Smart meters will push B.C.’s underground marijuana industry back outside, says a marijuana legalization activist who hosts an online television show.
Pot TV host, reporter/videographer Mik Mann, of Port Alberni, was among more than 200 people who heard public speaker Jerry Flynn talk about the harmful electromagnetic waves emitted by smart meters at a Nanaimo forum Feb. 19.
B.C. Hydro says while smart meters will improve customer service, they will also allow authorities to more easily detect hydroelectric thefts, helping to find illegal grow-ops.
Mann was there to video-record Flynn’s presentation, possibly to broadcast at a later date.
Mann, who is a licensed grower, acknowledged growers fear smart meters will impact B.C.’s underground cannabis industry.
“People thinking of getting into an illegal grow know there is no way around it with smart meters,” Mann said.
“That’s why people are going to go back to growing outdoors, back to the ‘60s and ‘70s, when everyone grew outside. This is what is going to be the norm.”
That could move problems associated with the industry from behind closed doors into the great outdoors.
“You’ll see more people trespassing. People will divert water. There will be garbage in the forest. It’s bad enough when I go out into the forest now, I see old refrigerators.”
B.C. Hydro was given a one-year extension in December to finish installing smart meters in B.C. homes and businesses.
At that time, the meter installation program had reached 93 per cent of customers, for a total of 1.73 million devices.
The provincial government extended the deadline for installation from Dec. 31 to the end of this year.
Flynn disputes the notion many of those behind the push to stop the meters is a thinly-disguised campaign to protect pot growers “I think one of the reasons (smart meters are) being put in, and probably the only real reason they’re being put in, B.C.. Hydro realizes it generates extra income for them, because (analogue meters) are always a bit off,” Flynn said.
Hydro theft, mainly through grow-ops, costs the Crown corporation up to $150 million a year.
Once the entire hydro grid is connected to smart meters, “we will look at what consumption is for an area and at what the (metered) billing is, and if we see a discrepancy it’s something we can investigate,” said B.C. Hydro spokesman Ted Olynyk.
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