2014-07-25 Important questions re safety not being answered by BCUC

1) After a long, hard battle,  BC Hydro corrects billing error. How many others have been similarly over-charged??

http://www.thenownews.com/news/hydro-admits-bill-error-1.1256851

2) Below is a series of important letters between concerned members and the BCUC’s Patrick Wruck. Please read from the bottom and you will see questions being asked over and over about the safety of the $meters, with vital issues being raised. The responses are inadequate and are misleading. The agencies which are given as having tested these meters do not test for safety. BCUC is not doing its job and neither is it forcing BC Hydro to follow the regulations to ensure our safety.

3) More renters being penalized because manager is asking for meters to be safely installed and certified to be safe. With the history of fires, this seems to be a responsible and reasonable request.

http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/07/22/more-vancouver-renters-dinged-by-hydro

4) In Australia, “(….“Industry shouldn’t fear the rollout of smart meters in terms of profitability,” he said, noting the overall fall in consumption was only 1-2 per cent and energy ­regulators would still permit ­certain rates of return.)” and profit was $1.5 billion through time of use billing. So just we’ve seen elsewhere, there is no energy reduction (which the utilities don’t want) and rate increases through time of use (in the name of consumption) result in huge gains.

http://www.metering.com/smart-meters-australias-agl-presents-case-for-time-of-use-tariffs/

5) Warnings of security issues are increasing from many sources. Please send these articles to your MPs and MLAs. No one seems to be paying attention to what is a major concern – the existence of the utility grid itself.

http://blog.trendmicro.com/trendlabs-security-intelligence/smart-grid-attack-scenarios/

6) Letters sent to an Ontario MP about  high electricity bills due to $$meters. Ontario has time-of-use billing.
[Bills – Ontario] Brenda’s Smart Meter – Cheryl Gallant – July 22, 2014:
– http://cherylgallant.com/2014/07/22/brendas-smart-meter/
&
[Bills – Pembroke Ontario] Chantal’s Smart Meter – Cheryl Gallant – July 22, 2014:
– http://cherylgallant.com/2014/07/22/chantals-smart-meter/
&
[Bills – Ontario] linda’s Smart Meter – Cheryl Gallant – July 22, 2014:
– http://cherylgallant.com/2014/07/22/lindas-smart-meter/

7) An excellent article about the financial status of BC Hydro and the ridiculous contracts the Liberal government(s) have signed, and for which we will be paying for decades to come. I wonder what the cost would be to break these stupid IPP agreements – could it be cheaper in the long run? Especially when more people will be going off the grid, using less and less electricity.

– http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Opinion+Government+policy+responsible+high+power+costs+cost+power+shunned+Hydro+keep+clean/10060322/story.html

Letters:

Sent: July 24, 2014 12:29 PM
To: Complaints@bcuc.com; Commission.Secretary@bcuc.com; Patrick.Wruck@bcuc.com
Subject: Patrick Wruck’s 27th June 2014 written statement

Dear Commission,

I take strong exception Patrick Wruck’s 27th June 2014 written statement, which was obtained from correspondence with a member of the Public with permission:

Quote,

“BC Hydro’s meters meet all safety and reliability standards and are fully compliant with provincial, federal and international regulations and standards. As there is no evidence of a safety concern, Commission staff will not be investigating this matter further. ”

Unquote

What I object to is Mr. Wruck’s statement, without evidence of supporting documents.

From BCUC Web Site:

“As an administrative tribunal, the Commission has a responsibility to ensure procedural fairness in all activities.”

I have tried over the past year and more to obtain documented proof from BC Hydro and from the BCUC that the smart meter system meets the BC Safety Code as well as any Canadian Safety Regulations. Contrary to what many uninformed people state, the BC Safety Code is clear in the requirement for “A Utility” to provide certification of its electrical equipment by a Professional Engineer.

I have written to the following organizations:

  • British Columbia Utilities Commission, and
  • BC Hydro, and
  • BC Hydro Freedom of Information Officer, Scott MacDonald, and
  • Itron, and
  • Underwriter Laboratories, and
  • Canadian Standards Association, and
  • BC Privacy Commissioner, and
  • BC Safety Authority, and
  • Federal Communications Commission, and
  • The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia.

Unfortunately I have not been able to obtain any supporting documentation which demonstrates that the system being implemented by BC Hydro meets the minimum requirements of the BC Safety Code, or any Canadian Electrical Regulation or Standard and that the equipment has been certified by a Professional Engineer as is mandated by this BC Code.

BC Hydro stated on 31 January 2014 that they “have reviewed their files and found no records responsive to my request.”

Many of these organizations appear to deflect the responsibility back to the BCUC. On many occasions, the BCUC has stated that they are not allowed by Order-in-Councils to act. The responses from BC Hydro and Itron have been references to non-Canadian Standards that do not satisfy the BC Safety Code, and they have refused to provide data supporting compliance with BC Laws.

So why does Mr. Wruck make this statement, unless he has documented evidence?

Therefore I am requesting that Mr. Wruck immediately provide a copy of these BC Hydro/Itron documents that show “compliance with Provincial and Federal Regulations and Standards” without delay, and that this documentation provides specific details that show that BC Hydro and Itron meet the BC Safety Code Regulations as a minimum.

I am asking for specific references for each of the Canadian Standards and of the Canadian Regulations that Mr. Wruck quotes as the meter being “Compliant with” since I have failed to get BC Hydro and Itron to provide these data.

I look forward to an immediate and detailed written response,

Signed Mr. Y

From: “Complaints BCUC:EX” <Complaints@bcuc.com>

Subject: RE: BC Hydro Meter Replacement Notification

Date: July 21, 2014 at 3:11:13 PM PDT

Dear Mr. X

Thank you for your follow-up email to the BC Utilities Commission.  By way of an email dated June 25, 2014, a response to your complaint was provided.  Commission staff stated that your concerns have been investigated and no further action will be taken at this time.  As such, your file is now closed and no further correspondence will be provided to you regarding this matter.

Thank you 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
Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2014 1:54 PM
To: Complaints BCUC:EX
Subject: Re: BC Hydro Meter Replacement Notification

Mr. Wruck –

I’m not convinced BC Hydro’s electronic meters meet all safety and reliability standards as you claim.  I’ll respond more fully in this regard when I get a chance to go through the cited regulations and standards.  As well, with numerous obviously-electronic-meter-related fires having been reported in the media, it is beyond me how your or the BCUC can conclude ‘there is no evidence of a safety concern’.

That aside, I’d like to point out that even if electronic meters meet the various safety standards as you claim, that doesn’t mean the meters are safe.  In the rush to impose this new electronic technology on the citizens of BC it is entirely possible that one or more significant safety-related aspect fell through the cracks as the tried and true analog-oriented standards were modified to encompass the new technology.   In my opinion this is exactly what happened.   A classic example of this type of oversight occurred with the Comet airliner in the early ’50’s – thought by all to be completely safe when it was put into service because it had passed all the safety standards of the day with flying colours.  In case you don’t know the story, after about a year in service Comet airliners started falling out of the sky for reasons unknown, at great cost, and killing many people.  Following a lengthy investigation it was determined that the failures originated with a phenomenon about which little was known at the time – and certainly not covered in the regulations and safety tests – that of metal fatigue resulting from compression/decompression cycles as the planes repeatedly took off and landed.

Once again, in my opinion at least one unsafe practice – that of installing combustible electronic meters on meter bases designed, tested, and CSA approved for incombustible meters – made it through the modified safety regulations.  (I suspect there are more such unsafe practices that made it through, but one is enough to make my point.)   To give my belief more credibility, I have attached two photos – one of an electronic meter on fire (*), and the other of a BC Hydro analog meter installed on my CSA approved meter base.  Please note the close proximity of the analog meter to the bone dry cedar shingles on the side of my house.  It does not take much imagination to realize what would happen if I had allowed an electronic meter to be installed on my meter base and a fire similar to that in the news photo ensued.  It is beyond me how things got to the point where I have to pay $32.40 per month for freedom from this type of safety hazard!

