The pinnacle of smart-meter phobia seems to have been reached last summer.
In the universe of known concerns about the units, opposition moved from the understandable worries out to the furthest reaches of the galaxy.
The best example was an account from the Merritt Herald last month of a presentation from the Interior Smart Meter Awareness group.
A spokesman showed military reports about the "devastating" effects of radio frequency. "They can monitor your heart rate when you are inside the cloud of your house. They have actually found ways to pull your PIN number directly out of your head."
If the thought of B.C. Hydro gathering your bank-card number "directly out of your head" didn't stop people in their tracks, the speaker listed a host of other side-effects.
They kill bees.
They allow for the interior of people's homes to be viewed on a monitor.
They contribute to defective sperm and eggs.
A novel defence of the startling claims was offered by another speaker, who said if someone can say such things and not be sued, then "you're looking at a man who is telling the truth."
All this, of course, despite the clean bill of health from all the agencies who regulate such things and find the emanations from smart meters pale in comparison to what gadgets like cell-phones and baby monitors put out.
The awareness event reportedly drew 20 people.
A far more mundane concern was discussed in B.C. Hydro documents that were published this week in response to a media freedom-of-information request.
The issue addressed was: Do the things actually work properly?
For all the worries about sperm counts, bees and meters that can suck your PIN right out of your brain, the most common concern has always been: Do they charge you properly for your consumption?
Hydro's account of the meters' performance -- as would be expected -- indicates that they work as advertised. It also shows that some people were pretty quick to blame the meters for problems that didn't even exist.
The memo cites some examples of complaints that got some media play, but that Hydro said didn't check out.
One customer said his bill had jumped 60 per cent after a smart meter was installed. A check showed that in the 84 days after the smart meter, his consumption had actually decreased compared to the previous 36 days.
Another said his bill doubled to $885 after the smart meter. A check showed his bill was actually lower than it had been for the same billing period the previous year.
For all the concerns that were aired about that issue, Hydro has identified only six bills that had to be adjusted due to a malfunctioning new meter.
Four of the bills were too high and two were too low.
The memo said that during the winter of 2011-12, as smart meters were being installed by the tens of thousands, they got more bill inquiries from customers with analog meters than from those with smart meters.
When Hydro reached the two-thirds installed mark last spring, the percentage of problems of any kind was put at 0.1 per cent.
Ninety per cent of them -- 1.7 million -- are now installed, although they are still being read manually while the back-end technology is installed. B.C. Hydro started residential installation on the Gulf Islands this week.
The refusal rate has been growing steadily, but is still comparatively small. It reached two per cent last spring and is now about four per cent, meaning about 80,000 customers have declined them.
The utility's policy is to hold off on installation while staff work with the customer to address concerns.
They also present the opportunity to have the meter moved to a different location on their property.
Although the refusal rate is quite low, it looks as if Hydro has a lot of work ahead in convincing the holdouts to go along and accept the new technology.
About 6,900 people who initially refused meters have been convinced by Hydro to change their minds
That leaves tens of thousands more holdouts to be convinced on a case-by-case basis.
It should provide a few more years of stories about smart meters that are nothing if not entertaining.
© Copyright 2013