To the editor:
This is an open letter to Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett.
I am writing with a charge the legacy fees being applied by BC Hydro are discriminatory and in violation of your intent as stated to the public, as well as in Directive 4, Meter Choice.
In numerous articles, you explained the special opt-out fees charged to those with non-smart meters were required to cover “extra costs and manual meter readings.”
The public and the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) was led to believe all smart meters were being read remotely, and that only “legacy meters” required manual reading, which results in additional costs.
This was not true.
Many smart meters are not fully functional, requiring manual reading, and many will require this additional service for some time to come. These customers are not being charged additional fees for this additional service.
According to Section 25 of the Utilities Commission Act, BC Hydro cannot act in a manner that is unfair, unreasonable or discriminatory.
I charge BC Hydro, by providing a service to some customers without an additional fee while charging other customers $32.40 per month for the very same service, is unfair, unreasonable and discriminatory.
The BCUC believes it has no authority to respond to this charge because it has no authority in any aspect of the smart meter program except setting rates. I argue the BCUC is abrogating its limited responsibility since this complaint pertains to rates, but the BCUC is responding to pressure from your office.
Therefore, I ask you, Mr. Bennett, to order BC Hydro to stop this discriminatory practise until all smart meters are fully functional and are being read remotely. All monies collected illegally to date should be refunded.
If you refuse to do so, I ask you please to justify and explain your decision to the citizens of British Columbia to allow a Crown corporation to treat its customers in a manner which is illegal under the Utilities Commission Act and runs counter to your own directive.
Sharon Noble, director
Coalition to Stop Smart Meters