Smart meter installers broke in: condo president
Published Thursday, February 2, 2012 9:56AM PST
The strata president of a Vancouver Island condominium complex claims that smart meter installers broke into its meter room earlier this month to install the BC Hydro devices against the residents' wishes.
Brian Beckwall said every owner in his Ladysmith complex agreed they didn't want their meters replaced. He installed a sign on their behalf to inform BC Hydro and Corix to say they were not welcome to enter its shared hydro meter room.
But Beckwall said a smart meter installer ignored the sign and broke the lock on the door in order to complete the installation of the new devices earlier this month.
"We feel like we're frankly being bullied and pushed into something that we doubt has any benefit to the consumer whatsoever, and may have a serious health detriment," Beckwall said.
He alerted Ladysmith RCMP. No charges have been laid.
BC Hydro denies that the lock was broken, but Beckwall maintains it was an illegal entry. Beckwall said he installed a separate, new lock on the door that was accessible by two keys only -- and both were in his possession. Beckwall said installers asked for the key but he said no.
BC Hydro says it needs access to meter rooms to read, maintain and upgrade the devices. And it says residents like Beckwall who are opposed to the smart meters need to individually give seven days notice before the installation date that they do not want the meter swap to take place.
"Had he called us within the time period and asked us to delay the installation of his meter we would have respected that," said Cindy Verschoor, the communications manager of the smart meters program.
But Verschoor said Beckwall doesn't have the authorization to speak on behalf of all condo owners in his complex.
"Each customer needs to contact us on an individual basis with respect to their individual account," she said.
Hydro officials say less than one per cent of their 1.9 million B.C. customers are opposed to the smart meters, a number doubted by NDP Energy Critic John Horgan.
Horgan told CTV's Steele on Your Side he's been swamped with over 5,000 complaints since the meter conversion began.
"The people that have talked to me are very, very concerned that their government is intruding into their lives and they don't want them to," Horgan said. "No choice… no options… eat your porridge. That's the BC Liberal approach to smart meters."
Beckwall said he's still furious that his wishes and that of his neighbours were ignored.
"I found it quite shocking frankly. I thought we lived in a civil and democratic society, but apparently BC Hydro doesn't believe that, and now we have smart meters."
Beckwall says it doesn't matter whether BC Hydro portrays him as a crank or malcontent. He feels the anti-meter movement is gaining traction and he's hoping enough public pressure will result in an "opt-out" option for B.C. residents.
California's public utilities commission recently ruled that residential customers who are concerned about the safety of smart meters should be allowed to opt out of its program, but at their own expense.
Customers would be subject to a $90 initial fee and then a monthly charge of $10 for having the analog meter read manually.
Watch CTV News for a full report from Lynda Steele…
Have your say: What do you think of the new smart meters?