Letters: Extortion from hydro

Extra charge for keeping old analog meter viewed as extortion

BC Hydro is forcing our hands when they give us two choices in three lines. Either we as the ratepayers submit willingly to bullying tactics or pay extortion fees.

Extortion is defined as: 1. The crime of getting money from someone by the use of force or threats:  2. The act or practice of extorting especially money or other property; especially  the offense committed by an official engaging in such practice:   something extorted; especially :  a gross overcharge.

We’ve been given the following choices:

Smart meter – no cost (Which really means I gave in to the bullying/intimidation tactics employed by BC Hydro because I do not want my rates to go up);

Radio-off meter – set-up and monthly operating fees (Extortion rate: $100 initial setup + $20 monthly)

($100 + $240 per meter / first year = $340,000 per 1,000 customers who don’t want the smart meter radios);

Keep an old (analog/digital) meter – monthly operating fees (Extortion rate: $35 monthly)

($420 per meter / per year = $420,000 per 1,000 customers who decline smart meters).

Where is the defense of our rights as ratepayers/voters, isn’t this a public utility, if so, where is our right to decide? As our only choice for hydro, BC Hydro has an unfair advantage. In having that advantage they are imposing these extortion fees and forcing us to either switch to a smart meter or pay to keep our old meters.

Why isn’t BC Utilities Commission protecting the interests of ratepayers? I think it is because although they’re mandate is to protect the interests of ratepayers, they are also supposed to allow utility shareholders an opportunity to earn a fair return on their invested capital. The B.C. government is the only shareholder and the government passed the Clean Energy Act which exempted projects such as Site C, Northwest Transmission Line and smart meters from commission review. Because the government protected their self interest in 2010 when they exempted the smart meters from any form of control by the regulatory commission, it means the commission that is supposed to protect our interest has been restrained from doing what they were established to do, by the same body that benefits from the imposed restraints.

None of this seems legal to me, I feel there should be a criminal investigation into extortion, breach of trust, collusion and corruption of all of the players involved in this smart meter program and the whole BC Hydro scandal.

Stu James

 

Sooke