2016-03-15 An excellent suggestion for response to BC Hydro

1) For those wondering how to respond to BC Hydro’s latest assault – replacing analogs with radio-offs saying they have no more analogs in stock(!) – here’s what a member advises:

I’d send an email to BCH CEO Jessica McDonald <jessica.macdonald@bchydro.com>, with a copy to whoever sent you the notice and the BCUC <commission.secretary@bcuc.com> as a minimum, saying your meter base (which is owned by you and 100% your responsibility) isn’t CSA certified for combustible electronic meters (a true statement . . . combustible meters weren’t even invented when your meter base was certified safe by CSA ) and that you will accept a combustible electronic meter only upon receipt of a letter signed by a BC Hydro professional engineer saying that doing so is a safe practice and that, should any fire damage occur as a result, BC Hydro will assume full responsibility. That should at least buy you a bit of time and/or a new analog meter . . . time enough, hopefully, for the BCUC to complete the safety study it’s presently engaged in (at long last), come to the conclusion these things aren’t safe (or accurate or economic or long-lived or lots of other things) and ordering BCH to bring back analogs.

If you go this route, make sure in your email to say a written copy is in the mail and then make sure to send the written copy, most strongly for you by registered mail. That way you’re on (the legal) record and they’ll have no way of denying your requirements.

Jessica McDonald, CEO
BC Hydro
333 Dunsmuir Street, 17th Floor
Vancouver, B.C. V6B 5R3

Copies to:
Bill Bennett <
MEM.minister@gov.bc.ca>
Adrian Dix <
Adrian.Dix.MLA@leg.bc.ca> good too.

2) A member sent in a YouTube from last April in which Mr. Dix was asking good questions and Bennett answered not one of them. Typical. And, as far as I know, Mr. Dix has not pursued these questions, although if I recall correctly he said he would.

There are about 50,000 customers (according to BC Hydro) whose smart meters are being read manually without additional charge. Yes, we are subsidizing, unfairly. When I asked Hydro about this, they said that they weren’t charging the customers because they had agreed to take the smeter. So, in other words, our fees are punitive.

I think more important is the fire issue, which Mr. Dix refuses to address. Why are these faulty devices with proven and acknowledged design flaws allowed to remain on our homes? Why are they not being recalled with ITRON refunding all costs, to us for the program and for our legacy fees? Neither is he addressing the misrepresentation in the business case where BC Hydro used a 20 year life span for amortization of expenses; we knew then that 20 years was overstated, and now we know it’s closer to 5-7 years. Why is he silent on this?

The BCUC was given “costs” for opt outs by BC Hydro. Hydro “justified” the costs, but who knows how they loaded their estimates. Mr. Dix was right that BC Hydro made its estimate based on fewer people keeping their legacy. Hydro said if the number of people increased, the cost per customer would be reduced. This is something Bennett never answered. I guess the question to Dix and Bennett is why hasn’t this reduction occurred, and why hasn’t BCUC made it occur?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3L8_J79DfU

3) The incidence of brain tumours is increasing in many countries but, unfortunately, it seems that no agency in Canada or the USA is tracking this information.

“She said that as well as a phone and TV mast on the fell near their house where Stu had lived all his life, her son even slept with a mobile phone under his pillow during the lambing season….

Brain tumours are on the rise and she added: “There were 30 new cases in the North East and the Lake District in June alone.

“And there have been five brain tumour cases within three and a half miles of the TV mast on the fell.

4) Some good advice about a safer way of using a computer, specifically a laptop. Having an external keyboard and a separate monitor screen, you can increase your distance from the laptop significantly. Also, by having a larger monitor screen, the distance between you and the screen can be increased. Also, always use a wired mouse.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykj6RvAHxmM

 

Letters:

Mr. Daren Sanders
Senior Manager, Customer Service Operations
BC Hydro
Box 8910
Vancouver, BC, V6B 4X3
<smartmeters@BCHydro.com>Cc. BCUC<commission.secretary@bcuc.com>
Honourable Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy & Mines
<bill.bennett.mla@leg.bc.ca>
MLA Adrian Dix, Opposition Critic
<adrian.dix.mla@leg.bc.ca>
re: Account ######

March 15, 2016

Hello Mr. Sanders,

We recently received a notice of BC Hydro’s intentions to remove our analog meter and to replace it with a radio-off smart meter.

I called BC Hydro on Friday to explain my concerns, and was only directed to send a letter to you after making the request for an address several times. It is noteworthy that your letter to us does not have a return address or e-mail contact.

