CST News Feed

Smart Meters and Grids




Coalition to Stop Smart Meters
PO Box 52061
Beacon Ave. RPO
Sidney, BC V8L 5V9

EMAIL address for Greg Reimer, BC HYDRO:  greg.reimer@bchydro.com

Jan 22

Some 5,400 of Ontario's 4.8 million smart meters are being removed and replaced because of a risk they could heat up, cause an electrical short and possibly spark a fire.

"Some 5,400 smart meters in Ontario are being removed and replaced because of a risk they could heat up, causing an electrical short and possibly spark a fire. . . .

" . . . It's the latest snag to hit the controversial $2-billion smart meter program, which auditor general Bonnie Lysyk criticized last month for cost overruns and poor performance. " Lysyk found one in six of the meters, which are designed to promote conservation, had not yet transmitted any readings of electricity use.

"The system was supposed to cost $1 billion, but that has doubled."


Jan 9

Kamloops family mulls legal action against BC Hydro

conversation between BC Hydro representatives and a customer whose electricity was cut due to non-acceptance of a smart meter


"BC Hydro won't reconnect a Kamloops family that had its power cut off last month unless the utility is allowed to install a smart meter that can have the radio turned off, for which there is a monthly charge.

"When the family called BC Hydro, the Crown corporation said that, because of the disconnection, the utility can now install a smart meter when the power is reconnected.

"The BC Hydro statement to the family contradicts a statement last year by Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett, who is in charge of the utility, when he said the government won't "force people to have a smart meter if they really don't want one. It's not our intention to offend people or bully people."

"Bennett also said in July 2014 that people can opt out of the smart-meter program, but will have to pay the costs of having analog meters read.

"Asked about the discrepency between Bennett's statement and BC Hydro's requirement for the family to accept a smart meter, the ministry's communications spokesman, Jake Jacobs, referred all questions to BC Hydro. . . .

Jan 1

Smart Meters: Separating Fact from Fiction

Commonly Made Statements: What's the Real Story? (July 2013)

Updated 2013

When asked about the impacts that "Smart Meters" will have on B.C., representatives of Hydro have a standard set of responses-- a scripted "mantra" intended to justify their decision to install these meters. In form letters and interviews, advertisements and news reports, the statements are repeated and repeated again.

To explain their inaccuracies and clarify facts is a highly repetitive exercise, problematic when Hydro representatives and government officials make the same false statements over time, and when reports in the mainstream media continue to present these inaccuracies as truth.

The following collection of "Frequently Asked Questions and Statements made about Microwave/ Radiofrequency Radiation" contains information that helps to separate the fact from the fiction. Hopefully it will answer any questions regarding "Smart Meters": their safety and their health effects, their costs and impacts on B.C. and beyond.

Jan 1

CLASS ACTION (Lawsuit) PACKAGE (updated January 1, 2015)

Links to Participation Forms, Q and A and other information for anyone opposed to BC Hydro's Smart Meter Program





Questions and Answers relating to Participation Forms

Opt-Out Sign for Analog (Option 1)

Opt-Out Sign for Analog (Option 2) (Class Action Version)


STATUS of CLASS ACTION, January 1, 2015
Notice of Application November 7, 2014

* Check out the postings under BCUC/BC Hydro Class Action on this website for ongoing news and updates.  



Mini Class Action Participation Form

Mini Q&A

Jan 1

 Introductory Letter

B.C. Energy Minister Bill Bennett and BC Hydro state that there have been no fires or dangerous incidents involving smart meters. Are they deceitful or just incompetent? 

  • Introduction 
  • Reports of Fires 
  • Tracking of Smart Meter Fires or Failures 
  • Unreliable Sources 
  • Violations of Procedure 
  • Conclusion 
  • Emails

Dec 30

Smart Meters are a potential fire hazard. Learn how smart meter fires can happen.

Dec 30

BC Hydro Class Action Update - January 1, 2015

Newsletter December 30, 2014 - In Grateful Admiration to the Memory of Jimmy Gonzalez, 1972 - 2014

Jimmy Gonzales speaking to all of us  

Thank you most sincerely to all who continue to support the class action lawsuit against BC Hydro. Your donations are driving this legal challenge, and we look forward to the court hearing in April, 2015.  We will not give up this fight to regain the sanctity of our own homes.

Dec 18

New Democrats call for a reduction in fees paid by Meter Choices B.C. Hydro users

Letter from NDP MLA Adrian Dix to Liberal Energy Minister Bill Bennett

VICTORIA - B.C. Hydro's fees to customers in their Meter Choices program are too high and should be reduced, says New Democrat spokesperson for Hydro, Adrian Dix.  

