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BC Hydro can’t seem to stay out of the news, and on people’s minds. Over the past few weeks a number of constituents have contacted our community office with concerns about additional charges for opting out of a BC Hydro smart meter: If they chose to keep their old meter, would it cost them more per month? And if so, how much more?

We now know. BC Hydro has submitted letters to customers outlining a fee structure for keeping their old meter. Customers who do not want a smart meter will be charged an additional $35 monthly monitoring fee. Customers who have a smart meter but would like to turn off the radio transmitter will be charged a ‘one-time’ fee of $100 and a $20 monthly monitoring fee.

There are many people who have expressed their concerns about having a smart meter attached to their home. The position that I advocated for was that people should have the right to determine what is attached to their homes. The response from BC Hydro was to grant an opt-out option, which I am in favour of

Understandably, the two options–to either transition to a smart meter or to keep one’s original meter–have different costs associated with them for BC Hydro. Switching to a smart meter requires initial capital costs to purchase and install the meters but is relatively inexpensive when it comes to monitoring usage. Keeping an old meter, on the other hand, means no initial capital cost, but higher monitoring costs. My stance is that if these costs are incurred by the customer, they should adequately reflect the costs incurred by BC Hydro and should not be used to generate additional profit.

To charge a customer $35 a month to keep their old meter, when manual readings are traditionally done every 2 or 3 months, translates into customers paying between $70 and $105 per visit. This is outrageous. Several jurisdictions in the United States have created similar opt-out programs for smart meters and only charge their customers $10 to $12 per month, such as in Maine and California . There is also a low income fee structure in California which reduces customer costs from $75 to $10 initial fee, and from $10 to $5 for the monthly fee: a program BC Hydo should consider, or even better, the BC Government impose.

Even though letters sent out by BC Hydro indicate they are going ahead with the new charges, this still requires approval from the BC Utilities Commission.

I am urging the commission to carefully review the fees charged and options available in other jurisdictions, and not to approve the BC Hydro proposal.

Andrew Weaver

Below are links to information on smart meter programs in Maine and California in the United States, for those readers who would like further information on other jurisdictions:


Maine: http://www.cmpco.com/smartmeter/smartmeteroptions.html


California: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PUBLISHED/NEWS_RELEASE/164434.htm


  1. Robin-
    November 3, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Re Thomas Anderson’s comment that EM radiation is a hoax:
    When not just hundreds, but thousands of papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals about the dangers of electromagnetic radiation, can they ALL be wrong? It’s not just smart meters, but many other sources of EM that we need to inform ourselves about.
    For those who would like truly to learn more — including solutions, I recommend this book: A Wellnewss Guide for the Digital Age — with Safer-Tech Solutions for All Things Wired & Wireless — for Brains Worth Saving, by Kerry Crofton, PhD. (And to whom it may concern, I have no financial or other interest in this book, its author or publisher — I just believe in education and good health.)

  2. RN-
    October 7, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Hydro answers questions about the health concerns with irrelevant comparisons and analogies, creating suspicion that they have something to hide. They should instead be releasing technically relevant information, such as this : http://61827ea6031ff2e7a9bc-6d82d48cc20ebafe1731d8b336d3561a.r18.cf2.rackcdn.com/uploaded/e/0e897733_epri-final1021829.pdf

  3. Thomas Anderson, Ph.D.-
    September 21, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    No one is sensitive to electromagnetic radiation. That is nothing less than an outrageous hoax. Hence there is no reason for anyone to refuse a smart meter. The people spreading fear of radio signals are all hucksters. They all have something to sell. There is no science whatsoever supporting their claims. Not one person, anywhere in the world, has ever been harmed by a smart meter. These are the facts.

  4. John in Nanaimo-
    September 17, 2013 at 11:08 am

    I live in a 25-unit condo, where the residents have been united in their stand against having wireless meters installed. That $35/month fee would mean we would be paying $1,750 each time the meter reader reads the bank of meters (once every 2 months).

  5. LRFloyd-
    September 16, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    BC Hydro is going bankrupt, the Liberal Government continues to take $$ out of BC Hydro to put into their “General” accounts so they look good, and rates keep going up.

    Smart meters are not smart or green. The green refers to the $$ the meters cost ($555/meter in BC – the highest price in the world!), the costs of continuous upgrades re security and data storage of massive amounts of data, and guess who pays for all this? Yes, the BC Hydro customer.

    Analog meters have a long lifetime, up to 50 years. Smart meters might last between 5 to 20. You can still purchase analog meters for $50-$75.

    Smart meters with the radio turned off is not an option. People who are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) are still sensitive to this option. In the USA, these meters are having to be replaced with analogs or digital (not smart).

    Smart meters are hackable and put the entire grid at risk. Every smart meter is an entry point.

    How can BC Hydro charge opt-out fees when they don’t even have approval yet from the BC Utilities Commission?

    60,000 x $35 x 12 months = $25,200,000/year to read the meters??? (yes, that’s million)

    I believe the number of refuseniks is more like 200,000.
    200,000 x $35 x 12 months = $84,000,000

    Customers are phoning/e-mailing/photographing their readings to BC Hydro. No meter reader required. No cost. Hire university students in summer to read once/year to verify.

  6. pat-
    September 16, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Why can’t we email photos of our meters, or call in the reading, and they don’t have to come but maybe twice a year to confirm?

  7. Semballa-
    September 16, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Entering the meterdata on a monthly or 2months period directly to the BC Hydro meter account makes total sense. Verification could be submitted by taking a picture of the meter whenever required.
    420.–/year is unsustainable for people on substitute income

  8. Mo-
    September 16, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    I have my old meter.i did not ask for new one ???? should i be penalized to pay $35

  9. Belinda-
    September 16, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    An option not proposed by B C Hydro is to allow the home owners/occupants with old meters to take the reading and either phone it in or enter it into their account via the website. Fortis BC already has this function. Hydro could then take an annual (or semi annual) verification (audit) read. That would substantially reduce BC Hydro’s cost of monitoring the old meters and entering the data into their system. I am already calling in Hydro readings on the meter read date because, after years of there never being an error, my meter was read incorrectly at least twice in the past year. One occurrence resulted in a suspended bill as it was so far off the mark (10,000 KWH’s) that it got flagged as an out of bounds read.

  10. Corey-
    September 15, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    Let’s see an option for customers to read their own meters, and submit the numbers themselves – for no cost.