Category Archives: FortisBC

BCUC & Smart Meter Fires Report (July 2017)

Go to – http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/bcuc-smart-meter-fires-the-failure-to-protect/ – for the complete report, spreadsheet, documentation, and addenda.

 

BC Hydro Response & Sharon Noble’s Response Back – http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/bc-hydro-response-to-bcuc-request-for-comment-on-ms-nobles-correspondence-re-smart-meter-fires-report-october-20-2017/

Press Release – http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/press-release-bcuc-smart-meter-fires-september-21-2017/

Additional important information & links re smart meter fires:

BC Hydro Response to BCUC Request for Comment on Ms. Noble’s Correspondence re Smart Meter Fires Report – October 20, 2017

(click on photos to enlarge)

A couple of weeks ago, I received comments on my fire report from BC Hydro and Len Garis:

 

My response back:

From: Sharon Noble

Sent:November 7, 2017
To: ‘Commission Secretary BCUC:EX’ <Commission.Secretary@bcuc.com>
Cc:bchydroregulatorygroup@bchydro.com
Subject: BC Hydro Response to BCUC Request for Comment on Ms. Noble’s Correspondence

Dear Mr. Wruck,

The comments provided by Mr. James and Mr. Garis are consistent with those made in response to my charges over the last 4 years. They evade and mislead. None of the critical issues that I raised in this comprehensive fire report are addressed:

1) The expert information given by independent professional engineers regarding design flaws is ignored.

2) One source and one source only is used by Mr. Garis, and that source is incomplete and erroneous in many regards.

3) Mr. Garis failed to corroborate the information in the only source he used, failing to review the raw data which was readily available to him.

4) Regulations and laws are being violated:

i) Meters are being removed from homes prior to the inspection. BC Hydro states otherwise and ignores the evidence provided by BCSA, the media and by witnesses.

ii) Fire reports are not being completed in all situations where property is damaged.

iii) Many electrical fires are not being inspected by the BC Safety Authority or the inspectors at the 9 jurisdictions.

iv) Insurance reports are not available to victims or the general public.

5) Loopholes in regulations exist which allow dangerous devices and practices to put lives and property at risk.

6) There is no tracking of fires, no coordination among/between agencies,  and no central authority with responsibility for oversight.

7) The public is being given false, incorrect information.

According to evidence that I obtained directly and provided in my fire report, Mr. James has been misled with regard to procedures that BC Hydro follows.  It is imperative that he read the complete report, review the evidence, and consider that BC Hydro has allowed him to provide erroneous and irrelevant comments.

Mr. Wruck, I am still waiting for a response from the BCUC regarding the charges I made regarding the Commission’s  failure to protect the customers of BC Hydro, which is required under the BC Utilities Commission Act.  I look forward to receiving it at your earliest convenience.

Regards,
Sharon Noble

 

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John Horgan given 29,057 Petitions re Smart Meters to present to the Legislature on March 11, 2013

The comments from BC Hydro and Len Garis are the only ones I’ve received to date. Nothing at all from Premier Horgan, Energy Minister Mungall, Transportation Minister Trevena, or any of the MLAs to whom I sent the report. It truly seems that no one wants to acknowledge that there is a problem. I realize that everyone is busy but I don’t think that is the reason no one is responding. I think they fear they will have to do something that they do not want to do. They must be in support of this expensive, dangerous, and unnecessary program now that they have the power to do something — even if the smeters might burn a few homes down and put lives at risk.
I hope you will ask them. You might ask why the ITRON meters can’t be recalled and replaced with the wired meters like Idaho has, if they won’t support getting safe, dependable, long-lived analogs which would mean putting meter readers back to work.

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Go to – http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/bcuc-smart-meter-fires-the-failure-to-protect/ – for the complete report, spreadsheet, documentation, and addenda.

Press Release – http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/press-release-bcuc-smart-meter-fires-september-21-2017/

Additional important information & links re smart meter fires:

Smart Meter Fire Safety Report Ignored by BC Government & Media. Sharon Noble – October 6, 2017 – The Goddard Report with Jim Goddard

(audio 29:42) Smart Meter Fire Safety Report Ignored by BC Government & Media. Sharon NobleOctober 6, 2017 – The Goddard Report with Jim Goddard – YouTube – October 06, 2017:

(Why doesn’t your MLA care about the threat smart meters pose to your life? Sharon Noble is Director of The Coalition to Stop Smart Meters BC Guest’s website: http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/

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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:

Press Release – BCUC & Smart Meter Fires – September 21, 2017

PRESS RELEASE – for immediate release                                                               September 21, 2017

