The Regional District of Central Kootenay has adopted a second resolution backing the rights of power consumers to decline smart meters.
While the board passed a motion in January asking FortisBC to give customers the chance to opt out of the controversial devices, East Shore director Garry Jackman says this one, voted on Thursday, broadens that request to include BC Hydro.
It states the board supports the right of any property owner to not have a smart meter “placed on their property without their express written permission, especially as it relates to health issues and concerns.”
However, before the debate began, administrator Jim Gustafson told the board he felt the issue was best administered by the BC Utilities Commission.
“I’m not sure the board has jurisdiction,” he said. “I urge the board to seek a legal opinion so we don’t compromise ourselves.”
Rural Samo director Hans Cunningham agreed the board ultimately has no control over the matter, but the motion was a “statement of intent and belief.”
“It’s the same as declaring ourselves a nuclear free zone. We can’t tell Fortis or any power company what to do, but it is a statement of belief.”
Chair John Kettle said he was concerned about the perception the resolution would leave.
“I’m not sure this is government at its best,” he said. “We provide taxpayers with services. I don’t know that they want us to be the Don Quixote of all causes.”
Kettle said the motion “may be represented in a negative context, or in a light you don’t want to be presented.”
Rural Kaslo director Andy Shadrack, who introduced the motion, said it was in response to BC Hydro preparing to install smart meters in his region in June.
He asked the company for an opt-out provision but was told there wouldn’t be one. He’s also concerned that unlike FortisBC, BC Hydro’s smart meter initiative is bypassing the utilities commission.
Shadrack said Hydro has been asked repeatedly to attend a meeting in his area to explain and justify the meters’ necessity, but has not done so.
The motion passed with Kettle and directors Lawrence Chernoff (Castlegar) and Greg Lay (Kaslo) opposed.
The earlier motion adopted in January came after a presentation from the local chapter of Citizens for Safe Technology, which is concerned about health effects of the meters, as well as safety and privacy.
However, FortisBC said its “advanced metering infrastructure” would have many benefits, including a more reliable grid, less wasted energy, and reduced theft.
The board stopped short of calling for a moratorium on the devices.