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

Hospital apologizes for veteran’s five-day hallway stay

Clinical director of VGH says case of retired 77-year-old veteran ‘definitely excessive’

Colwood applies for $325k to replace stairs in Latoria Creek Park

More than 200 residents sign petition to support grant application

Sooke takes a step toward Lot A plan

Final proposal anticipated for the end of February

Greater Victoria rugby players named to national Hall of Fame

Former Canada captains, Oak Bay’s Mark Wyatt and Victoria’s Hans De Goede to inducted this spring

What to know before you tow: Langford bylaw weighs in

Officials don’t recommend personal towing, like viral video viewed 42,000 times and counting

Canada’s archive buys rare book that hints at Nazi plans for North America

The 1944 book may have served as a blueprint for a Nazi purge

Teravainen’s 3 points lift Hurricanes to 5-2 win over Canucks

Vancouver heads into all-star break on losing note

UPDATE: Trees affecting travel at Comox Airport have been trimmed

Some YQQ flights have been rerouted or cancelled due to some trees impacting the safety margins

47 men arrested by Vancouver police for allegedly seeking sex with teenage girls

Seven of those arrested have been charged as part of a two-month operation

Speaker Darryl Plecas says ‘justice’ needed for legislature employees

Plecas spoke to media at the opening of a pedestrian and cycling bridge in Abbotsford Wednesday

Advocate hopes B.C. legislature scandal leads to more transparency

‘Depressing’ that it takes a scandal to inspire freedom of information reform, says Sara Neuert

‘Dr. Lipjob’ avoids jail, gets 30-day suspended sentence

She will have to serve the 30 days in prison if she commits a breach during her two-year’s probation

Ex-Mountie involved in Taser death at Vancouver airport sues government

Kwesi Millington claims he acted in accordance with RCMP training

LETTER: Seniors home care, day programs expanding, Adrian Dix says

B.C. health minister responds to latest Seniors Advocate report

Most Read