The Trail to Salmo area will be the first to go wireless after FortisBC rolls forward with smart meter installation this fall.
The company released a timeline for meter exchanges Friday, and confirmed that Greater Trail residents will be contacted by mail prior to the installation period scheduled from September to December.
With this announcement, a local politician remains dead set against the wireless technology but admits those opposed to smart meters are burning out and the rallying force against the FortisBC project is waning.
“At this point the only thing we can do is try to get a bunch of people together and become vocal again,” said Montrose Coun. Mary Gay. “But everyone is so burned out now and nobody wants to step forward to do it.”
Gay is a member of the West Kootenay Coalition to Stop Smart Meters, a group that joined forces last fall after FortisBC received the go-ahead from the province’s utility commission for the company’s $51 million Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project.
She remains a staunch opponent to smart meter technology, citing health hazards related to radiation levels emitted by the wireless networks and the high cost the infrastructure change will impose on the FortisBC customer.
Gay took part in a South Slocan rally on June 14, when about 50 people joined together to support a nationwide protest against the installation of the controversial smart meter.
“I don’t know how the heck this is all going to turn out,” she said. “But it’s disgusting what is happening at the expense of people’s health.”
Advanced meters, which are similar in appearance to the traditional model, are available to anyone choosing the radio-off (wireless) option, but require a $60 to $88 set-up fee and an ongoing $18 bi-monthly fee for a manual meter reading.
The Montrose councillor was ready to submit her paperwork to FortisBC Monday requesting the radio-off option, although she questioned the impact of her decision.
“You’re still getting a lot of the waves if your neighbours on either side of you don’t choose the radio-off option,” said Gay. “But I’m still opting out.
“People don’t seem to care until it’s too late and that’s the sad part of this.”
Those households going wireless with the ‘radio-on’ will be notified by mail this summer, however the customer doesn’t have to be at home during the meter exchange.
FortisBC asks for safe access to the meter and that pets be kept away from the site.
The AMI project affects only FortisBC electrical customers, totalling 130,000 homes and businesses stretching from Princeton in the west, through the Okanagan and West Kootenay, to Creston in the east.
According to FortisBC, smart meters will also prevent electricity theft and provide customers with more information and fewer bill estimates.