WHERE THERE’S SMOKE, THERE’S FIRE
BCUC fails to protect smart meter customers

The BC Utilities Commission Act says the prime reason the BC Utilities Commission exists is to ensure BC citizens receive safe and secure service. Section 25 of the Act reads:

If the commission, after a hearing held on its own motion or on complaint, finds that the service of a public utility is unreasonable, unsafe, inadequate or unreasonably discriminatory, the commission must
(a) determine what is reasonable, safe, adequate and fair service, and
(b) order the utility to provide it.
http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/96473_01

Sharon Noble, Director of Coalition To Stop Smart Meters, last week released a report based on three years of research into smart meter fires and failures. Noble charges that BCUC has failed to do its job. Even after BCUC received a formal complaint with evidence that public safety is being jeopardized, the Commission did nothing. BCUC neglected to order BC Hydro and FortisBC to provide “reasonable, safe, adequate and fair service”. The report asserts:

1)    No agency is tracking fires;

2)    Regulations and laws are being broken with impunity, e.g. meters are being removed from the fire scene, electrical inspections are not being done;

3)    Reporting is haphazard at best;

4)    The meter is combustible, poorly designed, with critical components uncertified by any agency to be safe;

5)    BC Hydro did not perform its due diligence by having an independent electrical engineer inspect the meter for safety prior to signing the contract. Rather it accepted ITRON’s assurances;

6)    Smart meters have burned, melted and caused homes to burn. BC Hydro and BCUC both deny this is happening.

Consumer Affairs recalls defective devices, such as cars and electrical appliances (https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/consumer-product-safety.html). Consumer Affairs has no jurisdiction to recall defective smart meters because the meters are owned by the utility company, not by any of the consumers who are required to use them. Noble observes, “Who is watching out for us, ensuring that these devices mandated by law and installed on our homes without our permission are safe? No one.”

–  30  –

Contact information for media only:
Sharon Noble
dsnoble@shaw.ca

Next page: Image Files, Background Files

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All the pdf files are large, therefore accessing the links will not be a quick download. Your patience is appreciated.

1.   The Report (2 pdfs)

The Report         http://tinyurl.com/SMFireReport

Appendix W     http://tinyurl.com/AppendixWSpreadsheet

2.   Research documentation (2 pdfs*)
Includes reports received from the Fire Commissioner, the Attorney General’s Office (JAG), the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (TRA), BC Safety Authority, BC Hydro, and victims.
The reports in these Volumes are in the same sequence as the summaries provided on the spreadsheet in Appendix W.

Volume I        http://tinyurl.com/SuperReportDataVol-I

Volume II       http://tinyurl.com/SuperReportDataVol-II

* The amount of documentation is extensive, therefore it is presented in two volumes:
Volume I holds reports for fires that occurred in municipality names beginning with A to M;
Volume II holds reports for municipality names beginning with N to W.

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REPORT CONTENT
Credit: Coalition to Stop Smart Meters


COVER OF THE REPORT
Credit: Coalition to Stop Smart Meters

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BCUC & Smart Meter Fires: The Failure to Protect – September 13, 2017 – http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/bcuc-smart-meter-fires-the-failure-to-protect/

BC Hydro Response & Sharon Noble’s Response Back – http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/bc-hydro-response-to-bcuc-request-for-comment-on-ms-nobles-correspondence-re-smart-meter-fires-report-october-20-2017/

Additional important information & links re smart meter fires:

 

Will BC NDP Ignore 700 Page Smart Meter Fire Report? Sharon Noble – September 12, 2017 – The Goddard Report with Jim Goddard

(audio 36:37) Will BC NDP Ignore 700 Page Smart Meter Fire Report? Sharon NobleSeptember 12, 2017 – The Goddard Report with Jim Goddard by talkdigitalnetwork – YouTube – September 12, 2017:
(New 5-G Frequencies So Disruptive – Used as Military Weapons
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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:

BCUC & Smart Meter Fires: The Failure to Protect

The BC Utilities Commission’s prime reason for being, as stated in the BC Utilities Commission Act, is to ensure that the citizens of BC receive service that is safe and secure. Section 25 says:

If the commission, after a hearing held on its own motion or on complaint, finds that the service of a public utility is unreasonable, unsafe, inadequate or unreasonably discriminatory, the commission must

(a) determine what is reasonable, safe, adequate and fair service, and

(b) order the utility to provide it.

 

In July 2015 I lodged an official complaint with BCUC, charging that ITRON smart meters are not safe, have never been certified to be safe, and I provided 8 examples of fires and failures in BC that had put lives and property at risk. I asked for a formal investigation of this device and, if it was found to be unsafe, that a formal recall be made, with ITRON refunding all monies paid and charges incurred.

