Monday, August 08, 2011

Smart Meters - another dumb idea from BC Liberal government - and perhaps a dangerous one

Smart Meter - dumb idea

A Skeptic's Guide to BC Smart Meters

From dubious cost-effectiveness to health concerns, here are a few reasons to question them
Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday August 9, 2011

By Bill Tieleman

"Ben Franklin may have discovered electricity -- but it is the man who invented the meter who made the money."

- Former U.S. supreme court chief justice Earl Warren

Does this story sound familiar?

A $1-billion waste of money, taxpayers picking up an enormous tab -- for no benefit to them - and BC Liberal friends getting big contracts.

Could it be the BC Rail privatization? Or the Harmonized Sales Tax?

Nope. It's a brand new one -- installing "smart meters" in the home or business of every BC Hydro customer.

And smart meters are the dumbest idea yet from a government full of them.

BC Hydro claims the completely safe wireless-transmitting smart meters will save you money and the environment by letting you -- and them -- monitor electricity usage. Then you can reduce usage and shift it to off-peak hours at lower rates.

That all sounds good -- but it's not accurate.

Here's the flip side: smart meters will cost you $930 million up front, not reduce energy usage, not save the environment and not stop drug dealers. And they may not be safe.

How smart are they?

The B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre says smart meters are dumb, and will add 8.3 per cent to your BC Hydro bill, even if they work.

Why? Because people use electricity when and why they do for good reasons -- like getting to work and school in the morning, cooking dinner in the evening, and heating and cooling their homes when it's needed.

"There is only so much that a family can do, with all the will in the world, to shift their energy patterns," BCPIAC executive director Jim Quail writes on the group's website.

And even using electricity at a different time doesn't save energy.

"If our typical family went to the trouble of running the clothes dryer at midnight [saving perhaps a couple of pennies on their energy bill], they would still use the same amount of power to dry the same load of clothes," Quail says.

And are smart meters safe? That depends on which experts on wireless technology you choose to believe. BC Hydro says exposure to the smart meter's wireless radio frequency over 20 years is the equivalent of one 30 minute cell phone call.

But BC Hydro admits the World Health Organization hasn't drawn any "definitive conclusions but has called for further investigation" into the wireless radiation emitted by cell phones, which it says has "different parameters" than smart meters.

However, some prominent doctors strongly believe smart meters are indeed a health hazard.

"What is the evidence that smart meters are safe and have no adverse health effects?" asks Dr. David Carpenter, a former head of the New York State Department of Public Health and now director of the University of Albany's Institute for Health and the Environment. "The answer to that question is that there is no such evidence."

"And in fact, while no one has done human health studies in relation to people living in homes with smart meters, we have evidence from a whole variety of other sources... that demonstrates convincingly and consistently that exposure to radiofrequency radiation at elevated levels for long periods of time increases the risk of cancer, increases the damage to the nervous system, causes electro-sensitivity, has adverse reproductive effects and a variety of other effects on different organ systems," Carpenter says in an online video interview with Smart Meter Safety, a U.S. group opposed to smart meters.

"So there is no justification for the statement that smart meters have no adverse health effects," he concludes. "The smart meter is for the benefit of the utility... and at the expense of the consumer, who has to live in the house that has this constant exposure," Carpenter says. "So, an informed person should demand that they be allowed to keep their analog meter."

The BC Lib connection

Whether or not smart meters are unhealthy is still unclear, if unsettling.

But what is certain is that smart meters are already benefitting a select group of BC Liberal Party-connected insiders who have been awarded lucrative smart meter contracts with BC Hydro.

The Tyee's Will McMartin documents in detail the connections between Corix Utilities, the firm chosen for a $73 million contract to install smart meters in B.C., and BC Hydro Board of Directors member Tracey McVicar, who heads the western Canada operations of one of Corix Utilities's biggest investors -- CAI Capital Management. McMartin also notes that long-time BC Liberal appointee David Emerson is both an investor and "senior advisor" to CAI.

McVicar is also a BC Liberal Party donor, having contributed $2,500 during the 2009 provincial election.

BC Hydro is itself awash with government-appointed former politicos with BC Liberal ties. Hydro executive vice-president Susan Yurkovich was a key member of the BC Liberal's 2005 election campaign committee, while Steve Vanagas, BC Hydro's communications director, came there directly out of former premier Gordon Campbell’s office, where he had been deputy chief of staff for communications.

So, in addition to knowing that BC Hydro rates are slated to go up by 50 per cent in five years to pay for things like smart meters, does that all make you feel better?

If you hear a loud spinning noise, it's most likely your smart meter is already running.



Anonymous said...

