LETTERS: Get smart on meters

Why did the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen wait two years before speaking up on smart meters?

There have been many letters and comments lately regarding the smart meters that Fortis are installing, almost all citing health and safety concerns.

The Fortis letter (Western News, June 19, Disagree with column) at least gave some facts regarding the smart meter, however when such a letter comes from the supplier of the meters it is sometime viewed with disdain. I would like to fully endorse the Fortis comments.

I firmly believe that prolonged exposure to electro magnetic radiation (EMR) is harmful to our health. The level at which EMR becomes a problem is disputed by the two camps. On one hand we have Health Canada and on the other the levels recommended in the 2007 Bioinitiative report. Unfortunately Health Canada’s levels are over 1,000 times, or more, higher than that of the Bioinitiative report. The problem is that Health Canada refuses to consider the non-thermal effects of EMR as does the WHO. Having said that, the fear that has been expressed with regard to the smart meter is in my view misplaced.

The smart meter has two transmitters, one to transmit information to Fortis the other to talk to any smart appliances in the home. The latter is switched off, so to speak, when the meter is installed and can only be turned on with the home owner’s consent, and assuming they have smart appliances for it to talk to.

The other transmitter which gives information to Fortis does emit radio frequency (RF) power but in short bursts and at a relatively low-level when measured over the day. In the transcripts of the hearings at the BCUC the level of the smart meter was equal to that recommended by the 2007 Bioinitiative report and that is if you were standing in front of the meter, the actual amount of EMR entering the home is at least 1/10th of that figure. To put that in context WiFi found everywhere can be up to 100 times greater than the smart meter, a cellphone anything from 300 to 2,000 or more especially as it is in close proximity to the body. If you have a cordless telephone they are even worse.

As for a fire risk there have been fires as a result of some smart meter installation, the most notable being in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Portland, Oregon, where installation was stopped and the meters removed. All these incidents used Sensus meters not the Itron that Fortis are installing.  To label a meter a fire risk just because a different brand has problems is like saying we should not buy a car just because GM had problems; it makes no sense.

In addition, the Fire Chiefs of B.C. have wholeheartedly supported the installation of these meters. One letter said they should not install meters without consultation with the public, all I can say is where have you been? Fortis began their smart meter application in 2012 which carried over to the hearings with the BCUC in May 2013; the hearings included three community input sessions which were held in Trail, Osoyoos and Kelowna; there are 14 volumes of the transcripts of the community meetings and the hearings on the BCUC website.

The question I have for the RDOS director for area D and his expert advisor or anyone else that had significant concerns, why did they not attend the BCUC sessions as an intervener or interested party? And why wait two years before speaking up?

Colin Harlingten

Penticton