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Fortis defends smart meters

FortisBC is defending its Advanced Metering Infrastructure project in the wake of calls to halt the installation of smart meters.

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen voted last week to petition the province to stop installation of meters it claims are dangerous.

In a response, Mark Warren director of customer service, technology and systems said the motion passed by the RDOS does not take into account the extensive public regulatory process, which included a variety of expert witnesses.

Warren said the B.C. Utilities Commission concluded the advanced meter project is in the public interest and does not pose a health risk to customers of the utility.

"FortisBC is continuing with advanced meter installations as the project has met all of the regulatory, legal and industry requirements," said Warren.

"Wireless advanced meters make it less costly for FortisBC to deliver electricity to you by reducing theft and reducing meter-reading costs."

Warren further stated as many as 50 million smart meters have been installed across North America as utility companies look for ways to provide electricity service at the lowest reasonable cost.

The RDOS resolution states, in part, the smart meters being installed by FortisBC throughout the South Okanagan are neither UL approved nor CSA certified and, therefore, by the B.C. Safety Standards Act must be certified safe by a professional electrical engineer licensed to work in B.C.

Warren countered smart meters do not require CSA approval since those standards govern only consumer products.

"Advanced meters are owned and operated by the utility, and are certified by the appropriate regulatory and certification bodies for these types of devices, such as IEEE, ANSI, and Industry Canada, and approved by Measurement Canada," said Warren.

He also contends the electromagnetic field emitted from the meters is less than that of baby monitors, cellphones and Wi-Fi monitors – and are well below recently revised Health Canada guidelines.

While consumers do have options, keeping the old meter is not one of them.

"Our customers still have the choice of either a standard wireless advanced meter or a radio-off advanced meter with the wireless signals disabled. The radio-off option has associated fees approved by the BCUC to cover the additional costs of providing this choice."

A petition circulated throughout the South Okanagan has been signed by 230 people asking the RDOS to decline approval of their installation until safety and human health risks have been disproven.

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