Smart meter charge is punitive, Macdonald says

$35 a month charge for those who opt for no smart meter

Minister of Energy Bill Bennett issued an order to the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) last week to  charge fees high enough to meet the cost of manually checking mechanical power meters.

Some 60,000 British Columbians have refused the installation of wireless “smart” meters. They have until December 1 to decide if they will accept a smart meter or pay the cost of keeping the old meter.

Effective December 1, if a customer has refused a smart meter, or requested that the radio transmitter be turned off, they will pay $35 per month to cover costs.

That amount is punitive, says Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.

“It’s punitive. It doesn’t reflect the true cost of getting the information. Its wrong.”

Macdonald says that the provincial Liberal government removed the BCUC from looking at it and seeing if it’s a fair price.

“There is a cost to refusing the new system, but it should reflect the actual cost.”

A Bennett spokesperson told Tom Fletcher from Black Press last week that the BCUC may still decide to lower the opt-out fee proposed by BC Hydro or it may increase them if costs warrant.

Macdonald doubts the BCUC will change anything after an order from the Ministry.

“The BCUC has been kept away from the whole smart meter process,” Macdonald said. “We will pay $1 billion for smart meters and there is no business plan to explain it.  Things like this should be looked at by the B.C. Utilities Commission, but it’s been kept away.