2014-07-19 An official complaint to the Ombudsperson re. due process re. FortisBC and BC Hydro

1) Below in the letters section is a formal complaint to the Ombudsperson by Andy Shadrack, Director Area D, about due process. It is important that Andy not be the only one writing to the Ombudsperson about this, and about the treatment people, especially those who are sensitive or who have major health problems, are receiving from BC Hydro or FortisBC. The BCUC is unable to take action even against violations of the Utilities Act because the government has told them they cannot get involved with the $$meter program. Our government is ruling by directive. Democracy is a thing of the past if this is allowed to continue.

PLEASE, write to the Ombudsperson as well as to your MLA.  One voice, no matter how articulate, is not as strong as many joining together. A complaint can be mailed to the address in Andy’s email below or via a form at:

https://www.ombudsman.bc.ca/how-to-make-a-complaint/online-complaint-form

If you use the form, would you please copy and paste it to an email to share with me?

2) People in Saskatchewan deserve more information about the $$meters and the installers than they are likely to get from the government or the utility company. If you would like to share your knowledge and experience, you can write to:   letters@thestarphoenix.com

3) Smart Meters explanation needed by Murray Mandryk – The Starphoenix – July 18, 2014:

– http://www.thestarphoenix.com/technology/Smart+Meters+explanation+needed/10040808/story.html

http://www.leaderpost.com/technology/SaskPower+smart+meter+supplier+shaky+track+record/10037175/story.html

4) Gary Reimer has yet to explain why we are being charged legacy fees  for the very same service many with $$meters are receiving because their meters are not being read remotely. We are being discriminated against, having fees charged purely as punishment or extortion.

. Refunds for unread meters by Greg Reimer – Saturday, July 19: School must resume in September – Vancouver Sun – July 18, 2014:
– http://www.vancouversun.com/Saturday+July+School+must+resume+September/10043025/story.html

5) Ontario MPs are getting involved with helping people with billing problems with Hydro One. Why don’t our MPs and MLAs step forward and help us?

http://www.insideottawavalley.com/news-story/4637885-gallant-seeks-investigation-into-federally-regulated-ontario-smart-meters/

6) From a member who saw a comment on  Elizabeth May’s Facebook page about smart meters, and asked me to pass this on. Let’s support Brian Olynek’s message. Hopefully, Elizabeth will re-examine her belief that the $$mart grid is green and ultimately will save energy.

I just noticed this Smart Meter comment by Brian Olynek, left on the Green Party Facebook page below where Elizabeth May says:

Green MPs don’t work for power. We work for our constituents, and for all Canadians. And together, we will rebuild the Canada that we love.” – Elizabeth May

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152625693282244

Letters:
Exactly how dangerous are meters? by Lori Giesbrecht – The Valley Voice – July 17, 2014:
– http://www.thevalleyvoice.ca/Voice%20Stories/july%202014/smart-meter-safety-questions%20-%20july-17-2014.htm

BC hydro charges questioned by Mike Burns – Monday, July 14: Can’t have cake and eat it too – Vancouver Sun – July 11, 2014:
– http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/letters/Monday+July+have+cake/10022820/story.html

Re: Hydro bills cast doubt, Letters, July 10 [- http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Thursday+July+Granville+Island+statements+clarified/10015177/story.html]

Please read from the bottom up.

From: Andy Shadrack [mailto:ashadra@telus.net]
Sent: July 19, 2014 8:11 AM

Subject: Official Complaint With Regard Lack of Due Process at B.C. Utilities Commission

Kaslo
Saturday July 19th

For your information this is to advise that I filed the following complaint (see immediately below) on July 9th with the BC Ombudsperson, Kim Carter, and below that I append the response I received from the Commission on July 9th with regard my complaint about lack of privacy for persons with Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance Attributed to Electromagnetic Fields (IEI-EMF).

Cheers
Andy Shadrack
Director Area D
Regional District Central Kootenay

************************************

Official Complaint With Regard Lack of Due Process at B.C. Utilities Commission

Dillon, Montana

July 9th, 2014

Kim Carter, Ombudsperson
Office of the BC Ombudsperson
PO Box 9039, Station Provincial Government
Victoria, BC
V8W 9A5

Dear Ms Carter:

Re:  The British Columbia Utilities Commission handling of:
(a) a FortisBC Inc. Application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for an Advanced Metering Infrastructure Project filed July 26, 2012;
(b) a FortisBC Inc. Application for an Advanced Meter Infrastructure Radio-Off Option filed August 30, 2013; and
(b) a British Columbia  Hydro and Power Authority Application for Approval of Charges Related to the Meter Choices Program filed October 7, 2013;
all of which in connection with the implementation of smart meters  in British Columbia.