"The fees being charged to participants in the Meter Choices program are out of step with what other utilities charge and don't represent a reasonable cost recovery for reading the analog meters or the smart meters with the radio-off engaged," said Dix.  

"It's clear that Hydro has set up this fee structure to punish customers who don't agree with them. That's not fair and it isn't something a public utility should be engaged in."  

"Dix has written a letter to energy minister Bill Bennett to request the fee structure be revised to be more in line with what utilities like Hydro Quebec and Fortis BC charge.  

"B.C. Hydro customers pay $240 per year for radio-off Smart Meter customers and $388.80 for legacy meter customers. By comparison, Fortis charges $108 per year for radio-off customers. That's a discrepancy that cannot be explained away. I hope the minister will agree with that and encourage B.C. Hydro to restructure these fees."  

"Dix offered two suggestions for lowering these fees: scaling back what seems to be an excessive security system for the analog meters and reducing the amount of time Hydro staff are called to physically read the meters - something Fortis already does for customers in the Okanagan and West Kootenay.  

"In his letter, Dix also asked the minister to clarify Hydro's policy on cancelling service in winter months. In November, a Hydro spokesperson told media on Vancouver Island that their policy was to not cancel service between November and March, yet Hydro customers have had their service disconnected as recently as last week.  

"This kind of conflicting information does not help already inflamed tensions," said Dix. "If the utility has a policy, it should follow the policy; if that policy doesn't exist, Hydro should not be claiming it does."  

A copy of Dix's letter can be found here: Smart Meter Letter to Hon Bill Bennett - 12.18.14

An early Christmas gift. Finally, perhaps the message has gotten through. 

  • An omission in Mr. Dix's letter is that in Quebec the fee was reduced further, from $8 per month to $5
  • The general public needs to know that we pay even if the meter is not read more often than every second month, and those on equal payments pay every month even if meters are read only 1-2 times a year. 
  • Another omission: 50,000 smart meters are being read manually, receiving the very same services for no additional costs, counter to the Utilities Commission Act. 
Despite these omissions, this letter is the first statement of any substance from the NDP on this matter for a very long time. A step in the right direction. 

Dec 13

The Next Stage of Smart Meter Extortion

Richard Caniell in The Valley Voice

"Immoral and dangerous contradictions plague BC Hydro and the BC government's claims and actions. They are now, in winter, shutting off the electricity of anyone who refuses to pay the exorbitant fee charged to those who refuse a Smart Meter. Even the elderly, poor and sick are left to sit in the frigid dark while BC Hydro executives take home up to $89,000 a month. . .

"Bennett said he expects, once smart-meter opponents are forced to pay the extra fee, that many will drop their objections. 'If you really believe having a smart meter is going to make you sick, maybe you'll pay the [extra fee],' he said. 'I do think there will be lots of people who will say: 'It's not that big a deal, I'll take a smart meter.'"

"In service to this aim, the Liberal government levied on BC residents some of the highest opt-out fees in North America, at $32.50 per month. BC Hydro claims this is required to recover the cost of paying workers to read the old analogue meters. But this was shown to be a ruse when the public learned that 46,000 Smart Meter owners were still having their meters manually read, but not being charged for it; while those who didn't accept Smart Meters were being charged for this same service. . . .

Dec 11

Auditor General finds failures in smart meter program (Ontario)

Video / Excerpts from Auditor General's Report

Bonnie Lysyk [Ontario's Auditor General] says the program has failed to meet targets for reducing peak electricity demand, hasn't changed Ontarians' consumption patterns and hasn't affected hydro bills in a positive way. CityNews reporter Cynthia Mulligan has more on how much more Ontarians have been paying for electricity.

Excerpts from the report, the $$meter section is at http://www.auditor.on.ca/en/reports_en/en14/311en14.pdf pages 362-404.

i) As well, the benefits of Smart Metering in reducing distribution companies' operating costs and reducing electricity bills to ratepayers were so far limited: Of the distri­bution companies we consulted, 95% said they real­ized no savings and their operating costs actually rose, and over half said they received a high volume of ratepayer complaints about "increased bills with no savings."

ii) In 2013, separate studies released by the Ontario Power Authority and the OEB indicated that TOU pricing had a modest impact on residential ratepay­ers, reducing their peak demand by only about 3%, but a limited or unclear effect on small businesses, and none at all on energy conservation.

iii) Those distribution companies that did track complaints found that most ratepayers were upset about TOU pricing, which they believed resulted in higher electricity bills than previously.

