Why BC Hydro decided to stop bullying its 60,000 smart meter protesters
By: SGN Staff
Quick Take: Along with many others, I have long suggested that the best way to deal with anti-smart-meter zealots is to let them opt-out. Simply come up with a program that allows them to avoid having a smart meter. Then charge them a fee for the extra costs incurred, so that the rest of your customers aren't forced to subsidize their fringe beliefs. I don't know why it takes so many utilities so long to arrive at this obvious and fair answer. Use the Comment form at the bottom if you can suggest why so many utilities are stubborn and sluggish. - Jesse Berst
"It’s not our intention to offend people or bully people," said British Columbia Energy Minister Bill Bennett in announcing a new opt-out plan. Customers concerned about the health effects of smart meters will be able to turn off the wireless transmitter and pay to have the meter read manually. More than 60,000 B.C. residents remain unwilling to allow the regional utility, B.C. Hydro, to install a smart meter. Many clashed with B.C. Hydro contractors, refusing to grant them property access.
"There are people who have beliefs that I don’t necessarily agree with, but they believe they shouldn’t have a radio transmitter in their smart meter and it’s going to affect them in some negative way ... so we are going to respect that," Bennett told The Province newspaper. "But they don’t get that exception without some cost."
Bennett's predecessor, Rich Coleman, had previously taken a hard line, insisting that smart meters were mandatory. According to The Province, he backed away from physically forcing the meters on holdouts before the May provincial election.
Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.
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