About those smart meters

I am not much worried about personal health risks from smart meters. For one thing, it would be hypocritical, since I happily enjoy WiFi, don't exercise enough and undoubtedly fail to do all I could to ensure good health. (I shun cellphones, but only because I don't like to talk to people on any phone.)
And I accept the experts who say that if there is a health risk, it's tiny beyond measure.
But I am troubled that this is a politically driven, $900-million project with no public consultation or any independent assessment of the costs and benefits. In fact, the government passed legislation that specifically prevented the B.C. Utilities Commission from assessing the smart meter project and determining if it was in the best interest of B.C. Hydro customers. If it was a sound, cost-effective initiative, then utilities commission review would have been in the government's best interest.
I am unconvinced that the ultimate result won't be time-of-use billing - that power in peak periods won't cost more than electricity in low-demand times. B.C. Hydro continues to raise that possibility; it's only the Liberal politicians who claim it won't happen. (It's actually a perfectly sound idea; encouraging off-peak use reduces the need for additional generating capacity and saves everyone money.)
And I am sympathetic to people who are doing everything possible to avoid radiofrequency electronic magnetic fields but now are being forced to accept them by government.
What's been most striking about the smart meter debate at UBCM this week is how little the Liberal government learned from the HST debacle.
Energy Minister Rich Coleman said he didn't care how many people were concerned and didn't want the meters. The government is going ahead, with no exceptions.
The message - as it was with the HST - is that people are just too stupid to know what's good for them. Municipal councils that passed resolutions calling for a moratorium on installations, or opt-out provisions, were dismissed as equally dim.
There are undoubtedly times governments have to go ahead with unpopular measures.
But, in this case, why not let people opt out? Or provide an incentive - a $20 B.C. Hydro credit - for accepting a meter? Why not let the utilities commission asses the costs and benefits to customers?
The government is, effectively, saying the families concerned about the meters, and the municipal councils supporting them, are just too clueless to be taken seriously.
And that, as we've seen, ends unhappily for those in power.

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