Campbell River homes are starting to receive notification letters that BC Hydro will be installing a smart meter despite a provincial petition circulating around town asking for a temporary ban on the controversial devices.
The petition, which 133 Campbell Riverites have signed so far, requests that a moratorium be placed on the wireless smart meters until “the major issues and problems identified…are independently assessed and until acceptable alternatives can be made available to the consumer at no additional cost.”
The petition acknowledges there is ongoing research into potential health and environmental effects related to radio frequency signals emitted from the smart meters. The document also alleges that BC Hydro is aware that the World Health Organization classified those radio frequency electromagnetic fields as a Class 2B – a possible human carcinogen. Several B.C. communities have taken the petition, which has spread throughout the province, to heart.
Currently 51 municipalities and counting have called for a moratorium on smart meters due to health, privacy and security concerns associated with the wireless devices. Those cities include Gold River, Nanaimo, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Burnaby, Vancouver, and Victoria.
Karle and Laurie Granlund, who own Granlund Firearms, want Campbell River to follow their lead.
“Given that BC Hydro will allow your information to be accessed online, the meters pose a significant security risk as hackers could easily get access to this information and determine when a house was vacant, thus when it would be easy to break in and steal,” write the Granlunds in a letter to city council. “(This is) a request for the city of Campbell River to join the growing movement to ask for a moratorium on the installation of smart meters.”
But time may be running out.
Letters from BC Hydro have already been sent to several Campbell River homes to notify residents that their smart meter will be installed roughly three weeks from when they received their letter. BC Hydro says meter installation can take place anytime Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. The exchange is expected to take less than 10 minutes and customers will experience a 60-second power interruption while Hydro removes the old meter and puts the smart meter in.
John Warn, head of the local coalition to stop smart meters, says he isn’t happy BC Hydro isn’t giving him any options when it comes to smart meters.
“We’re being forced to accept something in our homes that’s been classified as a Class 2B carcinogen – that scares me,” Warn says. “There is (also) a high risk of fires being started by smart meters.”
Warn also says smart meters have been reported to destroy appliances in homes, are a health threat because they run on Wi-fi, and invade people’s privacy.
BC Hydro says personal information is collected such as a person’s name, address and identity validation but that information is only used for billing purposes and is never given out to third parties. Further, the organization says the smart meters do report back to BC Hydro a home’s energy consumption but Hydro cannot detect how that power is being used.
“The Internet is a great place for information but not all of it is correct information,” says Ted Olynyk, spokesperson for BC Hydro. “There’s misinformation out there that BC Hydro will know who you have over for dinner, when you’re eating dinner…because of smart meters.”
As for health hazards, BC Hydro says the smart meters use a wireless signal to transmit power consumption three times a day and that radio frequency from a smart meter is equal to a 30-minute cell phone call.
Hydro also says the smart meters will help get the lights back on faster during a power outage because the devices indicate to BC Hydro when and where an outage occurs. The company also says smart meters will keep costs down for customers because they can see their daily energy use.
“The rates will go up but because of a hand-held device people can choose to have…you can see what your consumption is so you could make adjustments,” Olynyk said. “Consumers can save five to 15 per cent by making small adjustments.”