In your October 2, 2013 issue Stu James asks “where is our right to decide?” regarding what he claims is extortion by BC Hydro in charging fees for the higher cost of reading electric meters that don’t use radio signals to pass consumption data to the billing office. The answer is “in the polling booth at election time.”
From James’ viewpoint, he is suffering from what is called “tyranny of the majority.” Voters decided decades ago to have a monopoly by the only way one can be achieved in a society with a justice system – government force. Voters elect the administration of the monopoly, by electing officials who control BC Hydro including by hiring or firing its CEO. All legal in this society of excessive government power. Mr. James is free to develop and elect better candidates, as we have the right to free speech here.
BC Hydro is trying to reduce costs and facilitate energy conservation. Their business case shows payback in costs of reading meters and increased revenue by stopping theft of electricity, but is conservative on the conservation impact as it is difficult to forecast people’s response to the better knowledge of own consumption that smart meters will provide. (I do judge BC Hydro to be stumbling fools in their communication about smart meters and their fee amounts – and the BC government has not been much better.)
Mr. James seems to want to have his cake and eat it too. Note it wouldn’t be any better with a neo-Marxist government like B.C. had in the past. So he should hope for increased competition from alternative methods of supplying electricity which do exist, but so far are more costly and must be evaluated for effect on neighbours. Methods of generating one’s own power include a windmill, photovoltaic solar panels, fossil-fuel-fired methods such as heat exchangers, thermo-electric conversion, or combustion engines using natural gas or diesel fuel, and for some people water turbines. Perhaps neighbours could join together to buy and operate one of the emerging devices using radioactive decay thermo-electric. But first check for laws prohibiting sale of electricity by other than the monopoly. Perhaps in a narrow tower that could also support a cellular phone antenna to fill the many gaps in service – oh, wait! those emit radio signals close to the frequency of the smart meter signals James objects to.