Letter: Hydro responds

Smart meter rationale explained by BC Hydro project officer

Re: “Clarification on smart meters,” Sooke News Mirror, Sep 12.

Smart meters communicate using radio frequency signals that are similar to what has been used for decades in televisions, radios and other common household devices. B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, Health Canada and the World Health Organization all confirm the wireless meters pose no known health risks.

Planetworks Consulting, a certified engineering firm located in North Vancouver, has conducted independent testing on the meters that isolated the smart meter from other sources of radio frequency common to our everyday lives. The testing confirmed that a BC Hydro smart meter communicates for about 1.4 seconds per day and has a power density of 2 microwatts per square centimeter. These results have been signed, sealed and certified by a professional engineer.

These signals are far below Canadian guidelines and are even below the strictest precautionary limits in the world, set out by Switzerland.

We investigate every customer billing complaint thoroughly. In the vast majority of cases – over 99 per cent – we are able to sort it out by looking at the customer’s consumption history. In some cases, we make mistakes such as data inputting errors and inaccurate bill estimates. Once the new smarter system is in place these problems will be eliminated as there will be no more routinely estimated bills or manual meter misreads.

The accuracy of our meters is also overseen by Measurement Canada, a federal consumer protection agency.

Further, we are responsible for ensuring the safety of all our electrical grid equipment, including meters. We are accountable to the BC Safety Authority and all meters are regulated by the American National Standards Institute, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the International Electrotechnical Commission.

Smart meters are an important part of upgrading and modernizing the electricity grid which delivers power to almost 1.9 million customers and supports our economy. They will also get the lights back on faster during power outages and provide customers with tools to conserve energy and save money.

Upgrading the electrical metering system and grid will deliver $1.6 billion in savings to British Columbians over the next 20 years and help keep our rates among the lowest in North America.

Gary Murphy

Chief Project Officer, Smart Metering and Infrastructure

BC Hydro