The purpose of this letter is to make a complaint about the lack of due process and procedure of the British Columbia Utilities Commission (the Commission) in handling the above mentioned applications.

Background
I am the elected Director for Area “D” of the Regional District of Central Kootenay, a position I have held since November, 2005.  As such, I represent the residents of Area “D”,  a large rural area in the Kootenays which relies on electricity supplied, in different parts of Area “D”,  by the British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority (B.C. Hydro) and by FortisBC Inc. (FortisBC).

In 2010, the provincial government passed the Clean Energy Act, which directed B.C. Hydro to install smart meters by the end of 2012 exempt from any oversight by the B.C. Utilities Commission.  By the end of 2012, however, approximately 84,000 B.C. Hydro customers had avoided, evaded, or refused installation of smart meters on their property.  In Area “D”, for example, the entire community of Argenta (104 persons) signed a petition opposing installation of smart meters.

On September 30, 2011, in Vancouver, delegates to the Annual General Meeting of the Union of  British Columbia Municipalities endorsed a resolution as follows:

Therefore Be It Resolved that a moratorium be placed on the mandatory installation of wireless smart meters until the major issues and problems identified regarding wireless smart meters are independently assessed and acceptable alternatives can be made available at no added cost to the consumer.

In the spring of 2012, at a public panel discussion with their MLA, residents asked me as their local government Director to try to arrange a meeting with B.C. Hydro to discuss the smart meter issue.  B.C. Hydro subsequently refused to meet with residents, but it was persuaded, along with FortisBC, to meet with elected local government officials from across southeastern BC at the Annual General Meeting of the Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments during April.

On January 19, 2012, two delegations appeared before the Board of the Regional District Central Kootenay: Cliff Paluck, and Helga and Ken Auld of the Kootenay Chapter of Citizens for Safe Technology, and Blair Weston, Community and Aboriginal Relations Manager for FortisBC, after which the Board passed resolution 16/12:

In consideration that FortisBC is the hydro service provider for a significant portion of the RDCK population, we recommend FortisBC commit to proactively engage in public discussion on potential impacts of the AMI program, including impacts of specific technologies considered, and that they commit to outline a clear “opt out” policy, especially as it relates to health concerns“.

Subsequently, on April 12, 2012, the Board passed resolution 325/12:

Whereas the Kootenay Lake and Lardeau Valley portion of Electoral Area ‘D’ Official Community Plan Bylaw No. 996, 2009 under 8.0 Commercial and Industrial, General Commercial (C1) policies, 9, page 18 and 19 states that the Board:

Supports the right of communities to be informed of any changes to the electromagnetic spectrum, by all operators of cell phone towers, wi-fi systems, microwave systems, etc, that create man made electromagnetic fields; and also supports the right of communities to propose zoning designations that apply to these operations.

Be It Resolved that the Board supports the right of any property owner not to have smart meters or any smart meter adjunct equipment placed on their property without their express written permission, especially as it relates to health issues and concerns.

In the summer of 2012, B.C. Hydro began installation of smart meters in Area “D”.  Almost immediately I began to receive anxious enquiries from elderly constituents asking whether, if they refused to accept installation of a smart meter, B.C. Hydro could cut off their electricity. Eventually I became aware that B.C. Hydro’s contractors had gone back onto some constituents’ properties so many times that it became necessary to ask B.C. Hydro to cease its harassment of local residents with a view toward avoiding potential conflict, violence and injury. B.C. Hydro was also persuaded to cease installation of smart meters in Johnson’s Landing (another community with a high level of opposition to smart meters) following the catastrophic land slide which devastated that community, so as to avoid adding more angst and trauma.

Having been made fully aware of the widespread concerns and opposition of Area “D”’s residents to smart meters, I registered as an intervenor in the FortsBC Application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for its Advanced Metering Infrastructure Project and participated between August, 2012 and May, 2013, as well as between September 2013 and December 2013 in the subsequent hearings of FortisBC Application for an Advanced Metering Infrastructure Radio-Off Option.

In the fall of 2013, the B.C. government issued an Order-in-Council known as Direction 4, and on October 9, 2013, the Commission issued an order with interim opt out fee tariffs and conditions. Two days later a duly appointed Commission panel issued a regulatory timetable for hearings into setting the tariffs.  Thus, from October, 2013 until April, 2014 I also participated in the B.C. Hydro “Application for Approval of Charges Related to the Meter Choices Program” hearings after having become aware that the hearings were taking place after the community of Johnson’s Landing made a representation to B.C. Hydro.

