They’re coming next month and smart meters were on the agendas of all three Tri-port councils as a BC Hydro representative made his rounds “putting out the fires” caused by rumours and misinformation about the wireless devices.
“Seriously,” said Ted Olynyk, the Crown Corporation spokesman, “I don’t know where some of these rumours come from.”
“I even heard one that we will know when you’re having sex — we won’t know and we don’t care.”
Olynyk gave his presentations as information to the three councils, but was there was a dissenting opinion in Port Hardy chambers.
Rick Kirkpatrick, an opponent of the meters, had delegation status and asked council to take another look at the new technology.
“I’m suggesting Port Hardy join Alert Bay and 29 other municipalities that are requesting a moratorium on all wireless smart meters installations in the town of Port Hardy until all safety and privacy concerns are met,” he told Mayor Bev Parnham and a three-person council — Coun.Al Huddlestan was out of town, but attended by telephone.
It’s established that meters pulse a radio frequency to collectors for only a fraction of a second several times a day, but some believe that could cause harm.
“I think you’ll find being exposed to radio frequencies is like being exposed to asbestos — the higher the level, the longer the exposure, the more danger,” he said.
“There is no safe levels of asbestos or radio frequencies.”
During his presentation that followed Kirkpatrick’s, Olynyk countered the meters are simple measurement devices that put out such sparse frequencies as not to be noticed.
“In fact,” he said, “the exposure to radio frequency from a smart meter over its entire 20-year life span is equal to a single, 30-minute cell phone call.”
Existing meter boxes, the socket where smart meters are installed, act like a shield that directs smart meter radio frequency signals away from the home.
Kirkpatrick acknowledged there are frequencies in the average home, but said people have control over the exposure.
“The consumer can turn off any of the devices, limit usage times and keep newborn and pregnant mothers away — but you will not be able to turn off the smart meters.”
The province is spending $1-billion to replace all the meters in the province and will begin swapping them out on the North Island in February.
“I suggest you think about things like implied consent, computer hacking and your own personal privacy because all the things you do in the privacy of your house will soon be up for sale, “ Kirkpatrick said.
“Worst of all, you’ll have no way of stopping this constant source of new radiation to yourself and your family.”
Olynyk argued there is no evidence or scientific data that suggests smart meters — it’s anticipated more than 200-million of them will be installed world-wide — are a health risk.
“For us smart meters are the global standard and something that’s going on world-wide, whether it’s the installation of smart meters for electricity or the measurement of natural gas in many municipalities on Vancouver Island, they’re using wireless water meters as well,” he said.
Besides, the meters will help keep BC Hydros rates low, said Olynyk, who added B.C. has the third lowest power rates on the continent.
“But coupled with that is the fact we are one of the largest consumers of electricity in the world,”
“We have to build more, buy more or conserve more and hopefully (the meters) will help consumers conserve more electricity because they’ll be able to see in real time what they’re using … on an in-home device,” he said.
“We just collect hourly consumption data, that’s the only thing we’ll see.”
When Olynyk finished his presentation — a good 20 minutes longer than council normally allows — Huddlestan said he saw a big benefit in all this.
“One industry in particular, the aluminium industry, will be selling lots of Reynolds Wrap for people who are paranoid and walking around our streets with tinfoil on their heads.”
The meters are coming but installation can be delayed.
“If you don’t want it, simply put a note on your meter to that effect, and hydro will bypass your home,” said Olynyk.
However, that doesn’t mean all homes won’t get the meters, he said.
For those who post a note, a BC Hydro representative will be in touch to “talk to those who are hesitant and will address all their fears.”
For more on BC Hydro’s smart meter program, log onto http://www.bchydro.com.