The BC Liar regime is as usual lying by claiming the "smart meter" program will save money and encourage conservation even after the AG report shows this is not case both in BC or anywhere else.

once again, this shows the total backward oppressive medieval corporate capitalist economic stupidity at work again--where laying off people, thus denying them many rights and opportunities and causing them all sorts of impoverishment and grief and reducing the power of people to drive the economy and create markets as consumers, is considered economic "efficiency" and "success" because it contributes to again further enriching a privileged elite at the expense of everyone else.

It is just like their utility rate increases solely to force us to pay for greedy lazy inefficient river-damaging profiteering private energy firms which fund the Liar party's coffers

Ken in Victoria said...

Well this blog is certainly going to be a lightning rod for the pro and con commentators. At this time, I will only comment that postings should be factual and not as in the past where many messages just shoot the messenger. Remember your IQ will be judged by your comment. Thank you.

DPL said...

One question. Just how will a different meter save me money? It will let me know that if I wash my clothes at 2 AM, which isn't likely, that they will then know our usage at that time went up. Looks like a waste of tax dollars and handing that money over to contractors who will be putting the things down in our development basement. A Raeside cartoon of a few days ago about nosy meters is quite good.

Ed Seedhouse said...

Don't get me wrong, I'm against the "Smart Meter" program and think it's a big waste of money. And there are plenty of reasons to expect unanticipated problems as shown in an article from Scientific American at this url:


But EMF radiation from them is not a problem and can't be if the laws of physics as we know them are right. It doesn't do us any good to oppose a bad idea for bad reasons since the believers in that bad idea will point out that one of our reasons for doing so is bad, is in fact nonsensical, and this will be used to discredit all opposition.

So drop the EMF "bad radiation" nonsense (because it is nonsense) and oppose a bad idea for the right reasons.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree that "smart meters " will be bad for your health, the jury is still out on that. What I do agree with is that they will not save any money over the long term as people will not change dinner time from 6 to midnight just to save a few cents. Also, when it is cold out, you need your heat at that time, are you going to tell your kid he has to be cold till midnight when power is cheaper ?

cherylb said...

Seen today's letters in the Sun?

Sounds like this woman has a bit of knowledge. You should contact her Bill.

North Van's Grumps said...

I was up at Kelowna last weekend and popped the question to a relative up there on what she thought about the BC Hydro's Smart Meter Billion Dollar program. The reply was "What?"

BC Hydro doesn't have any services to Kelowna, its Fortis domain and they're not doing anything called Smart Meters.

But Fortis does have a program called Advanced Metering Infrastructure..... at their Alberta division...

Fortis BC on the other hand has this:

June 9, 2011
Open houses scheduled for week of June 20, 2011
Kelowna, BC –

FortisBC is hosting a series of open house information sessions in June regarding the company’s proposal to deploy advanced meters for all electricity customers.

Looks like the electrical companies have got a conspiracy going against their customers.

Anonymous said...

Would be nice if someone could tell the average 'joe' how to stop a meter being put into his house.

Kim said...

Bill, you have forgotten one important point about smart meters. Invasion of privacy.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Seedhouse. The EMF emissions from a smart meter aren't all that powerful, since the meter itself is outside of your house (residential) and in a blocked off room (apartment and condo towers, which gives the impropable occurance of health risk emissions reaching through 10 concrete floors to yours).

There are questions as to the cost effectiveness of replacing the current model meters with new ones over a short period of time, but EMF emissions are not one of them. YOur laptop emits radiation through using WiFi, as does your cell phone, and desktop computer as does the WiFi network system at home and at work.

The politics regarding BC Hydro is also laughable, but factual.

But remember folks, the NDP starting with Barrett 1972-75 and again in 1992-1995 made BC Hydro a dump ground for NDP insiders.

Anonymous said...

"Would be nice if someone could tell the average 'joe' how to stop a meter being put into his house"

Simple. Tell BC Hydro you don't want their service, and in replacement, get a pedal bike with dyanmo attached and generate your own power.

cherylb said...

Here you go Anonymous 9:26

Ken in Victoria said...

I have just read the 11 comments. My comment is where are the supporters of smart meters. Spinning their wheels. As for NDPers on Hydro in the past, is there a suggestion that liberals have not added their voices to Crown Corps? Example is Mr. and his salary and pension. Were there no Canadian available for the job.

Anonymous said...

Here you go Anonymous 9:26

Smart move, fool. BC Hydro owns the power resource to your home. Plus the equipment up to the junction box.

So it will be interesting to see what they do if you refuse.

Anonymous said...

The only thing SMART here is the profits the BC Liberals, Premier Cute & Perky and their corporate masters will milk from all this ECO-GREEN BULLSHIT.

All that's missing from this new age scam are PET ROCKS, MOOD RINGS and public-funded magic-media-celeb botox injection-sites.

But I guess we will have wait until next month for that bit of Grit progress.


Anonymous said...

