The government and B.C. Hydro have to stop their bizarre dance about smart meters and tell British Columbians once and for all whether the program is mandatory.
Incomplete and contradictory messages have been coming from the government, the utility and some government MLAs. No one outside the halls of power understands what is going on, and the suspicion is that no one inside knows, either.
About 93 per cent of homes and businesses have had their old electricity meters swapped for new wireless smart meters, leaving about 120,000 still to go. Some of those are commercial customers, but about 85,000 are homeowners who refuse to have the devices installed.
Those people have put up signs or even built cages or boxes around their meters to keep the installers at bay. Most refuse them because they believe the wireless signals will damage their health.
Last month, B.C. Hydro told the Times Colonist it was making another push and the holdouts would be given new meters, like it or not. Days later, Energy Minister Rich Coleman said Hydro wouldn’t install the meters without consent. Staff would talk to holdouts and try to persuade them. Then Hydro said the same thing, but wouldn’t answer questions about whether it’s a temporary reprieve or a real end to the campaign.
To compound the confusion, Liberal MLA Gordon Hogg said that customers who say “no” one last time will not have meters forced on them.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Coleman and B.C. Hydro refused comment on all this and wouldn’t answer questions seeking clarification. Hydro only issued a statement that its staff will talk to customers about their concerns, but didn’t say what happens if the customers still refuse.
A Hydro spokesman did say the utility won’t remove smart meters that have already been installed, no matter how nicely you ask.
On Thursday, Coleman was asked again to clarify and reiterated that staff would talk to the holdouts and try to change their minds. He still wouldn’t say what happens to those who continue to refuse. Perhaps he fears election backlash.
Whatever the reason, Coleman’s dancing isn’t helping anyone. Sooner or later, he has to say what he will do about the die-hards, because no amount of reasoning is going to persuade them.
Maybe he thinks that if he delays until mid-May, the decision will become Adrian Dix’s.
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