Following another power disconnection to a Sicamous resident, Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo showed support for BC Hydro and sympathy for those affected.
Around noon on Aug. 27, BC Hydro crews came to the home of Ruzena Labanic and gave her an ultimatum. They informed her they would be shutting off her power if she did not agree to replacing her analog hydro meter. Analog meters, along with digital meters, are considered to be outdated ‘legacy meters’ by BC Hydro and can be replaced by smart meters or radio-off smart meters that do not transmit any data back to the company. Citing health and safety concerns, Labanic refused to install either meter and, approximately half-an-hour later, her home fell silent as the power was disconnected.
“I don’t know how I’m feeling; it’s really weird. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Labanic said.
With no power running to her home, she has taken most of her food over to a neighbour’s house for safekeeping while she decides what to do next. Although her next steps are unclear, Labanic says she will continue to challenge the Crown corporation.
“If I want to fight BC Hydro I need internet and I need power to survive because my furnace is electric,” she said. “I will probably have to give in to the no-signal meter.”
By pure coincidence, at almost the exact same time the hydro crews were discussing the options Labanic had at her disposal, the Shuswap MLA arrived to speak with her on the same issue.
Labanic had been in contact with Kyllo’s constituency seeking support for her cause. In turn, Kyllo’s office contacted the hydro company for background. According to Kyllo, BC Hydro is contacting around 20 to 60 customers per week that have not had their meter exchanged . Some of these are due to non-intentional obstructions around the meter that have been in place for a number of years. In some cases the meter is built into the siding of the house and crews have been unable to access it to complete the exchange. The remaining are customers that have refused a smart meter.
“I certainly feel for Ruzena; it’s unfortunate. I did my best to try and encourage her to allow for the smart meter installation with the transmission function turned off,” Kyllo said. “I can appreciate that she has concerns over the transmission function of the smart meter, but despite assurances that portion would be turned off she still refused to have that smart meter installed.”
This is not the first time Kyllo has seen the smart meter debate. In 2013, when Kyllo was elected, the backlash against the smart meters was rampant. BC Hydro then came up with the radio off meter which appeased most residents and quelled the controversy – mostly.
Around that time, Kyllo also reached out to a general practitioner for a medical professional’s take on the alleged health risks posed by smart-meter technology.
“I asked him if he had any concerns with respect to the transmission function on a BC Hydro smart meter attached to his home with respect to any impact on the health of his family and he indicated absolutely not,” said Kyllo.
As the critic for BC Hydro, Kyllo believes the installation of smart meters has improved the ability of the utility to manage the distribution of electricity across the province.