 8 specific incidents where smart meters have failed and burned. I limited the number I provided to 8 because that was sufficient for the government of Saskatchewan to take action.  May I ask how many incidents would be sufficient for you acknowledge there is a problem? 12? 20?   Please let me know and I will provide that information.

Even though I am not an expert and am not being paid, as are those reviewing and refuting this information, the onus is being put on me to provide evidence that the smart meters are fire hazards.  Rather it is the BCUC and BC Hydro who rightly have the responsibility to ensure that an electrical device that is being put on our homes is safe and I charge that to do otherwise is a failure of duty. This clearly is an indication that duty is not being done by the very agencies responsible for protecting the public.

Why hasn’t the BCUC consulted with forensic fire experts and independent electrical engineers? If you don’t look, you cannot find.  Likewise if you don’t want to find, you don’t look.

8)    “The Panel relies on the OFC data reported in the Garis Report because, in the view of the Panel, the fire reporting data from the OFC under the authority of the Fire Services Act is authoritative for BC. Despite the allegations made by S.N. that some fire reports are never submitted to the OFC and that some reports are submitted late the Panel considers that the reporting requirements of the Fire Services Act provide a legal requirement which supports the credibility ofthe data. As well, the Panel finds that the Garis Report is credible because it reports the OFC data and Mr. Garis, a Fire Chief and academic, is a credible author for such a report.”  (Pg. 12/15)

With all due respect, this statement makes no sense.  

The BCUC is ignoring the fact that the requirements of the Fire Services Act are not being followed, as I’ve proven. Reports are not being filed as required yet BCUC is pretending they are, just as Mr. Garis has. These are not my allegations, they are facts. I have proof. I sent you 2 examples. Do you want more? I have many.

Mr. Garis is a fire chief. I have found no evidence that he has credentials that would support the faith that BCUC places in his conclusions. Even though Garis was commissioned by and paid by Hydro for the report, he is considered unbiased.

Even though I am not paid by anyone and I have shown, and the BCUC has acknowledged, that the information the OFC used for annual reports is incomplete (with many fires missing or reported as being “undetermined” due to missing meters, for example), my evidence is ignored. The BCUC finds Mr. Garis’s conclusion credible even though it is based on this incomplete, inaccurate data. I submit that an academic has the responsibility to ensure that the data being used is correct, complete, or would make a note should there be some that is not. This is not an academic paper and to present it as such demonstrates a lack of integrity by all involved.

Again, with all due respect, garbage in, garbage out.

9)    “This evidence was used by the Commission to justify conducting this review of the complaint but it is not sufficiently comprehensive to be used directly to refute the OFC data which, as discussed above, is credible data for the whole province. The onus is on the complainant to present persuasive evidence or a persuasive case to support their complaint; in this case, S.N. has not done that.”  (Pg. 12/15)

The evidence I gave was as examples to refute the statement in the draft which said that all fires must be reported to the OFC (implying that they were). As I said in my comments, I have documentation that shows that a very high percentage of fire reports are not reported within the timeframe required by law, and many fires are not reported at all. In fact, many of the fires were reported only after I requested the report from the OFC, often many months, even years after the incident occurred. This data is the basis for the OFC annual report that Mr. Garis used for his report upon which the BCUC is depending. It appears that because this is such important information that the BCUC should be following up with the OFC. This is BCUC’s job – not mine. The onus is not mine.

10)  “In regards to S.N.’s further four requests, the Panel has authority over public utilities under the UCA. While the Panel acknowledges that overlapping jurisdictions among various public agencies can be problematic, the Commission does not have the legislative authority to address requests related to other agencies. S.N. may choose to address her concerns with the relevant agencies, including the OFC, discussed in these reasons.”  (Pg. 13/15)

The BCUC may not have legislative authority to address requests, but certainly it must have the obligation to advise the government when a major problem has been identified. The overlapping of jurisdictions is one thing, but major gaps in reporting that lead to inaccurate, incomplete knowledge or reporting of data about issues that pertain to public safety is another. To suggest that I deal with the OFC is indicative that no one is in charge. I repeat, BCUC is not doing its job.