Complaint
I write, on behalf of my constituents, to formally complain about a lack of due process and procedure during the aforementioned hearings before the Commission   Prior to these hearings no B.C. Hydro customer had been able to make any effective representation to the Commission on the matter of smart meter installation and these hearings were to be their only chance to do so.

A fair process would ensure that all B.C. Hydro customers have an equal right to make representations to the Commission on B.C. Hydro’s Smart Meter Choices Program, and equal say in any hearings that set fees and charges related to that program.  A fair process would also accommodate and respect the privacy of all customers of B.C. Hydro and FortisBC who are suffering from and being treated for the medical condition known as Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance Attributed to Electromagnetic Fields (IEI-EMF).

As Director for Electoral Area “D” of the Regional District Central Kootenay, I can find neither merit nor justice in the fact that of two constituents living side by side in Area “D”, one is eligible to opt out of the Smart Meter Choices Program while the other is not eligible, simply by the fact that B.C. Hydro had arranged installation of a smart meter by an arbitrarily set date at only one of the two residences. Further, constituents of mine who live within the FortisBC service area will all be eligible to opt out of that utility’s smart meter program.

The Commission:
a.    failed to convene a procedural conference to allow intervenors to make submissions concerning the scope of the hearings and failed to expand the scope of those hearings;

b.    failed to refer the issue of which customers should participate in the B.C. Hydro Smart Meter Choices Program to the B.C. Court of Appeal in accordance with the Commission’s powers (s.104 of the Act), in order to determine the constitutionality of Direction 4, and thus the Commission breached the Charter Rights of B.C. Hydro customers by limiting who could participate in the Smart Meter Choices Program to an arbitrary and narrowly defined class of customers;

c.    failed to review B.C. Hydro’s application “on the merits and justice of the case” as required under s. 75 of the Utilities Commission Act by limiting eligibility for participation in the Smart Meter Choices Program to an arbitrary and narrowly defined class of customers and thereby denying the choice of opting out to a substantial number of B.C. Hydro customers who found themselves outside that class;

d.    failed to make venues available where persons afflicted with IEI-EMF could attend the hearings free from exposure to intense electromagnetic fields: the Commission failed to accommodate persons afflicted with IEI-EMF and thereby restricted and limited the ability of such persons to participate in the FortisBC and B.C. Hydro hearings;

e.    failed to make venues available where the medical histories and diagnoses, etc. of persons with IEI-EMF could be discussed with some modicum of privacy, thereby failing to accommodate persons afflicted with IEI-EMF and restricting and limiting the ability of such persons to participate in the FortisBC and B.C. Hydro hearings; and

f.    failed to seek the advice of a physician familiar with treatment of persons with IEI-EMF and thereby limiting the Commission’s ability to make an informed decision on the procedures to be used for accommodating such individuals during the hearings;

g.    granted cost awards of 100% to intervenors who supported B.C. Hydro’s application, whereas three intervenors who asked the Commission panel to consider broadening the scope of the hearings and opposed the intent of B.C. Hydro’s application were deducted 81.3%, 25.5% and 10% of their cost applications respectively.

In conclusion, in all the fifty-one years that I have been involved in politics and the nine years I have been an elected local government official, I have never felt so exasperated, demeaned and humiliated as I have while appearing before this Commission and in these panel hearings on smart meter installation. It culminated in the Commission’s declaration in the B.C. Hydro application that: because you chose to raise whether Direction 4 was constitutionally appropriate, because you chose to raise whether the health of certain customers was being protected, and because you chose to raise whether certain customers had smart meters installed on their property against their will, this panel deducts those hours that your research assistant spent making preparation for your submissions that raised those issues from the cost award.

Having read the British Columbia Pensioners and Seniors Organization submissions, it was simply shocking to learn afterwards that the panel had deducted 10% from their cost award submission for simply making representation that the scope of the Commission’s considerations should be expanded.

In the case of Area “D”, the requested reimbursement for secretarial, research, editorial and other support amounted to 92.25 hours at a nominal $20 per hour and was reduced 25.5% from a requested $1,805 to $1,344, the reason cited by the Commission being: deduction for time spent on the constitutionality of Direction No 4, issues related to the health of customers, and the involuntary imposition of smart meters on objecting customers, issues which I, as Director for Area “D”, raised simply as my constituents required of me under s.114 of the Utilities Commission Act, and as I had also done in the FortisBC hearings. The loss of the money, apart from being out of pocket, is immaterial when compared to the implications of the Commission panel’s actions.

