Sjeng Derkx is BC Green Party candidate for Nelson-Creston.

Green candidate opposes wireless smart meters

Sjeng Derkx thinks FortisBC should offer clients wired-in meters instead.

Nelson’s provincial Green Party candidate doesn’t want wireless smart meters installed in local homes.

Sjeng Derkx thinks the power company should opt for the wired-in meters instead.

“The health concerns of individuals about wireless smart meters are still a matter of debate in the scientific community so Greens only endorse the installation of hard wired smart meters that make use of existing electricity or telephone lines,” Derkx said in a press release.

In July, FortisBC filed an application with the BC Utilities Commission requesting approval to begin installing smart meters on homes and businesses in its service area. If the application is successful, meter exchanges would take place over a two year period beginning in 2014.

Derkx, along with Green Party energy critic Michael Jessen, successfully applied for intervener status to speak against the application at a BCUC community meeting in Trail on November 6, as well as at a hearing in Kelowna in February.

The Greens are also adding their voice to the call for a review of the BC Hydro smart meter program, something Nelson NDP MLA Michelle Mungall requested in the legislature last April.

“Nelson-Creston Greens are very concerned with the way BC Hydro was allowed to implement their smart meter program,” Jessen said, referring to the fact the Liberal government exempted BC Hydro from the BCUC adjudication process on smart meters. “The Green Party is calling for a moratorium on further smart meter installations by BC Hydro.”

Derkx echoed Jessen’s concern.

“Hydro’s smart meter program is costing $1 billion and no alternative uses for that money were considered,” Derkx said, “$1 billion would have funded free home energy retrofits for 50,000 low-income homeowners, for instance.”

Meanwhile, Nelson Hydro has nearly completed replacing 10,000 mechanical metres with digital meters that include a radio-read feature, but are not the same smart meters being installed by other utility companies. The new Nelson Hydro meters emit a 900 megahertz radio signal, while smart meters installed by BC Hydro emit a signal between 902 and 928 MHz.

In both cases, the signal strength is far less than safety limits set by Health Canada.

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