11)  The statements from the electrical engineers were ignored, and attributed to me, a person who admits to having no expertise in the field of electrical engineering, just because the engineers didn’t use their names. Does the lack of names make the information invalid, unworthy of being confirmed with electrical experts? Why didn’t the BCUC demand that an independent forensic electrical engineer inspect the ITRON smart meter, its design, and the reported flaws to determine if in fact the design flaws could lead to fires?  This is major shortfall in BCUC’s decision. (Pg. 6/15, point 4.5)

Bottom line, BCUC admits that the reporting is poor, there are significant gaps in the data gathering, and that regulations are being broken. Despite all of this, BCUC has decided that there is no reason for concern about the safety of combustible devices that are on nearly 2 million homes and businesses in BC. Further BCUC, despite admissions of major problems with data and monitoring, sees no reason to finalize the draft report. I find it curious that much of the significant information that is in the draft report and the comments that were given as requested were omitted from this summary. Why was this valuable data excised?

It appears to me, and I believe it will appear to anyone who reads this, that the BCUC is abdicating its responsibility under the Utilities Commission Act sections 23 (2) (which was omitted from your description of your legislative authority, page 1/15) and 38, and instead is asking me to continue to monitor and report shortfalls in the system. (highlighting in Sections 23 and 38 below is mine)

General supervision of public utilities
23  (1) The commission has general supervision of all public utilities and may make orders about
(a) equipment,
(b) appliances,
(c) safety devices,
(d) extension of works or systems,
(e) filing of rate schedules,
(f) reporting, and
(g) other matters it considers necessary or advisable for
(i) the safety, convenience or service of the public, or
(ii) the proper carrying out of this Act or of a contract, charter or franchise involving use of public property or rights.
(2) Subject to this Act, the commission may make regulations requiring a public utility to conduct its operations in a way that does not unnecessarily interfere with, or cause unnecessary damage or inconvenience to, the public

Public utility must provide service
38  A public utility must
(a) provide, and
(b) maintain its property and equipment in a condition to enable it to provide, a service to the public that the commission considers is in all respects adequate, safe, efficient, just and reasonable.

= = =

The BC Utilities Commission is obligated under the BC Utilities Commission Act to protect the public. It is failing in this regard and the public deserves to know it. When the next home burns, and should lives be lost, you cannot say you didn’t know. You are on notice.

Sharon Noble

This will be sent widely to every MLA, the media, and 20,000 Coalition members.

Newsletter 2016-05-18 Special report on fires


As you all know, last June and July I submitted an official complaint to BCUC charging that it was BCUC’s responsibility under the BC Utilities Commission Act to protect the public from unsafe practices. BCUC was failing to do its job by ignoring the information that I had provided showing that the smart meters that BC Hydro is installing have failed, melted and burned.  BCUC has consistently said it was prevented by The Clean Energy Act and Direction 4 from interfering in any aspect of the program. I argued this did not apply to safety, and that the BC Utilities Commission Act took precedent over the actions taken by this government to preclude BCUC’s involvement.

After several months, I was told that staff report regarding my allegations and evidence would be ready by the end of 2015. In the middle of February, 2016, I was told the draft report was ready and BCUC asked if I would like to read it and make comments. Of course I said yes. They gave me 2 weeks to do so, with comments submitted on March 3.

In mid-April when I asked when the report would be published, I was told the staff was working on revisions, and I should be given a date within 2 weeks. At the end of April, I was told no date could be given. A week later I asked again because the public deserves to know what was in the draft — which I believe to be damning. Again I was told no date could be given. Last week I advised the BCUC that unless they disapproved of my releasing my comments without its report, I would do so today.  They did not respond.  I have taken that absence of disapproval as acquiescence.

