By Anthony Capkun
January 26, 2013 – On January 23, British Columbia’s energy, mines and natural gas minister, Rich Coleman, released the following opinion editorial on helping customers understand the benefits of smart meters:
I am writing to assure your readers that BC Hydro will be working with its customers over the next several months to help them understand the benefits of new smart meters prior to final installation.
During this time, BC Hydro will not install a new meter without the homeowner’s consent and will work directly with customers to address their individual concerns.
We have an obligation to assure British Columbians that smart meters are safe. B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer and Health Canada have confirmed that smart meters pose no known health risk or reason for concern. Some customers remain unwilling to accept that fact, and we will work with them to help allay their concerns.
The reality is we must upgrade our aging system, and smart meters are a necessary part of modernizing our grid. They are standard equipment, just like utility poles and powerlines, that help ensure a safe, efficient delivery of electricity to British Columbians.
Over the last year and a half, BC Hydro has installed 1.74 million smart meters throughout the province and is now in the process of installing the remaining 85,000.
As a result, they will be revisiting customers who originally turned down the smart meters to better understand their concerns, provide them with credible answers to their questions and finish the final installations. Our people in the field tell us that the majority of the people who held out originally are now taking a smart meter, so we continue to make good progress.
We also continue to encourage BC Hydro’s customers to keep an open mind about smart meters, as maintaining a separate system using analogue meters would be costly and detract from our goal: keeping electricity rates affordable.
Upgrading our electrical grid will deliver $1.6 billion in savings to British Columbia over the next 20 years and until all smart meters in B.C. are up and running, British Columbians cannot fully benefit from the many advantages of a modern grid, such as getting our lights back on faster and more safely.
I hope that this information helps your readers to better understand our plans and why smart meters are an important part of helping to keep our rates among the lowest in North America.