A North Vancouver man is contemplating a winter without heat as B.C. Hydro warns his power will be disconnected if he doesn’t get a smart meter installed by the last week of October.
B.C. Hydro had earlier threatened to disconnect Howie Harrington’s power on October 7 because of his refusal to have a smart meter installed. Now, they have extended the deadline by another three weeks.
“I am finding that I am not going to win, but I want to get my point across that I don’t want smart meters. I have spent the last five year fighting B.C. Hydro over this, and I am not going to let them walk right over me,” he said.
Harrington is one of thousands of customers who have refused to install smart meters because of health and safety reasons. He says the radiation emitted by the smart meters have a negative impact on the health. He also calls the smart meter an invasion of privacy. “It is reading everything in your house, and that is an invasion of privacy.”
Herrington lives with his wife in a home near the Murdo Frazer golf course, just above the Pemberton Heights neighbourhood. He refused to get a smart meters installed in 2013 when BC Hydro first started replacing the so-called legacy meters. While the company allowed him to keep the meter, they told him he was going to be charged $35 extra every month for retaining the legacy meter.
In the last five years, he has paid $2,041. 20 just so he can retain the old meter. But in December 2018, he received his first notice to change the meter from the legacy to the smart meter. He was given the option of getting a smart meter with the radio turned off to allay his fears about privacy. He refused and last month received a final disconnection notice stating that his power would be disconnected, and there would be $700 reconnection charge to install a smart meter.
When B.C. Hydro started installing smart meters in 2013, people who opposed them were allowed to keep the old analog meters as long as the measurement seal was valid, which lasts for a decade. Disconnecting power is a last resort, BC Hydro says, and customers are often made aware well in advance about the seal being expired and the need for a new meter.
“We provide a number of letters and phone calls over many months to customers that have meters with expired seals to advise them of the need to exchange the meter and the potential for disconnection prior to attempting the meter exchange,” said BC Hydro.
BC Hydro has installed 1.93 million smart meters since 2011, and more than 99 per cent of the customers have a new meter, the agency says. It also insists the smart meters don’t pose a health risk.
“Just like your FM radio, television and cell phone, our meters communicate using radio signals. Health Canada has set a limit for exposure to radio frequency in their Safety Code 6 guideline and our meters operate well within the limit,” BC Hydro says.
Last month, BC Hydro disconnected old analog meters of a couple in Shuswap who refused new smart meters.
Howie says him and his wife are really stressed about the possibility of not having any power.
“B.C. Hydro is a Crown Corporation owned by the people of B.C. This harassment is unjust and uncalled for. I always paid my bills, and now we are stressed about surviving a winter without power. This isn’t fair to the little guy,” he said.