If I make one claim now, you will know where this piece is going. “We hardly had any lights on and we didn’t use any electric heat, and yes we take a shower each day.”
That’s right. You’ve got it. We have lived in our new condo/townhouse/ carriage home complex for 60 days and yesterday we received our first hydro bill. We immediately took issue with the exorbitant total amount. A punch line is coming but before I deliver it, get this.
Smart Meters they’re called. BC Hydro in British Columbia, is implementing Itron smart meters to all customers by the end of 2012. They enable hourly remote 2-way communication between the meter and the central information gathering hub. BC Hydro promoted to consumers that smart metering offers potential benefits including an end to estimated billing, a major source of our collective complaints. When Christine called BC Hydro she was met with a congenial response and then this predictable default but now superfluous answer. “It is only an estimate.” Really?
A Smart Meter was installed at our old house before we sold. New owners have to deal with the outcomes. Here at the new condo/townhouse/carriage home complex, Smart meters are contained in a clandestine concrete bunker into which residents are permitted only in the company of the property manager or custodian. Christine will be entering this subterranean vault today to read the data. This was suggested by the respondent at the BC Hydro monitoring centre which Christine called yesterday.
There has been a great deal of consumer resistance to this obligatory appliance. In some countries, American states or districts, but not in Canadian provinces, there have been moratoriums, delays, and "opt-out" programs arising in response to the concerns of customers and government officials.
The two main reasons for complaint are health and privacy.
The health concerns about the meters arise from the pulsed radiofrequency (RF) radiation emitted by smart meters. Privacy concerns focus upon the collection of detailed data about customers and their habits, the accessibility of that data through the utility and possibly, at the site of the meter as well as the potential for sharing of detailed personal information without the knowledge or desire of customers.
The meters have the capacity for extensive data collection and analysis which moves far beyond the consumer purchase of a utility. Contrary to B.C. Government claims, I do not believe smart meters provide any financial benefit to consumers. The multi-million dollar cost for installation of the meters will be rolled back into consumer bills. This device records consumption in intervals of an hour or less, communicating that data for monitoring and billing purposes. This permits time-of-day electricity pricing so that at peak daily and seasonal utility usage periods, consumers will pay more. Consumers will need to adjust their consumption habits to be more responsive to market prices. However, it is unlikely that unless the consumer has an in-home (or on-line) display and well-designed programme that successfully informs, engages, empowers and motivates people, that this self regulation can occur.
Here are some sites that express displeasure and concerns about Smart Meters: