2014-08-07 A 9th incident in Saskatchewan

1) A member has sent an important email which is below in “letters” about harassment. We should all be lodging complaints to the Ombudsperson about the way we’re being treated – about threats to disconnect for not paying a fee for a service that others do not pay for!! This is illegal discrimination. And people on equal payment plans are hit harder than all of us – one meter reading a year, potentially, yet full legacy fee payments, and a “surprise” at the end of the year. Why are people being harassed when others with smart meters that are being read manually are not paying a fee?

Please go to https://www.ombudsman.bc.ca/how-to-make-a-complaint Who knows, perhaps something might be done.

2) Another good replacement story. This installer got the message about the member wanting an appointment and called yesterday and came today:

We now have a GE I-70-S model analogue meter, manufactured in 1991. I know from one of the links you sent out about types of meters that could be converted to a smartmeter that this meter does in fact not have any electrical circuits inside, and is a purely mechanical meter. We are very relieved to know this. And for that we are very grateful. Our technician,Kendall, was a younger man, who was polite, though very wary and guarded in his interactions. When he showed me the meter, it was covered on the outside of the glass with green/blue mold….what is it with that?? When I asked about others he said all the other analogue meters he had were from the 1980’s. So we opted for the “newer” 1991 meter. He did let me clean it off before mounting it. He did say the base plate was in good condition, with no fractures.

My stress level around this can even out for a while now.

 3) A 9th incident in Sask. on Tuesday (no fire). Smeters are being removed already, and it sounds as if serious deliberation will be done before another program is begun. That’s a responsible government.

http://www.cjme.com/story/smart-meter-removal-underway-sask/401266

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/saskpower-ceo-apologizes-for-smart-meters-1.2728833

A CEO apologizing!!

4) A few letters getting into papers  but still not as many as there should be. Please, keep writing & call your editor and ask why none are making it.

http://www.prpeak.com/articles/2014/08/06/opinion/doc53e17fe44c773890008246.txt

http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/letters/b-c-should-follow-saskatchewan-s-example-1.1295277

http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/letters/puzzling-attitude-about-smart-meters-1.1296717

Letters:

Just to let you know, I have heard of someone receiving a disconnection notice because of a past due payment.  Have you heard of others getting this notice?

I personally have not received a disconnection notice yet but I have received several “payment required” notices as I have not been paying the legacy charges.

I finally got a call from the office of the Ombudsperson and have recently been in contact with the investigator who is still undecided whether to undertake a full investigation of my complaint.  I get the feeling that a full investigation will not be undertaken, and one thing that the investigator says is missing, is complaints from other people.  So basically, they are guided in part by public pressure so if more people complain to them about threats from Hydro, the more impetus they have to move forward with a case.

My view is that Hydro should never threaten or be allowed to threaten disconnection under any circumstances.  Do you feel the same?  My reasoning is that threats of disconnection is a form of harassment under section 264 of the criminal code, and possibly under the human rights code.  It obviously violates Hydro’s own code of conduct.  Electricity has become a necessity to function in today’s society. We have come to rely on electric power for heating, cooling, refrigeration, cooking, lighting, communications and many other devices and appliances.  It is surely psychologically harmful to be threatened with disconnection of electric power to one’s home.

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264. Criminal harassment

  1. (1) No person shall, without lawful authority and knowing that another person is harassed or recklessly as to whether the other person is harassed, engage in conduct referred to in subsection (2) that causes that other person reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them.

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I found this from Stats Canada;  http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-005-x/2011001/article/11407-eng.htm

Criminal harassment, commonly referred to as stalking, refers to repeated conduct that is carried out over a period of time that causes victims to reasonably fear for their safety (Department of Justice, 2004). Examples of criminal harassment include repeatedly following or communicating with another person; repeatedly watching someone’s house or workplace; or directly threatening another person or member of their family causing a person to fear for their safety or for the safety of someone known to them.1 While criminal harassment legislation was introduced in 1993 in response to violence against women, the law applies equally to all victims. The goal of the legislation is to identify and respond to criminal harassment before it escalates into serious physical harm to victims and to prohibit deliberate conduct that is psychologically harmful to others in causing them to fear for their safety (Department of Justice, 2004).

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And this interesting statistic as well (note the commercial or corporate areas); http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cj-jp/fv-vf/har/part1.html

Most targets of criminal harassment (69%) were harassed in their own home or at another residence, such as a friend’s home; 16% of victims were harassed in commercial or corporate areas; 11% at outdoor public locations, such as on the street or in a parking lot; and 4% at schools or universities.[10]

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In BC, the Electric Tariff Act allows Hydro to basically cut power to any customer at the drop of a hat, without any procedure or conditions.  Hydro has said publicly that multiple attempts will be made to collect payment before issuing a disconnect notice, but nowhere is this spelled out in the Act.

2.3.  Refusal to Provide Service and Discontinuance of Service

BC Hydro may refuse to provide service or may discontinue without notice service to any Customer who:

  1. failed to pay for service at any or all Premises

There is no protection, in the Electric Tariff for customers from BC Hydro’s intentions to disconnect power.  Interestingly, Hydro Quebec and Manitoba Hydro have definite procedures in place and very specific conditions under which power can and cannot be disconnected, such as in the colder months.  Manitoba Hydro must have one of the strongest policies in Canada to regulate the disconnection of service to customers.  There are many other requirements the Manitoba utilities must adhere to before service disconnection, such as contacting social service agencies and taking legal action.  Regular reports of disconnection must be filed with the Public Utilities Board.  Customers can also appeal to the PUB if they have a dispute with the utility.  But, even though Manitobans have it much better than us in BC, Manitobans can still be threatened with disconnection, which is against the law.

If a utility has an overdue account, then collection action involving the customer, or social agencies or legal action should be the only recourse.  Not service disconnection.

https://www.hydro.mb.ca/regulatory_affairs/energy_rates/natural_gas/disconnect_reconnect_policy.pdf

Sharon Noble

Director, Coalition to Stop Smart Meters

 

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