B.C. Utilities Commission made into ‘farce’ by Victoria: NDP 0
A B.C. smart meter. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
Victoria has ordered the B.C. Utilities Commission to refrain from challenging Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett’s decision to charge fees for anyone wishing to opt out of smart meter installations.
What the commission can do, however, is determine how much residents are charged to opt out.
The order-in-council made on Sept. 24 also makes it clear the commission can’t require BC Hydro to install an analog meter to anyone who already has a smart meter.
In a statement, the New Democrats said the decision makes a “farce” of the independent utilities regulator.
“If the Liberals had allowed the BCUC to do its job and fully evaluate this program from the beginning, we would not be where we are today,” said NDP energy critic John Horgan.
“Instead, this government muscled out the independent regulator and tried to manage BC Hydro politically, with disastrous results.”
According to the order from the government, anyone who currently has an analog meter could be forced to go wireless if their old meter expires and a non-radio replacement is unavailable.
“The government’s directive does not provide the BCUC with the authority to review the smart meter program or the terms and conditions of the opt-out program,” government spokesman Matt Gordon said.
In letters to customers, Hydro has said it wants to charge $35 a month for smart meter holdouts. Those who already have smart meters can pay $100 to disable the transmitters, plus a $20 fee for manual reading costs.