Resident sets sights on smart meters

An Armstrong woman wants her city council to become responsive and proactive when it comes to B.C. Hydro smart meters.

An Armstrong woman wants her city council to become responsive and proactive when it comes to B.C. Hydro smart meters.

Shirley States, a wife, mother and grandmother, presented her concerns about Hydro’s mandatory installation of the controversial meters, and asked city council to join 30 other councils that have passed motions calling for a moratorium on smart meters installation.

“My specific request is that you, as a council, stand behind the motion passed by UBCM delegates on Sept. 30, 2011 that recommended putting a halt to the B.C. Hydro smart metering program until major issues can be addressed,” said States.

“Smart meters could be harmful to human health or they could be safe. If harmful, why aren’t we finding this out before the whole province is blanketed with smart meters?”

States said she first became aware of the Hydro plan last year in Kamloops, reading a newspaper while she attended her grandson’s spelling bee. Hydro plans to install smart meters on every home in B.C. by the end of this year, with Armstrong slated to have theirs installed in July.

The article gave States her first look at what it said were the dangers smart meters pose to human health.

“Disbelief and helplessness were my first reactions,” said States, who gave council a grocery list length of health problems allegedly arising in California, where smart meters have been installed.

“Thousands of health complaints,” she said. “Headaches, nausea, tinnitus, dizziness, buzzing in the teeth, rashes, sleeplessness, severe anxiety, cognitive impairment, heart problems, interference with pacemakers, fires, explosions. The list goes on and on.”

States said she now controls how much she uses wireless technology, such as her cell phone, microwave oven, cordless phone and computer, all using the same type of technology as smart meters.

With Armstrong’s plan to install water meters on city homes, States’ disappointment is evident.

“If even one of you expressed concern with the possible harmful effects of smart meters, it would be reassuring to me,” she said. “It might challenge the others to seek the truth on this matter. You might even decide to remove the water meters.”

Stating her concerns for her health and that of her family, States said she would do whatever she could and whatever it takes to protect her home, and she hoped it was with council’s support.

Council, however, decided only to receive her presentation.

“I don’t know where the implication comes from that Hydro meters will be emitting 24-seven,” said city administrator Patti Ferguson. “Hydro emphatically told us that smart meters would be read. When they send out a signal asking the meter to send information, they’ll send it. Information is not emitted until the machine asks for it.”

Ferguson added that the provincial government told council smart meters are safe.

Coun. John Trainor explained that he has a water meter at his business and that the meter reader has to come to the business, point a hand-held device at the “box on the wall,” and the device is not activated until the reader does so.

“It runs for three-to-four seconds, then it turns off,” said Trainor.

On its website, B.C. Hydro said it will install 1.8 million smart meters in homes and businesses in B.C. by December, and the meters are expected to save $70 million over the next three years.