Thursday, September 29, 2011

About those smart meters

I am not much worried about personal health risks from smart meters. For one thing, it would be hypocritical, since I happily enjoy WiFi, don't exercise enough and undoubtedly fail to do all I could to ensure good health. (I shun cellphones, but only because I don't like to talk to people on any phone.)
And I accept the experts who say that if there is a health risk, it's tiny beyond measure.
But I am troubled that this is a politically driven, $900-million project with no public consultation or any independent assessment of the costs and benefits. In fact, the government passed legislation that specifically prevented the B.C. Utilities Commission from assessing the smart meter project and determining if it was in the best interest of B.C. Hydro customers. If it was a sound, cost-effective initiative, then utilities commission review would have been in the government's best interest.
I am unconvinced that the ultimate result won't be time-of-use billing - that power in peak periods won't cost more than electricity in low-demand times. B.C. Hydro continues to raise that possibility; it's only the Liberal politicians who claim it won't happen. (It's actually a perfectly sound idea; encouraging off-peak use reduces the need for additional generating capacity and saves everyone money.)
And I am sympathetic to people who are doing everything possible to avoid radiofrequency electronic magnetic fields but now are being forced to accept them by government.
What's been most striking about the smart meter debate at UBCM this week is how little the Liberal government learned from the HST debacle.
Energy Minister Rich Coleman said he didn't care how many people were concerned and didn't want the meters. The government is going ahead, with no exceptions.
The message - as it was with the HST - is that people are just too stupid to know what's good for them. Municipal councils that passed resolutions calling for a moratorium on installations, or opt-out provisions, were dismissed as equally dim.
There are undoubtedly times governments have to go ahead with unpopular measures.
But, in this case, why not let people opt out? Or provide an incentive - a $20 B.C. Hydro credit - for accepting a meter? Why not let the utilities commission asses the costs and benefits to customers?
The government is, effectively, saying the families concerned about the meters, and the municipal councils supporting them, are just too clueless to be taken seriously.
And that, as we've seen, ends unhappily for those in power.


Anonymous said...

The smart meters only benefit BC Liberal insiders who did the deal with BC Hydro.


DPL said...

They know we must be a bit dim, after all, they are still government, and will be for awhile yet.

Norm Farrell said...

Liberals should appoint a Commissioner of Common Sense, someone to review programs before they are imposed, to identify obvious stupidity either in application or justification.

Paul, I nominate you for theposition.

Anonymous said...

The Campbell/Clark Liberals' claim that time of use billing isn't their principal focus with smart metering can only mean the following:

time of use billing is the primary goal of the programme;

your (our) electricity rates will be going right through the roof;

there is little doubt the Campbell/Clark Liberals have been sneaking around and colluding with their friends and insiders to make this a done deal for years by now.

Once time of use billing takes effect, as it will, BC will have senior citizens eating cold supper and sleeping in long underwear and sweaters - that is if they want to eat, 'cause they sure won't be able to pay for the heat.

Raymond Graham

Anonymous said...

Gussy said...

I'm sorry but this line is bull. "And I am sympathetic to people who are doing everything possible to avoid radio frequency electronic magnetic fields but now are being forced to accept them by government."

Radio frequency is around no matter what, Radio has been going on longer than cell towers and both are inescapable. If you do escape from them you won't be having electricity, or even be alive. From my understanding the earth even puts them off. Hence the Aurora Borelis.

As for smart meters, i look forward to being about to control my power usage from my office at home, and vice versa. Yes it is a lot of money, but seeing that investment in upgrading the grid has been put off all over Canada. I think it is reasonable to do it now, whilst we have the base to pay for it. Putting something off for future generations isn't sound either.

BC has some of the cheapest electricity in the world, due to our dams and other projects. I would rather have smart meters than the port mann bridge.

Bernard von Schulmann said...

Time of use billing has to come because it is the only way to spread out the electrical load more than now. We have a grid and production system that has to meet very high peaks in use and then has these serious troughs in use at night. We get charged the same at the peak hour as we do for when there is no demand, where is the incentive to move use to non peak hours.

Even a slightly more even usage pattern would reduce the demand for new power production. A moderate one would mean we can look at taking coal fired power plants off line.

Effective and efficient load management means we need changes in how and when we get data from the end users. Shaping demand will only happen with variable pricing

Norm Farrell said...

Time of use billing does make sense but what does not make sense is the government lying about the intention.

Spare us silly claims that some wonk intends to control "power usage from office at home, and vice versa" or that Hydro will be able to identify widespread outages more quickly.

The main purpose of smart meters is straightforward - to match consumption with generation. The rationing is done by price. Another benefit is that meters can be read remotely.

Simple. Why do Liberals insist on avoiding the truth; are the so attuned to misleading us they cannot stop?