Smart meter panel didn’t listen

This story neglected to mention a critical element regarding the BC Utilities Commission’s blessing of Fortis’ application.

Re: “Fortis gets approval for smart meters,” July 31

This story neglected to mention a critical element regarding the BC Utilities Commission’s blessing of Fortis’ application.

The BCUC says on page 48 of its 213 page decision:

“The Panel finds it difficult to reconcile FortisBC’s plan of communication, education and ultimate disconnection with the strongly held and passionately articulated views of a number of its customers opposed to wireless advanced meters. The Panel finds that FortisBC has not adequately considered this risk. This risk must be mitigated for the Project to proceed.”

This was precisely one of the arguments presented in the December 7, 2012 submission by the Nelson-Creston Green Party Constituency Association and we are pleased the commission panel backed us up on that issue.

The risk will be mitigated by allowing any Fortis customer to opt out of having a wireless smart meter installed, although that customer will be charged for meter reading.

The Nelson-Creston Green Party said in its submission that choice is one of the defining characteristics of a democracy and advocated that those not wishing a smart meter be allowed to opt out at no cost. We recommended the BCUC could proposed conditions similar to Vermont state legislature bill S.214 signed into law in May 2012 which “allows a customer to choose not to have a wireless smart meter installed, at no additional monthly or other charge” and “allows a customer to require removal of a previously installed wireless smart meter for any reason and at an agreed-upon time, without incurring any charge for such removal”.

We are saddened the commission panel did not listen to us with regard to the no-cost, opt-out issue and remain convinced the panel made a grievious error in judgement.

Michael Jessen

Intervenor on behalf of the Nelson Creston Green Party Constituency Association