Group seeks smart meter ban

Citizens for Safe Technology Society urge Coldstream to ban smart meters

Coldstream is now being urged to take a smart approach to smart meters.

The Citizens for Safe Technology Society (CST) is spreading its anti-smart meter message to municipalities across B.C. in an effort to ban the devices.

“From our point of view, the smart meter program will have a largely underestimated negative impact on our communities,” said Shirley Gilchrist, a CST member from Lavington.

B.C. Hydro is working to replace all the old analog meters with new smart meters by the end of 2012.

But safety, health and security concerns have many protesting the installation.

CST is asking municipalities to sign a moratorium on mandatory installation of wireless meters and request that concerned residents be offered alternatives at no cost to them.

To date, 37 municipalities have signed the moratorium including Lake Country and Salmon Arm.

But Coldstream isn’t making any hasty decisions as it seeks out all sides to the story.

The district will have B.C. Hydro make a presentation to council at a future meeting.

Meanwhile, Coun. Pat Cochrane suggested the district investigate whether it has the authority to ban smart meters in the community.

“We may be challenged with an outright ban,” said Michael Stamhuis, chief administrative officer, suggesting that Coldstream may not have the ability to ban, but could sign the moratorium if council decides to do so.

Among the long list of concerns CST members have with smart meters is safety, due to microwave radiation exposure.

“A number of people, estimated up to 15 per cent of the population, have developed electro hyper sensitivity, including me,” said CST member Werner Hoffelinck, of Vernon.

With technology evolving to more devices such as smart meters, Hoffelinck says the number of those suffering from the effects of EHS is also expected to rise.

B.C. Hydro says smart meters communicate for a total average of one minute a day and that “exposure to radio frequency during a 20-year life span of a smart meter is equivalent to the exposure during a single 30-minute cell phone call.”

The loss of meter reader jobs is another concern of CST.

Hydro is uncertain how many of the 300 meter reading jobs will be impacted because the meter readers also service other utilities.

But the program has already created approximately 700 jobs within and outside of B.C. Hydro, according to the Crown corporation.

Once the program is complete, B.C. Hydro will have installed approximately two million new pieces of technology on the grid that will need to be managed and maintained.

Yet the CST points out that these smart meters cost more and have half the life expectancy of analog meters.