Letter: Once-a-year reading of analog meters a fair system

Monday, August 19 2013

I am writing to add my concerns to the smart meter debate. I am one of BC Hydro’s customers who would like to retain the original meter.

Last week I spoke with a BC Hydro representative who was offering me my “last chance” to have a smart meter installed for free. I asked him how much the fees are going to be for those who choose to keep the old meter. He told me this hasn’t been determined yet. Obviously, I will be forced to choose the smart meter if the fees are too high and I need to know what they are before I choose. I feel that I am being pressured into making a choice about the smart meter before I am informed of the full impact of the options. I wish I could opt out entirely but as electricity is essential to my lifestyle and there is no competition in this industry, this is not really an option. 

During my conversation with BC Hydro I mentioned that I have an idea for a fair fee system for those retaining the old meters. I was rather rudely cut off and told BC Hydro is not soliciting input from the public on the matter. 

I would like to share my idea here because I believe it’s an acceptable compromise. My idea is this: BC Hydro could determine a yearly rate for each household based on the previous year’s bills, then charge a monthly amount based on an equal-payment plan. I know this can easily be done. At year’s end the meter could be read and the equal payment adjusted accordingly. A fee could be charged for the once-a-year reading, a fee that reflects the cost of the reader’s time. I would happily pay this fee to keep my old meter.

I am not happy about the way the BC government has allowed BC Hydro to force smart meters on the population, despite the fact that people were already concerned about wireless radiation in the environment. Now that the BC Utilities Commission is going to be reviewing the fees charged for reading old meters I am hopeful that a reasonable compromise can be made. If the fees are allowed to be unreasonably high, then the perception is we are being punished for trying to maintain a healthy home environment.

~ Emily Macomber