BC Hydro's planned fee of $35 a month for people who continue to refuse wireless smart meters is "outrageous" and isn't justified based on what other jurisdictions charge, according to B.C.'s lone Green Party MLA.
Andrew Weaver (Oak Bay-Gordon Head) said the proposed charge for manual meter readings is as high a many people's entire power bills.
"People perceive it as price gouging," he said, adding the fees should accurately reflect Hydro costs and not generate extra profit."
Weaver pointed to some U.S. states that have similar opt-out programs from smart meters but charge much less.
California charges $10 a month after a $75 up-front fee, while low-income customers pay $5 a month after a $10 initial fee.
Maine charges $12 a month for analog meter readings, after a $40 initial charge.
BC Hydro's fees still require approval by the B.C. Utilities Commission.
Weaver said he's urging the regulators to reject the $35 fee here based on the disparity with charges elsewhere.
Holdouts here can also opt to take a smart meter with the transmitter disabled for a $100 one-time fee followed by $20 each month.
Maine's radio-disabled smart meter option costs $20 up front then $10.50 a month.
Weaver said he doesn't oppose wireless smart meters but added Hydro must provide a reasonable opt-out.
He said BC Hydro's price would be more logical if it were charged not monthly but on each actual meter reading every few months.