Smart meter opt-out possible: MLA Hogg
Information sent to a constituent by the office of Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg this week gave a flicker of new hope to opponents of BC Hydro's smart meters that individuals will be able to opt-out of the program.
The constituent was told that those who didn't consent to having a smart meter installed on their home "would not be forced" to accept one.
While he noted the information had been misinterpreted as a personal statement, Hogg, a BC Liberal MLA, told the Peace Arch News he doesn't feel the possibility of opting out of the smart meter program has been "conveyed appropriately" to the public.
Hogg's office was flooded with calls Tuesday – including media requests for interviews – after the information was published online by anti-smart meter group Citizens for Safe Technology.
Efforts by Peace Arch News to get confirmation from Energy Minister Rich Coleman have been un successful.
Hogg told PAN Wednesday that he stands by the information sent out by his office to the constituent, which was verified with Coleman's office.
The information provided stated: "Individual home owners who had not yet had a smart meter installed on their home, would not have to have one.
"BC Hydro may be contacting those 'hold outs' one last time and if you say 'no' and do not consent – that is the end of it. You will not be 'forced' into having one or be in fear of it being installed when you are not home."
Asked for clarification, Hogg referred to a press release and and Jan. 23 op-ed piece issued by Coleman.
"'BC Hydro will not install a new meter without the homeowner's consent' – that's the key message," Hogg said.
Acknowledging Coleman's description of a process of addressing customers' individual concerns as a prelude to final installation of smart meters, Hogg said he feels the message that an opt-out is possible is not getting out.
"I don't think that's been conveyed appropriately," he said. "I understand that people will not have any meters installed without their consent, and that, ultimately, people will have an opt-out."
He suggested the approach taken could be similar to "California, where people pay a certain amount each month to have a different meter."
BC Hydro's deadline for installing smart meters across the province has been extended until Dec. 31. Some 85,000 remain to be replaced, according to figures released by Coleman.
Citizens for Safe Technology and the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters estimate that more than 250,000 B.C. homeowners have "resisted having these devices, many on the basis of health conditions which could be exacerbated by the prolonged exposure to microwave radiation."
Both groups are actively encouraging those with concerns who have had smart meters already installed by BC Hydro to apply for their removal.