iv) The IESO has exclusive authority to develop and operate a provincial data centre in which to process smart-meter data for the province. However, the goal of operating the provincial data centre as a central system to ensure standard and cost-effective data processing has not been met because most dis­tribution companies have used their own systems to process smart-meter data (before transmitting it to, or after receiving it from, the provincial data cen­tre) for billing purposes.

v) There are 73 distribution companies across Ontario, each responsible for procuring, installing and operating smart-meter systems. Each distribution company negotiated with different vendors to procure sys­tems for their regions. As a result of the different costs incurred by distribution companies, we noted that the average cost per meter was about $190, but varied significantly, ranging from $81 per meter at one distribution company to $544 per meter at another.

vi) The installation of about 4.8 million smart meters in Ontario rendered millions of conven­tional analog meters obsolete, making it necessary to retire and dispose of them sooner than planned. The distribution companies we consulted said the analog meters they had to scrap were still in good shape and could have been used for another five to 16 more years.

vii) another additional cost is related to the replacement of smart meters, which will likely further increase the Delivery Charge on electricity bills because smart meters would be subject to earlier and more frequent replacement than analog meters.

The estimated useful life for a typical smart meter is 15 years, compared to 40 years for an analog meter. The dis­tribution companies we consulted said the 15-year estimate is overly optimistic because smart meters:

• are subject to significant technological chan­ges, making it difficult to maintain hardware and software for the first-generation meters, which do not have the advanced functions of newer models;

• have complex features, such as radio com­munications and digital displays, which are subject to higher malfunction and failure rates;

• are similar to other types of information tech­nology, computer equipment and electronic devices in that they are backed by short war­ranty periods and require significant upgrades or more frequent replacements as the technol­ogy matures; and

• will likely be obsolete by the time they are re-verified as required by the federal agency Measurement Canada every six to 10 years

viii) About 4.8 million smart meters have been installed by distribution companies across Ontario, but approximately 812,000 of them, or about one in six, have not transmitted any data to the prov­incial data centre for processing. (Note: 812,000 being manually read)

ix) Smart meters enable the collec­tion of massive amounts of personal electricity-use data, allowing ratepayers and distribution com­panies--as well as anyone else with access to the data--to see exactly what makes up a ratepayer's electricity use. The smart-meter data could reveal when people are out, daily routines and changes in those routines. As a result, electricity-use patterns could be mined, for example, for marketing and advertising purposes.

x) Therefore, there could be security risks at the distribution-company level that the IESO was not aware of and over which it had no control.

xi) The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM), Ontario's principal adviser on fire protec­tion policy and safety issues, indicated that it is aware of fires involving smart meters in Ontario, elsewhere in Canada, and in the United States. However, some distribution companies and fire departments do not report such cases to the OFM, so more information is needed to assess the extent of the problem in Ontario.

xii) From May 2011 to March 2013, for example, the OFM recorded 14 fires involving either meters or the bases on which they were mounted. Based on anecdotal evidence, the OFM identified three possible root causes for the fires:

  • old meter base connections may have been loose or otherwise unfit for a seamless exchange to a new smart meter; 
  • new smart meters may have been improperly installed; or 
  • new smart meters may have had defects that caused electrical failures or misalign­ment with the old meter base 

xiii) In February 2007, and again in Octo­ber 2012, the ESA indicated that it has been aware of potential fire risks in smart meters, and incidents of property damage involv­ing smart meters and/or meter bases. To address these concerns, the ESA surveyed the distribution companies, asking them to provide information on such incidents. However, the ESA indicated that it has not received sufficient information to conclude on the severity of the issue or the types of meters causing problems.

xiv) Insufficient tracking and monitoring of smart meters-related fire incidents has made it difficult to determine the scope and extent of the problem across the province as well as to address the prob­lem accordingly, creating safety risks in Ontario. 

NB this amazing revelation in the last line of the article:

"Nevertheless, the ministry promised not to take on any more $2-billion projects without thinking them through.  "In line with best practice, the Ministry will ensure that the proper analysis is completed ahead of implementing major initiatives," it said in its formal written reply, included in the report.

Reevely: Smart meters failing to political decisions, auditor general finds (with video)
NEWS: Ontarians paying billions extra for electricity, auditor general finds (Canadian Press)

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Smart Meter Petition (Hard Copy)

Download and print this petition form -- Refuse Smart Meter Installation.

Send completed petitions 15 signatures per page to:
Una St. Clair


e-mail: una@citizensforsafetechnology.org