Sharon Noble of the group Coalition to Stop Smart Meters.

Smart meter holdout fees get interim approval

Regulators still to consider BC Hydro's rationale for extra charges to opt out

Opponents of wireless smart meters are vowing to continue their fight against BC Hydro after the B.C. Utilities Commission granted interim approval of extra fees that will be charged to holdouts.

Regulators have set out a three-month process to consider the grounds for the fees, which the province has mandated by cabinet order to recoup millions of dollars in extra costs to accommodate customers who opt not to have a wireless meter.

The utilities commission can’t scrap the fees, but it could decide they’re too high and order Hydro to lower them and refund the difference.

Sharon Noble of the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters said opponents have registered for intervenor status and will urge the commission to delay implementation of the fees while a class action lawsuit against Hydro is before the courts.

“They want to get the fees in place so people feel the pinch as soon as possible and stop resisting,” Noble said, calling it a strategy to break the planned legal challenge.

She said it’s “unconscionable” for the fees to go ahead before opponents get their day in court.

“This is just one more way of intimidating people,” Noble said. “I’m getting 300 emails a day from people who are furious and can’t afford this.”

About 60,000 households that have refused wireless smart meters have been notified of the pending fees.

They’ll pay $35 a month extra starting Dec. 1 if they opt to keep their mechanical meter or if they fail to make a choice, as it’s the default option.

They can instead choose a smart meter with the radio transmitter disabled for a $100 setup fee plus $20 a month for manual readings, starting in April.

The only way to avoid paying more is to agree to take a smart meter.

Holdouts who keep their old meter or go transmitter off but who later move to a new home that already has a wireless smart meter will be able to get its transmitter turned off for a further $155 one-time fee.

Also approved is a “failed installation” fee effective Oct. 25 that charges customers $65 each time technicians are turned away or obstructed from accessing a household’s meter.

That’s based on a cost of $55 for the technician’s visit and $10 for answering an estimated five-minute call to Hydro’s call centre.

Hydro’s application for the monthly fees spells out a range of associated costs, including staff, vehicles and equipment for manual meter readings, changes to smart grid software and hardware, and the cost of extra checks with specialized meters to detect power theft in areas with analog meters.

Opponents say the proposed fees are exorbitant and out of line with opt-out options offered by other North American power utilities that have moved to smart meters.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Father on trial for murder describes being ‘tackled’ and ‘stabbed’ in Oak Bay apartment

Oak Bay father takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

Province rejects criticism from Saanich councillor over McKenzie Interchange

Transportation ministry says project will ‘significantly lower’ greenhouse gas emissions

Police rule out foul play in death of man found in Saanich

The B.C. Coroners Service will now conduct an investigation

West Shore RCMP snag suspected thief with bait bike

GPS-equipped bike leads police to arrest suspect in Langford

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Aug. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should there be a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers?

We’ve all heard them, and most likely cursed them under our breath.… Continue reading

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

Most Read