Smart meter opponents launch recall plan

Smart meter opponents are hoping to create a movement similar to the HST recall to force the government to scrap the program.

Smart meter opponents are hoping to create a movement similar to the HST recall to force the government to scrap the program.

Walter McGinnis, a spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters, spoke at the Unitarian Fellowship Hall Wednesday, after the screening of Full Signal, about the group’s aim of launching a plan under the B.C. Recall and Initiative Act to stop the mandatory installation of the meters.

The coalition recently formed and McGinnis said it eventually wants to apply for society status.

“The central idea is these B.C. Hydro smart meters have to go completely,” said McGinnis.

The group launched the website www.stopsmartmetersbc.ca and hopes to get people to pre-register for the movement before it officially begins the recall petition to get an idea of support.

A contentious issue around smart meters is the lack of consultation with the public and that people can’t refuse to have the technology installed in their homes, said McGinnis. Other concerns include adverse health effects from electromagnetic radiation, privacy and security issues, environmental impacts and job losses for meter readers.

The Stop Smart Meters group launches their pre-registration campaign in late October.

Christel Martin, a Nanaimo representative for Citizens for Safe Technology, said she’s please with the initiative. Martin, who has electrical hypersensitivity, says the public should have been consulted.

Ted Olynyk, B.C. Hydro manager of community relations for Vancouver Island, said smart meter installations will continue.

“Smart meters are an excellent tool to help people with their electric bill and provide more information to customers to help them in turn be able to conserve electricity,” said Olynyk.

Customers could conserve as much as 15 per cent by using the information provided to find efficiencies in their homes, he said. British Columbians enjoy the third-lowest rates for  electricity in North America and the province is one of the largest consumers of electricity in the world, he added.

B.C. Hydro says signals emitted from a smart meter over its 20-year lifespan equals a single 30-minute cellphone call and information transmitted uses the same data encryption as online banking systems.

The technology allows smart meters to provide automated notification of power outages to areas and more accurately measure power consumption in homes.

Consumers with smart meters will be able to track their electricity usage in the spring of 2012 by logging into an online account. Installations of smart meters began in July and are estimated to reach all customers by December 2012.

reporter3@nanaimobulletin.com