Sicamous council supports moratorium on smart meters

Grassroots movement encouraged to rally against wireless meters.

Shuswap residents should not feel powerless when it comes to pulling the plug on smart meters.

So says District of Sicamous Coun. Don Richardson who, with council, agreed to draft a letter to BC Hydro calling for a moratorium on the controversial wireless devices.

“I don’t advocate civil disobedience, but certainly, as Canadians, or British Columbians, we need to test even those that have authority,” says Richardson. “Prove to me. I want to see documentation of the fact there’s no problems with this stuff.”

Richardson has his reservations about the province’s push to install smart meters. In particular, he is concerned with possible health issues, the risk to privacy posed by hackers, and the potential for time of use billing.

“This asset belongs to British Columbians… in that, we should be getting the best deal we can in terms of the rate,” says Richardson. “That’s what you’re saying this meter does, but I haven’t seen that so far. In talking to people, their rates have gone up and they haven’t changed their lifestyle.

“I have a concern with social manipulation. I don’t want to do my laundry at 2 o’ clock in the morning, I don’t want to have a shower at two in the morning, I want to have it at a time that fits my lifestyle.”

Richardson’s concerns were mirrored in a presentation prior to council’s vote for a moratorium by Lori Onsorge, spokesperson for the North Okanagan/Shuswap coalition to stop smart meters.

Onsorge provided details from numerous studies and documentation critical of smart meters and the pulse microwave radio frequency they emit when relaying information. She said B.C.’s Health Act compels the city to speak out on anything that could have a negative impact on human health. She asked that council join the 37 other communities that have demanded a moratorium on the installation of smart meters until BC Hydro can prove they are safe.

Coun. Fred Busch said it isn’t within the district’s power to tell BC Hydro to stay out, and in the meantime would have to work with the Union of BC Municipalities to make council’s objections known.

“Initially, when I first heard about this, I thought it was just some people complaining because they didn’t have anything to complain about, said Busch. “But I think, as more and more information is coming out, especially about the privacy and the ability for others to be able to hack into my smart meter account – that certainly raises enough questions that I’m willing to get some more information and assurances that this can’t happen.”

Coun. Greg Kyllo considered the push on smart meters to be a bit suspect.

“What would be the benefit to the individual consumer or the community by installing smart meters?” asked Kyllo. “They certainly aren’t talking about a reduction of rates. They’re selling power to California at a lower rate than they’re charging their citizens in British Columbia. I can’t see any reason why we’d want to support it.”

Council agreed to join other districts in submitting a letter to the utility supporting a moratorium until problems identified with smart meters are independently assessed, and an acceptable alternative can be made available at no additional cost.

In a recent presentation to Salmon Arm City Council, a BC Hydro representative said smart meters would be installed in every home and business, as mandated under the province’s Clean Air Act, even in communities where municipal council’s have demanded a moratorium.

Onsorge commended Sicamous’ council, and believes, like Richardson, that as more people come onboard in requesting a moratorium, the province and the utility will have to listen.

“At the Salmon Arm meeting, they encouraged the continuation of this effort by the grassroots because I believe they know there are serious issues,” said Onsorge. “And they believe that, if people take responsibility, it will make a difference.”