BC energy minister looks dumb denying meters at fault

Smart meters far from infallible as increasing number of cases are proving.

Energy Minister Rich Coleman has labelled as “urban myth” reports of skyrocketing bills in some homes after BC Hydro installed smart meters.

“This is nonsense,” Coleman told The Province. “They give you a story, we check it out and find out there’s nothing wrong with the smart meter. We find out there’s something like a space heater operating through the winter.”

Right.

A space heater can make a bimonthly bill increase to $2,000 from its usual $200 for a 78-year-old senior in Powell River.

And, it must have been one heck of a space heater than caused the bimonthly hydro bill at a Kamloops home to jump to $4,800.

The fact is, as has been shown by zany numbers on the bills, smart meters are not infallible and Coleman and the B.C. Liberals need to greet complaints with a little more respect and a lot less scorn.

Yes, there are undoubtedly instances in which bills that are marginally higher can be attributed to the use of more heat during a cold winter.

But, to suggest anything other than malfunction in cases of hydro bills jumping 10 or 20 times in cost is an affront to the B.C. taxpayer, overburdened as they are by the vast array of fee hikes thrown at them this year — including a BC Hydro rate hike as of April 1, though one that cannot possibly account for staggering sums such as those described here and elsewhere.

Sharelynn Moore, vice-president of corporate communications for Itron, the Washington-based company that supplied BC Hydro with smart meters, said the Kamloops meter is the first it knows of that has been malfunctioning in this way.

Moore said less than 0.5 per cent of smart meters in use have malfunctioned.

We have no reason to doubt her.

But, as the cases in Kamloops and Powell River and elsewhere seem to show, far from being an “urban myth,” even a miniscule ratio of malfunctioning smart meters can make the statements of some politicians look dumb by comparison.

-Kamloops This Week