In short, I don’t buy your ’these meters are safe because they comply with the regulations’ argument.  Furthermore, with its safety mandate, I believe it is BCUC’s responsibility to launch a full and immediate investigation into the fire/electrical safety of the electronic meters the government is so intent on imposing on the citizens of BC . . . one particular example being the installation of combustible meters on meter bases designed, tested, and approved for use with non-combustible meters.

This photo is from a news story

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/family-blames-new-smart-meter-sparking-fire-home/nSDKq/

– one of many similar photos available on the internet.  In my opinion the photo depicts just the kind of fire that results when 240 vac current flows to ground through burning/melting electronic components; ie – it hasn’t been faked.

Signed Mr. X

On Jun 25, 2014, at 12:55 PM, Complaints BCUC:EX <Complaints@bcuc.com> wrote:

Dear Mr. X

Thank you for your patience while Commissions staff investigated your concerns about the safety of BC Hydro’s digital display meters being installed in CSA approved meter bases.  BC Hydro confirmed that all of BC Hydro’s meters are safe to be installed in CSA approved meter bases.

BC Hydro’s meters meet all safety and reliability standards and are fully compliant with provincial, federal and international regulations and standards. More specifically, all meters are governed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).  Various ANSI standards address the safe compatibility and interoperability between all generations of meters and meter sockets

As there is no evidence of a safety concern, Commission staff will not be investigating this matter further.

Thank you 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

Thank you for the clarification.

The situation seems to be, in my opinion, that an unsafe practice – that of installing combustible electronic meters on meter bases designed, tested, and CSA approved for incombustible meters – somehow became imbedded in the Tariff, thereby legitimizing the unsafe practice in the eyes of the law and the utility.  My concerns are explained in the third paragraph of the letter I just sent BC Hydro, copied below.  I understand safety is part of the BCUC mandate.  May I have your assurances the BCUC will investigate this possible conflict between safety and the law and report back to me?   Signed.

Mr. X

Mr. Greg Reimer                                                                              June 10, 2014
VP – Transmission and Distribution
BC Hydro – Meter Choices
PO Box 9530 Stn. Terminal
Vancouver BC, V6B 4G8

greg.reimer@bchydro.com

Re:   – Accounts # . . . .  and # . . . .
– My correspondence of May 9, 2014
– BC Hydro correspondence of May 28 and 30, 2014

Dear Mr. Reimer,

Thank you for providing the seal expiry dates I requested for the two analog meters on my property.   I can now agree my two analog meters need to be replaced and would like to proceed with the replacement as soon as possible . . . but subject to resolution of the following:

In your May 28 letter you say I don’t need to be home when the meter exchanges take place.  This tells me that BC Hydro considers swapping meters without the power being turned off is a safe practice.   My own belief is that this is an unsafe practice, and as well one that is in contravention of my meter-bases’ CSA certification.

In your May 28 letter you tell me the replacement meters will have either a digital display or an analog display.  This tells me BC Hydro still thinks it’s ok to put electronic meters on the side of my house, even though I wrote on May 9 saying I wouldn’t accept one . . . I would accept analog meters only.  My own beliefs in this regard are, aside from this being a very disrespectful reply on BC Hydro’s part, that installing combustible and non-CSA-approved electronic meters on my meter bases – which have been designed, tested, and CSA approved for use with incombustible meters – is an unsafe practice.  I further believe that doing so will annul my meter bases’ CSA certification, and – should a fire traceable to the electronic-meter/meter-base combination occur – give my insurance company a reason not to reimburse me for fire-related damages.

Clearly this is a no-win situation the way it is.  Short of me posting a 24-hour guard on my meters and risking failed installation charges, to me the answer lies in you giving me your assurances that when the installer arrives he/she will be installing only analog meters in good condition, and that I will be given at least 24 hours notice in advance of his/her arrival so someone can be there to provide access and turn off the power while the replacements take place.

If you can provide these two assurances then great – please do so and let’s get on with the exchange.  If you can’t I look forward to your recommendation as to how we should proceed.

Sincerely,

Mr. X

Sharon Noble

Director, Coalition to Stop Smart Meters

 

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