Parties make smart meter pitches to Alberni

Parties on both sides of the smart meter debate made their pitches to Port Alberni city council.

A city councillor has served a notice of motion requesting a moratorium on the installation of B.C. Hyrdo smart meters.

Councillor Wendy Kerr made the motion Monday, citing health and safety concerns.

At the Jan. 23 meeting, council heard from both sides of the issue.

There has been a lot of misinformation about smart meters, Hydro spokesperson Ted Olynyk said.

The misinformation includes BC Hydro “knowing when you’re having sex, when you’re showering and when you have company over,” Olynyk said. Pointing to a lined graph on the screen, he said “That’s all we see.”

Other misinformation involves the meters’ use of radio frequency. Smart meters “have one one-hundredth the strength of a cell phone,” Olynyk said. Four minutes of exposure to WIFI in a coffee shop equals one year’s worth of exposure to a smart meter, he added.

The driving force behind smart meters is the same one that drives televisions, computers and phones. “They’ve all been updated,” and so are smart meters, he said.

The meters will be able to monitor consumption more efficiently, aid in responding to outages more quickly, and help prevent rampant theft of electricity.

More than 650,000 smart meters have been installed in B.C. already. Some have been installed in Port Alberni with the rest scheduled for installation by summer.

Addressing council for the other side of the issue was Peter Boulton, a spokesperson for Citizens for Safe Technology.

According to Bolton, the key issue people have with meters is the potential negative health effects. “Mandatory exposure to wireless smart-meter emissions would cause severe suffering for many in our communities,” Bolton said.

Security and privacy issues also top the list of concerns the association has, as do health and safety risks. “Credible, independent scientists warn of radiation,” he said. The meters “are on all day every day.”

Making a motion calling for a moratorium is one thing but force and effect to carry it out is another.

“We have no authority; the city cannot direct BC Hydro,” city manager Ken Watson has said previously.

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