"All that's missing from this new age scam are PET ROCKS, MOOD RINGS and public-funded magic-media-celeb botox injection-sites."

BC's finest Devilled Ham is also forgetting his hero Pierre Trudeau, one of the worst spenders of taxpayer money in history.

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget that these meters can monitor every appliance, fixture, TV, light, anything that uses electricity. They will know how long you watch TV, when you go to bed, how often you use your microwave, etc. etc.

Henri said...

Ken in Victoria said...Tuesday, 9 August, 2011 11:55:00 AM PDT
I have just read the 11 comments. My comment is where are the supporters of smart meters. Spinning their wheels.
Here is one for you Ken, after the smart meter is installed you will be able to know when and how often your old lady is plugging in her electric dildo.

Ken in Victoria said...

Oh Henry, I certainly like your comment. For your information, I do not have an old lady. However, when I did, there was no need for a dildo as they referred to me as Mr Big and Long. Glad to see you are enjoying happy hour. I really like your sense of humour.
Now to get specific, still no meanful comments to fully support the liberals new babycalled "Smart Meter" Now back to my Crown Royal.

Anonymous said...

Now back to my Crown Royal.

Well um at least we know the cause of the dementia and paranoia from that blogger.

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget that these meters can monitor every appliance, fixture, TV, light, anything that uses electricity. They will know how long you watch TV, when you go to bed, how often you use your microwave, etc. etc.

Sure. They will know when you turn on the TV to watch intelligent shows such as Bachelor Pad, the Bachorette and so forth.

Ken in Victoria said...

Well, I see this blog is coming to an end and I can not for the next one By Sir William, a true Knight in shinning computer armor. My original impression was that smart meters where not a good idea. Basically, at time the price was far too high, rater increases too high and also the fact their is no option to op out. As I am preaching to a choir, I will end. The father of BC Hydro was W. A.C., lets have his son, Bill lead the battle against smart meters.I do not think his dad would approve the liberalization of his baby. He also brought us BC Ferries but that is another story. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

The father of BC Hydro was W. A.C., lets have his son, Bill lead the battle against smart meters.I do not think his dad would approve the liberalization of his baby. He also brought us BC Ferries but that is another story. Cheers

"Socialism if nessesary, but not nessesarily socialism"

- WAC Bennett.

The smart meters have nothing to do with the "liberalization" of BC Hydro. They are modernizing their infrastructure, but the per unit cost of the smart meters is the contention.

WAC would have turned over in his grave if he ever saw what the NDP did to BC Hydro (Pakistan project, more excessive political appointments to their board, etc.)

Anonymous said...

One poster here is living in the past, choosing to blame the mismanagement of BC Hydro and all things BC on the NDP.

TEN years ago, the Liberals came to power and everything, EVERYTHING that has taken place since then is on THEIR shoulders.

The Liberals are and have been a total failure for BC and need to go, pronto.

Ken in Victoria said...

To Anonymous Aug 11th7:04
Thank for your comment. It is most important the voters understand that Ms. Clark and the liberal herd realize the 10 years of their rule is the main tropic to consider. Certainly, the NDP were not perfect. But to claim their record is better has not proven to be true. In other words, why do they wish to state the sins of the past. Should they not be prepare to defend their actions.Now, it is always easier to attack than defend and that is why a debate is of value.With the debate on the HST, voters in BC and politicians must learn a very important lesson the people of this province are the bosses not the spin doctors of the right or left. It is the voters who are in the middle and in the majority they have the votes to decide the outcome of an election.Lets move to true public debate with our political leaders.Would a once a monthly debate between two leaders not be of value. I do not think one or more of our news outlets would charge a fee as was in the case of Mr Campbell and his $240,000 TV appearance. He failed, resigned and the liberal party should paid that money back to you and I. I trust this monologue will spur further debate. Let me once again say thanks. AS final point, power to the people and not to the money donors,

Anonymous said...

"The Liberals are and have been a total failure for BC and need to go, pronto"

the NDP won't be a perfect government.

Be careful what you wish for. You might end up getting it.

It will be interesting to see what happens in terms of opinions from the bloggers when the NDP wins the next election, and afterwards reality sets in.

Be here when it happens.

Ken in Victoria said...

To Mr. Anonymous at August 15 201. Your last comment is so important. The suggestion is totally valid. I like you get what you wish for. However, because of the HST debate, the smart baby meters program and BC Rail situation has just two examples. I suggest the next Govt will have learnt and provide a better service to the citizen of the best place on earth. Lets start with the two wise men Mr. T, Mr V and Chris their involvement in the HST debate will change a govt's attitude forever. That will be for the best.Your best remark is definitely the fact will be Interesting to put it mildly. It will not be boring and the public will be served. If not the two wise men will return, please bring Chris with you.Personal note to Chris I like you and wish you the best. Cheers.