I have never seen a more blatant attempt to subvert due process, and I cannot imagine how those lay people and customers who wrote in and attempted to participate feel about the manner in which the Commission has handled these hearings.

All of which is respectfully submitted,

Andy Shadrack
Director Area D
Regional District Central Kootenay

**************************

From: “Complaints BCUC:EX” <Complaints@bcuc.com>
To: “‘Andy Shadrack'” <ashadra@telus.net>
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 2014 09:58:06 -0700
Subject: Lack of Privacy and Due Process In Hearings

Dear Mr. Shadrack,

Thank you for your email to the BC Utilities Commission regarding your concerns about “…the lack of due process for persons suffering from and, being treated for, the medical condition known as Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance Attributed to Electromagnetic Fields (IEI-EMF).”

Oral hearing submissions and written submissions are documented on the public record to ensure all parties are able to review and have a fair opportunity to respond fully to the evidence.  Confidential information within a proceeding is handled in accordance with the Commission’s confidential filing practice directive.  These protocols can be found on our website: http://www.bcuc.com/Documents/MiscDocs/2007/DOC_16604_Confidential_Filings_Practice_Directive.pdf

If you have concerns about the Commission’s handling of information within a proceeding, please contact Commission Secretary, Erica Hamilton at 604 660 4700.

Thank you again for contacting the Commission.

Regards,

Patrick Wruck
Customer Service Specialist
British Columbia Utilities Commission
6th Floor, 900 Howe Street, Box 250
Vancouver, B.C.  V6Z 2N3
Website: www.bcuc.com
Phone: 604.660.4700 | Fax: 604.660.1102 | Toll Free: 1.800.663.1385

P Please consider the environment before printing this email.

The information being transmitted may contain confidential and/or privileged material and is intended only for the person or organization to which it is addressed. If you receive this e-mail in error, please delete the material from the receiving computer and contact the sender.

—–Original Message—–
From: Andy Shadrack [mailto:ashadra@telus.net]
Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2014 11:13 PM
To: Complaints BCUC:EX
Cc: electricity.regulatory.affairs@fortisbc.com; Subject: Lack of Privacy and Due Process In Hearings

Kaslo

Sunday, June 29th

Dear Mr Wruck:

I am writing you in your capacity as complaints officer for the B.C. Utilities Commission. Please consider this letter as a formal complaint concerning privacy issues and the lack of due process for persons suffering from and, being treated for, the medical condition known as Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance Attributed to Electromagnetic Fields (IEI-EMF).

As an elected official who has had to deal with constituents’ complaints surrounding medical issues with the Interior Health Authority and the BC Coroner’s Office, I believe, on reflection, that I have observed a total lack of due process, on the part of the B.C. Utilities Commission, at last spring’s oral hearings into FortisBC’s application concerning the proposed installation of smart meters with regard to utility customers suffering from IEI-EMF related illnesses.

In contrast to the requirement of the BC Utilities Commission that communications filed in writing and/or made through oral statements shall be public, both of which are then posted on the Utility Commission website, all other Health Authorities and agencies with which I am familiar and which deal with a person’s health and medical conditions, afford such persons basic privacy and confidentiality when it comes to personal details, such as medical diagnosis, history of treatment, etc.

The Commission, in fact, has actually afforded both BC Hydro and FortisBC far more privacy concerning their internal financial arrangements and contractual obligations than it has these customers – regarding what are obviously far more personal and often deeply private health issues.

At one point during the FortisBC oral hearing in Kelowna an obviously emotionally distressed customer of FortisBC came forward and tried to explain what she was experiencing medically, at which point, far from arranging an appropriate procedure and venue for her to be able to respectfully and comfortably discuss her issue with some modicum of privacy, the Commission Chair simply focused on trying to keep order.  Failure to accommodate and to protect the privacy of BC Hydro and FortisBC customers with medical issues related to exposure to wireless devices is wholly repugnant to me, and not what I expect from a duly created public Commission.

Unless I receive a communication in writing from the Commission within the next thirty days indicating suggestions for respectfully accommodating the privacy of persons suffering from IEI-EMF, or that it is prepared to sit down and discuss developing a mechanism to do so, I will be obliged to file a complaint with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC.

Respectfully submitted,
Andy Shadrack
Director Area D
Regional District Central Kootenay

Sharon Noble

Director, Coalition to Stop Smart Meters

“We will never have a perfect world, but it’s not romantic or naïve to work toward a better one.”

Steven Pinker (b. 1954), Award-winning, Canadian-born U.S. Intellectual and Scientist (Cognitive Psychology);

 

 

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