A letter from BC Hydro states the company has made repeated attempts at replacing a Sicamous resident’s legacy meter, but are unable to due to items she has intentionally placed in the way. (Ruzena Labanic)

Shuswap resident on disability fights BC Hydro smart meter installation

Crown corporation threatens to cut power unless it’s allowed to access, replace analog device

A Sicamous resident is fighting to keep her analog hydro meter citing health concerns posed by newer radio-transmitting meters.

Ruzena Labanic found a final disconnection notice in her mailbox on Friday, Aug. 9. The notice, dated July 31, explains the meter Labanic has is an expired ‘legacy meter’ that must be replaced. The letter states the company has made repeated attempts at replacing the meter but are unable to due to items Labanic has intentionally placed there being in the way.

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The letter requests that Labanic arranges for “unrestricted access” for the company to exchange the meter, otherwise her service will be disconnected. Labanic also received a monthly $32.40 charge for having the legacy meter.

The disconnection deadline was set for Wednesday, Aug. 14, two weeks after the letter was sent but eight days after she received it.

The notice also lays out Labanic’s options in terms of meter replacement. After paying a $55 exit fee, she can either have a standard smart meter installed, which comes with a one time installation fee of $22.60 and no monthly charges. However, for a non radio-transmitting version of the same meter, the installation cost remains the same but incurs a $20 monthly operating fee. The notice states the fee covers the costs of serving a non-communicating meter.

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Labanic is adamant she does not want any smart meter, radio transmitting or not, because she is concerned with the potential impact to her health.

“There’s history of fires, there’s history of people getting sick. I personally know two people who got sick after the meter was changed,” she said. “If you’re out of stock then order somewhere else, and if you don’t have it, then give people the option to order somewhere else.”

After an incident in 2,000 left Labanic with health issues causing her to rely on disability payments, she feels she is being unfairly treated by the hydro company.

“Picking on someone who cannot defend themselves, it’s just wrong,” she said.

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In an email responding to questions regarding Labanic’s request, BC Hydro states it is required by federal law that meters be re-verified and re-sealed every two to 10 years, and that the Crown corporation longer stocks the legacy meters.

“We have a responsibility to ensure the equipment we use to measure our customer’s electricity consumption is operating accurately,” the statement reads. “Meter replacements like this are a standard operating process for us and must be done to ensure our compliance with Measurement Canada and the continued safe and accurate operation of our system.”

Labanic said she asked BC Hydro for more time before disconnection and, as of Aug. 15, her residence was still receiving power.


@CameronJHT
Cameron.thomson@saobserver.net

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