Homeowner, B.C. Hydro butt heads over smart-meter installation

With so many people still raising the alarm about the installation of smart meters, one Prince George household is ready to welcome the change.

But for the past year and a half, Willow Arune and Sonia Pang have gone back and forth with BC Hydro over the lack of adequate space for a new meter to be installed.

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Arune and Pang were advised the space their current meter resides is too tight to allow for the changeover and that they need to make the hole a couple inches wider.

But, Arune argued, two elderly women shouldn't be expected to do the work themselves, nor are they able to afford to hire someone.

In addition, their Milburn Avenue neighbourhood is fairly transient, said Pang, meaning the pair don't usually get to know the neighbours well enough to ask for such a favour.

The neighbours they do have a relationship with have the kind of physical limitations one would associate with an older demographic, Arune added.

Arune said she thought the matter settled over the summer after a conversation with the company representative led her to believe someone would come to do the work, despite it not being able to guarantee it would be the prettiest of work. However, no one ended up coming by for the installation.

A letter from the Crown corporation informed the pair they had until Dec. 1 to decide whether they wanted to keep their old meter at a charge of $35 per month, or pay $100 to have a radio-off meter installed, which then comes with a $20 monthly charge.

"We can afford neither," Arune wrote in an email to BC Hydro. "Implicit in these threats are that you will cut off service if these additional charges are not paid."

BC Hydro community relations manager Bob Gammer said customers are responsible for ensuring adequate space around the meter and if it isn't there, to obtain the help they need.

"We are continuing to have a conversation with the customer about this particular meter situation," said Gammer.

"There's lots of homeowners, particularly of our age, who don't have access to these things," said Arune, adding BC Hydro should have someone on staff capable of doing the work. She also said she was never informed what size the smart meter would be.

The new meters are the same size as the ones being replaced, Gammer clarified.

While he wouldn't say this type of complaint is frequent in the smart meter changeover process, Gammer said it is common. "I do believe it's a situation our meter installation teams have experienced around the province."


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