Michael Smyth writes of this in a column in the Vancouver Province.
NDP wrath over smart meters much like hatred for HST
But energy critic admits new devices wouldn't go, even if his party wins
By Michael Smyth, The Province February 10, 2013
In the target-rich environment that is B.C. politics, one of the NDP's favourite objects of scorn has been the Liberal government's controversial smart meters.
Ever since the Liberals announced they'd spend a billion dollars to install the high-tech power meters in every B.C. home, the New Democrats have been in full-on attack mode.
"People doubt the value of the meters," said NDP energy critic John Horgan.
"They doubt the safety of the meters. And that doubt is leading to a provincial program that, in the eyes of many, is illegitimate."
Horgan, likely the next energy minister if the NDP wins the May election, has ripped just about every facet of the smart-meter program.
Complaints of over-billing: "A lot of people have been shocked by their bills. They are fearful their new smart meters are not measuring accurately."
Suspicions that smart meters will eventually charge customers a higher "time-of-use" rate during peak consumption periods: "Another way of gouging you for cooking your dinner at 6 p.m. when your family gets home from work."
And spending $1 billion on a program without a detailed business plan: "This program is off the rails. It's among the worst policy decisions and implementation that I have ever seen."
Quite the indictment. Perhaps only the hated harmonized sales tax has attracted more NDP wrath.
All of which begs the question: What would the New Democrats do with the smart meters they detest so much?
Horgan makes one thing clear: To the chagrin of smart-meter opponents, he says an NDP government won't get rid of them.
"I'm the devil incarnate now because I said I won't take them off people's walls," said Horgan, noting the NDP has received 2,000 public complaints about smart meters in 2013 alone.
"Every passing month another 100,000 or 200,000 meters were installed," Horgan said.
"I've never said we could turn back the clock on a program of that scale."
Fair enough. But what about those people who think radio waves from the wireless meters will make them sick?
What about people who think smart meters are overcharging them?
Or B.C. Hydro customers convinced smart meters are a computerized Trojan horse, designed to spring expensive "time-of-use billing" on them later on?
Horgan makes no promises, other than to say an NDP government would turn the whole mess over to the B.C. Utilities Commission for an independent review.
"We'll look at developing an opt-out program that will protect the integrity of the smart grid," Horgan said.
"We'd look at opt-out provisions in other jurisdictions, the cost of opting out and who would pay those costs."
In other words, maybe an NDP government would let you refuse to take a smart meter.
Maybe they'd let you get rid of your smart meter if you already have one.
And maybe you'd have to pay extra to go smart-meter-free.
Maybe. One of the big questions, Horgan explained, is whether allowing a smart-meter opt-out provision would threaten the function of Hydro's "smart grid."
For example: Hydro says one of the biggest benefits of smart meters is the ability to quickly detect and fix localized power failures.
But couldn't Hydro still do that, even if some people don't have a smart meter?
"I've had experts tell me you don't need a smart meter in every single house to have a smart grid," Horgan said.
But what do you do when entire neighbourhoods or apartment buildings decide they don't want a smart meter?
"On Gabriola Island, they've got a trap line at the ferry terminal and if anyone spots a Corix van, everybody goes on high alert to protect their old meters," Horgan said. (Corix is the Hydro contractor that replaces the old analog meters with smart meters.)
Then there's the cost of an opt-out program. Horgan said an NDP government would question Hydro officials about that.
"Those are questions I can't answer before an election, but I'm committed to getting the answers after an election," he said.
But here's perhaps the biggest question of all: Would an NDP government introduce time-of-use billing, where Hydro customers are charged higher rates in the evening and other peak-demand periods?
After all, that's why smart meters were invented in the first place.
"Time-of-use pricing is not on my agenda," Horgan said.
But then he added: "I don't know what the future holds."http://www.theprovin...l#ixzz2KXIq3YsD
Edited by Wetcoaster, 10 February 2013 - 03:06 PM.