BCUC approves Meter Choices fees

Smart meter opponents facing fees for not taking smart meters

The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) has approved the Meter Choices Program fees that will apply to customers who choose to retain an old hydro meter or a radio-off meter instead of a smart meter.

BC Hydro filed an application in the fall of 2013 to recover fees to offset the expense of providing meter options to eligible customers.

The BCUC determined the cost for customers who have retained an old meter will be $32.40 a month, while the cost for customers who chose a radio-off meter will be $20 a month.

The set up cost for a radio-off meter will be $22.60 with an exit fee of $55 for an overall fee of about $77.

Due to some of the final fees differing from the interim rate, BC Hydro will adjust customers’ bills accordingly.

The fees to retain an old meter came into effect Dec. 2, 2013, while the fees for a radio-off meter were effective as of April 1, 2014.

Last summer, the B.C. Liberal government announced three choices for eligible residential customers who refused to have a smart meter installed:

• A standard smart meter at no cost;

• A radio-off meter for a $100 set-up fee and $20 monthly fee; and

• Keeping an old meter for a $35 monthly fee as long as stock lasts.

The province notes the BCUC’s role was to independently review the fees.

However, Lac la Hache resident Gary Young, who has vigorously opposed the B.C. Liberal government’s smart meter program since it was introduced, says the “so-called approval of fees on metering isn’t an approval at all.”

Young vociferously opposed the smart meter program because it was being foisted on British Columbians.

“This is just another twisted move by our B.C. Liberal government to get its way, and with the majority, it has. There is little or no need to seek any real approval from the citizens and taxpayers.”

If BC Hydro is broke as the government claims, then it is the B.C. Liberals who siphon off millions of dollars from the fees already in place, Young says.

“Now, we have large increases that put seniors and others in a situation of [getting] less for their money than ever before.”

Approximately 68,000 or three per cent of BC Hydro customers had the option of making a choice as part of the Meter Choices Program.

Young was one of the BC Hydro customers who refused to have a smart meter installed on his home, and the Lac la Hache resident vowed he wouldn’t pay the extra fees.

However, he had the meter installed when lawyers told him there was no way he could avoid paying the fees.

“I certainly think it is typical of the B.C. Liberal government to use financial extortion and threats through BC Hydro to get what people don’t want,” Young concludes.