A group of outspoken Greater Trail residents plan to make their voices heard on “smart meters” at a province-wide rally held outside the FortisBC building in Trail Wednesday.
Sharon Noble, director of the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters, said she hopes Trail’s efforts will spread word on a process other residents of B.C. have already “unwillingly” gone through.
“We – Hydro’s customers – did not have that opportunity since Hydro did not have to apply to BCUC (B.C. Utilities Commission),” said the Victoria resident. “People should take full advantage of this and head this off before it can get started.”
The coalition has scheduled its rallies strategically on the same day as Pink Shirt Day, a national anti-bullying day.
“The purpose of the rally is to tell people that Hydro is intimidating and bullying and it seems to be an appropriate day because Premier Christy Clark called for the Pink Shirt Day to complain about the bullying that’s going on generally in schools,” said Noble. “We support that entirely but bullying in schools and bullying people in their own homes, neither one is right.”
While these meters have already been implemented in other parts of the province, FortisBC is finalizing its application to the BCUC for an advanced metering infrastructure program in this region. Should the BCUC grant approval, the utility would initiate replacement of existing electro-mechanical and digital meters with advanced meters by 2015.
“We still have to go through a very public and transparent process so we are a bit different in that we’re going through the whole regulatory process to even see if we can go forward with the advance metering process,” explained Neal Pobran, FortisBC corporate communications advisor.
If given the green light, nearly all of the existing 112,000 meters in the Southern Interior will be replaced with the advanced units.
Pobran notes there would be many benefits involved with the switchover including real-time electricity information, theft prevention and improved power outage restoration.
While the coalition highlights its concern wireless radiation can have on people with health issues like multiple sclerosis or epilepsy, Pobran remains confident that health experts are claming the devices to be perfectly safe.
Protest signs will be on site for those interested in joining the rally on Esplanade Avenue from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Wednesday.
For more information on the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters visit, www.stopsmartmetersbc.ca