We are copying this note to the BCUC as it is mandated as an independent authority with powers to review BC Hydro’s activities and to recommend changes that would ensure the public’s interest is addressed. We have also taken the liberty to provide a copy to the Minister and Opposition critic as they address such matters in the Legislature and have responsibility to amend regulations accordingly.

I would also ask that you forgive the length of this letter. Although we are only touching on the main concerns we have I did want to explain the reasons and rationale for our decision not to have our analog meter replaced with a radio-off smart meter.

I would first note your letter’s short notice and vague reference to the expiry date on our analog meter. This runs at odds with BC Hydro’s messaging of being open and informative. We should be given an opportunity to consider your intentions, and to do research into the proposed action you deem necessary, as well as to ask questions and raise concerns. It appears that BC Hydro simply wants to conduct its affairs without consideration of the customers and individuals it is serving.

This is a concern since we are fine with another analog meter replacing our present analog meter – but not with replacement of the smart meter (radio-off) that is being proposed.

Through the Meter Choices Program we have been paying for an analog meter, with the understanding that we could do so for as long as we wished – and not be required to have a smart meter. We do not miss our bill payments, do not otherwise pose problems to BC Hydro, and as loyal customers believe we deserve some consideration.

In this circumstance however the unconditional terms with which BC Hydro is asserting its demands would suggest that it is attempting to impose its authority without consultation or consideration of personal circumstance. We believe such behaviour is not acceptable in a democratic society, and so must inform you that we do not accept such a course of action as you propose.

Information provided by a press release from the BC government, Minister Coleman, noted that, ‘BC Hydro will not install a new meter without the homeowner’s consent’.

“Individual home owners who had not yet had a smart meter installed on their home, would not have to have one …You will not be ‘forced’ into having one or be in fear of it being installed when you are not home.”

It is then BC Hydro’s responsibility to follow the directions of the BC government, and allow us the right to continue to have the option to retain an analog meter.

As I explained to the BC Hydro employee on Friday I have just taken a three-month leave of absence from my work, and I am undergoing and awaiting medical tests to determine whether I am electro-sensitive and vulnerable to such radio frequencies as a smart meter receives and transmits (radio off or on).

There are ample numbers of studies raising concerns particular to electro-magnetic fields and the development of cancer and other afflictions – sufficient that consideration of the potential cannot be ruled out when it comes to personal health challenges. For reasons of my health, as well as the future costs that such ill-health may impose upon the medical system, we will not give our permission for our analog meter to be exchanged with a smart meter (radio off/on).

Unfortunately, raising my health concerns to the BC Hydro employee that I spoke with on Friday resulted in a troublesome dialogue, your employee insisting that ‘BC Hydro will not stop the meter exchange …even if the person believes their health is at risk …we are not delaying the meter exchange.”

Eventually your employee did agree to record my request, that we are refusing to provide our permission for a radio-off smart meter to replace our analog meter. However, she insisted that an installer would still come to our property and attempt to install a radio-off smart meter, at an unknown date in the future. From what little I could understand, since she seemed reluctant to explain, it seems that BC Hydro is required to send an installer to our house in order to be able to claim the $65 refusal fee that is to be levied.

This insistence of sending an installer, despite being notified that we have refused permission for a radio-off smart meter exchange, can only be seen as a dishonest and deceptive exercise, perpetrated solely for the benefit and interest of BC Hydro. It is also a rather blatant attempt to disregard and to over-ride the promise of the BC government, Minister Coleman as noted above, that we would not be forced to accept a smart meter (radio off or on).

We are then put in the position of BC Hydro insisting that it will attempt to install a smart meter (radio-off) without our permission – which is wholly unacceptable given the medical concerns I have just noted.

We are however willing to acknowledge BC Hydro’s assertion that our current analog meter’s certification may be expiring, and we will provide unrestricted access to our meter for an exchange – with another analog meter. It is our understanding that other BC customers have had such an exchange made with another analog meter within the last month, and so we do not believe we are being unreasonable in our request to similarly request an analog meter replacement.

We do have concerns with access to our property however. This pertains to our income as registered CKC breeders, and the protection of our six purebred collies who run at-large on our fenced-in property. We have two gates leading to the road, and need to control our dogs or place them inside before anyone is allowed onto the property. We already have an arrangement in place with BC Hydro, to have the meter reader call and confirm that our dogs are safe before she comes onto our property. This agreement was granted by BC Hydro after a previous meter reader left the gates open and our dogs were left to wander onto the road.

Should BC Hydro wish to make an appointment to replace our analog meter with a re-serviced, re-sealed and re-certified analog meter (with a minimum ten year warranty) we are therefore requesting an appointment with an installer so that we will be able to ensure that our dogs are under our control and in a safe location.