I have gathered comments for your information with paraphrases of statements from the draft. The draft contained confirmation that no one — not the Provincial Fire Commissioner, not the BC Safety Authority, not BC Hydro — is tracking smart meter incidents. It seems that I have more information about what is happening than any of these agencies who are mandated to know, do know. And what is worse, no one seems to be concerned.

I have provided the full details of my comments in the attachment:

Responses to BCUC Fire Report Draft by Sharon Noble:

which is long and detailed. Each of my charges and statements can be fully substantiated with documentation.  Below is a summary with which I concluded my response to the draft.

This should provide more than enough evidence to support our demand that these meters be declared defective and removed from our homes. Our lives and property are being put at risk.


I would like to present you with a scenario to make abundantly clear the problems that now exist with the smart meter investigative process. The premise upon which this scenario is built is a hypothetical, so no admissions are required of you.  It is, after all, just a hypothetical.

1 – A home catches fire.  The inciting cause of the fire is the smart meter.

2 – That’s the hypothetical.  What follows is not hypothetical.  It’s reality.

3 – While the fire is being fought, BC Hydro removes the smart meter.

4 – BC Hydro immediately sends the meter to ITRON without doing any investigation.

5 – When the fire department’s inspector inspects the scene all the evidence points to the area of the meter as being where the fire started, but with the smart meter gone, he is forced to say that the ignition source is “undetermined”.

6 – The BC Safety Authority is not called so this agency with the electrical experts have no opportunity to view the fire scene.

7 – The fire report is not completed for 15 months and therefore is not put on the system in time for the fire to be included in the annual report, but even if it had been, there is no accounting for fires with “undetermined” igniters.

8 – The result is that no one knows the smart meter caused the fire and BC Hydro is able to say it is not aware of any situation where a smart meter was determined responsible for causing a fire.

9 –  BC Hydro commissions and pays Mr. Len Garis to write a report about smart meter safety. Mr. Garis uses only the incomplete, inaccurate Fire Commissioner’s annual report, concluding that there have been no smart meter fires.

It is obvious that no one agency is in charge of this program with regard to safety and oversight. All of the attention has been given to getting smart meters on homes at all costs without regard to the health, safety or desires of BC Hydro customers.

I would ask that BCUC fulfill its role of protecting the public according to the BC Utilities Commission Act by doing the following, at the minimum:

  • Require that an immediate and complete investigation by independent qualified forensic experts of the safety of ITRON smart meters currently on homes in BC be undertaken;
  • Establish one agency that has the responsibility for coordination of the various reporting agencies to ensure regulations are followed and that tracking/reporting of all fires is done as per those regulations;
  • Establish meaningful penalties (e.g. firing) for those who disregard or allow others to disregard regulations, e.g. removing smart meters from fire scenes before official inspection has been done, or neglecting to inform the BCSA of an electrical incident before the scene has been corrupted;
  • Amend the BC Electrical Safety Regulation which currently exempts utilities from any and all safety regulations, ensuring that any utility equipment that is put on private residences and businesses is certified by a qualified agency (CSA) or a professional electrical engineer licensed in BC.

Given the lack of oversight and due diligence by any of the agencies, it must be considered that other fire hazards might exist that are not being reported or addressed. The problems are systemic and likely not specific to the smart meter program. If it were not for members of the public who devoted much time and effort to investigating and documenting the problems, it is likely that they never would have come to attention. This failure must be investigated by an independent body with the authority to enforce recommended changes.

 The smart meter program is unique in that devices that have been known to have caused problems elsewhere, e.g. in California, and for years before the program began in BC, are mandated to be on every home and business. Lives and property are being put at risk by the very government and agencies who are sworn to protect them. It should not be left to the members of the public to fight the government and BC Hydro to protect themselves and their homes.

Click here to see BCUC responses to “Fire report”


Sharon Noble
Director, Coalition to Stop Smart Meters
“It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong”
~ Voltaire