6 months later BCUC responded in a draft form, asking for me to respond, which I did. Included with my response were statements by Electrical Engineers who had inspected the smart meters and found them to have serious design flaws which cause them to be fire hazards. In addition I provided more evidence of fires in BC and elsewhere.

BCUC’s response was that my evidence was not “persuasive”, stating that they had been told, and were convinced, that the meters were safe based upon a report that had been commissioned and paid for by BC Hydro, a report that Len Garis wrote using one source only – the annual Fire Commissioner’s report. Nothing else. BCUC did not seek expert input from Electrical Engineers. Neither did they ask me for more information. Rather, they put the onus on me to prove them and Len Garis wrong.

This report does this, in spades. I now charge that BCUC has failed to do its job by ordering BC Hydro and FortisBC to provide “reasonable, safe, adequate and fair service” after having received a complaint with evidence that the public’s safety is being jeopardized.

I hope you will read the report and consider the following:

1)   No agency is tracking fires;

2)   Regulations and laws are being broken with impunity, e.g. meters are being removed from the fire scene, electrical inspections are not being done;

3)   Reporting is haphazard at best;

4)   The meter is combustible, poorly designed, and not certified by any agency to be safe;

5)   BC Hydro did not perform its due diligence by having an independent Electrical Engineer inspect the meter prior to signing the contract. Rather, it accepted ITRON’s assurances;

6)   Smart meters have burned, melted and caused homes to burn. BC Hydro and BCUC both deny this is happening.

None of these factors were taken into consideration by either Len Garis in his “report” or by BCUC in their rejection of my complaint.

Consumer Affairs recalls defective devices, e.g. cars, electrical appliances. But because a utility owns the smart meters, they are not considered consumer goods and Consumer Affairs has no jurisdiction. Who is watching out for us, ensuring that these devices that are being put on our homes without our permission, mandated by law, are safe?  No one. This is in our hands and this report provides the means by which we can and must demand a recall.

The files are all large, so please be patient when downloading them – it will take time.

1) http://tinyurl.com/SMFireReport

2) http://tinyurl.com/AppendixWSpreadsheet

3) http://tinyurl.com/SuperReportDataVol-ISupporting Documentation (A-M)

4) http://tinyurl.com/SuperReportDataVol-IISupporting Documentation (cont’d)  (N-W)

5) Addenda

http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Letter-to-Premier-John-Horgan-Smart-Meters-A-Fire-Hazard-by-Sharon-Noble-September-01-2017.pdf

http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Letter-to-David-M.-Morton-CEO-BCUC-Smart-Meters-A-Fire-Hazard-by-Sharon-Noble-September-01-2017.pdf

http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Letter-to-Energy-Minister-M.-Mungall-BCUC-and-Smart-Meter-Fires-The-Failure-to-Protect-by-Sharon-Noble-September-02-2017.pdf

http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Letter-to-Transportation-Minister-C.-Trevena-BCUC-and-Smart-Meter-Fires-The-Failure-to-Protect-by-Sharon-Noble-September-02-2017.pdf

http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Letter-to-MLA-Sonia-Furstenau-BCUC-and-Smart-Meter-Fires-The-Failure-to-Protect-by-Sharon-Noble-September-02-2017.pdf

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Press Release – http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/press-release-bcuc-smart-meter-fires-september-21-2017/

BC Hydro Response & Sharon Noble’s Response Back – http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/bc-hydro-response-to-bcuc-request-for-comment-on-ms-nobles-correspondence-re-smart-meter-fires-report-october-20-2017/

Additional important information & links re smart meter fires:

Cell Phone Radiation – More Brain Cancer, Less Sperm? Sharon Noble – August 15, 2017 – The Goddard Report with Jim Goddard

(audio 25:35) Cell Phone Radiation – More Brain Cancer, Less Sperm? Sharon NobleAugust 15, 2017 – The Goddard Report with Jim Goddard by talkdigitalnetwork – YouTube – August 15, 2017:
(Smart Meter fires continue but no official agency tracking them.
Guest’s website: http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/)
&
(Sharon Noble – Smart Meter fires continue but no official agency tracking them.)

 

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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:

https://www.youtube.com/user/talkdigitalnetwork/search?query=sharon+noble

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: http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/)
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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:

https://www.youtube.com/user/talkdigitalnetwork/search?query=sharon+noble

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:

BRITISH COLUMBIA UTILITIES COMMISSION
BC HYDRO RATE APPLICATION
FINAL ARGUMENT, SHARON NOBLE
OCTOBER 8, 2016

Overview:

  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.
E.g.  http://www.dictionary.com/browse/transmit

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:

Response:

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