At such a time we will then also be available to turn off the power in our home, to prevent any potential damage that might be incurred when the BC Hydro installer exchanges the analog meters.

We need to also note additional concerns we have about the increased risk of fire, which has resulted in other state and provincial governments recalling smart meters.

Our understanding is that inadequate safety certification standards for smart meters can lead to a fire due to smart meters not fitting correctly into the meter bases which were designed for analog meters – the blades being thinner, which leads to arcing, which leads to fire. BC Hydro’s claim that there is no evidence of fires resulting from smart meters comes in part as a result of BC Hydro removing meters where fires have occurred, before they could be examined by officials and investigators.

Our meter is exposed and the potential of moisture affecting the lithium metal battery is therefore heightened. And, living in a rural area, with woods and fields all around, with severe drought conditions over the summer and limited fire protection, we believe the fire threat posed by the smart meters (radio on or off) is not acceptable. We have made very significant investments in our farm and future livelihood, and cannot see it put at risk by introducing unacceptable fire hazards.

Another concern, no less valid, comes from having worked for Members of Parliament in Ottawa on the matter of Privacy. We need to register our concern and opposition to BC Hydro, or any other body it chooses to share such information with, having access to our energy consumption information. We believe BC Hydro is acting in a manner that is contrary to and at odds with the Canadian Charter of Rights. We do not willingly forego such rights.

And finally, we need to specifically address BC Hydro’s stated intention to replace our analog meter with a smart meter (radio-off).

We believe that BC Hydro has acted irresponsibly, in a manner that can be characterized as intentionally misinformative, and which some would suggest with malice and forethought. This is evident in having replaced our previous analog meter less than two years ago with an analog meter that we are now being told is soon to reach its expiry date. Common law and accepted business practices would normally require such a short product lifespan to be made aware to the consumer, with replacement of the defective or unusually short lifespan product to be at the company’s expense.

When our original analog meter was exchanged for the present analog meter it was our understanding that the replacement was “reconditioned, re-sealed and re-certified.”

Trusting in BC Hydro and the BC government’s promise we fully expected that there would be at least ten years left in the life of the re-serviced, re-sealed and re-certified analog meter that we thought we were provided. If we had been informed otherwise beforehand then we would not have accepted an analog meter that was not re-serviced, re-sealed and re-certified with less than two years remaining in it’s ‘lifespan’. Explicitly accepting such a costly charade that results in a consequence that we have paid to avoid would be a foolish decision, contrary to our health and best interests.

We believe we have the right to expect that BC Hydro will not act in a manner that reinforces the tenets of caveat emptor, that defects in the good or service may be hidden from the buyer, and only known to the seller. As you know the premise suggests many business practices are predatory and developed to take advantage of an unsuspecting public. This appears however to be the intention and operating principles driving BC Hydro’s practice and policy in this instance.

It seems nonsensical to have to say it, but if we had wanted a “radio-off” smart meter we would have made that choice initially, and saved money in doing so.

In my discussion with BC Hydro’s employee of last Friday it was suggested that BC Hydro had only estimated that 5000 homes would choose not to have a smart meter, and so BC Hydro made a decision to only keep that number of analog meters available for replacement.

However, it is our understanding that there has been triple that number of BC households refusing to have smart meters installed. BC Hydro, if it is to reflect the promises of the BC government (Mr Coleman, as noted), should be required to have such replacement analog meters available. When BC Hydro had the chance they could have stopped discarding the analog meters they removed from houses, and increased the “batch” certification of analog meters appropriately – so that exchanges were available for analog meters, as promised by the BC government. BC Hydro could in fact still make arrangements to obtain replacement analog meters from other jurisdictions, but appear unwilling to do so.

Instead BC Hydro has apparently ‘rigged the game’ so that when the seals expire on analog meters, as ours apparently has, the meters must be removed from service. And, as they do now, BC Hydro can then tell us that they have no more analog meters for replacements. For all intents and purposes this is a patently dishonest attempt to mislead and to manipulate homeowners. BC Hydro should be required to obtain certified analog meters to make up the difference for those householders who have chosen to opt-out, as the BC government promised they would be able to do.

We are then requesting that, should it be necessary to replace our analog meter, that it only be replaced with another analog meter. In such circumstance we will need to be notified and the exchange undertaken in our presence. We do not give permission for a smart meter to be installed (radio-off or on), and believe it is BC Hydro’s responsibility to provide another analog meter with a minimum ten-year lifespan, to be provided as per the BC government’s promise.

Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
X



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)