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Are smart meters dumb?

A group of “citizens for safe technology” gathered in Kelowna Thursday night to protest BC Hydro and FortisBC’s wireless hydro-electric meter plans and to hear a talk given by an industry whistleblower.

The group of about 20 people gathered in front of the Rotary Arts Centre, holding signs that accused the push for “smart” meters as undemocratic and a threat to human health.

Similar sentiments were echoed inside the Arts Centre, where former electronic warfare naval officer, 77-year-old Jerry Flynn, presented his arguments about how the meters and the accompanying mesh grid pose a serious threat to human health.

“Cell phones today are what tobacco was 40 years ago,” Flynn told an audience of just over 100 people, citing the Lloyd’s of London.

“There is nothing more harmful to a bio-electric being than a pulsing microwave.”

Flynn, who decided to step forward after his daughter raised concerns about smart meters two years ago, says the level of harmful microwave radiation from common wireless devices is more or less the same (typically at a frequency of 2.4 gigahertz), whether it's from cell phones, cordless phones, baby monitors as well as smart meters and water meters.

BC Hydro claims their smart meters, which contain two transmitters that communicate with other meters as well as a neighbourhood collector (all making up a mesh grid), are safe and that exposure over 20 years is no worse than exposure to a 30-minute cell phone call (See Hydro's own FAQ on health concerns over its smart meters). 

FortisBC says its advanced meters (smart meters) operate around 900 MHz, which is similar to a household cordless phone and emit far less EMF (electromagnetic fields) than many of the common electronic devices, such as microwaves or laptop computers. Fortis BC adds that the emission levels fall well below all regulations set by Industry Canada’s Safety Code 6.

BC Hydro is currently installing smart meters across the province, most recently in West Kelowna, while FortisBC has applied to rollout the meters in Kelowna by 2015.

The BC government implemented the smart meter rollout under the 2010 Clean Energy Act, requiring every hydro customer to have a smart meter.

Flynn pointed out that the Clean Energy Act does not require the smart meters to be wireless and referenced other places in the world using wired smart meters, whether through fibre optic cables or through telephone lines.


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