$35 monthly fee starts in December for people who reject smart meter

B.C. Hydro customers who refuse a smart meter will begin paying $35 a month in December, after the province’s independent power regulator granted interim approval for the fees.

The B.C. Utilities Commission has given the temporary go-ahead for $35 monthly fees to customers who want to keep their old analogue power meter, effective Dec. 2.

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The commission has also given interim approval for a $20-a-month fee, and one-time $100 charge, to disable the radio transmitters on new smart meters, effective April 1, 2014.

The commission can lower or increase the fees as part of a final decision it plans to make next year.

Hydro has said the monthly fees are necessary to cover the millions in extra capital and operating costs needed to accommodate as many as 60,000 customers who refuse to allow wireless smart meters.

Some customers fear the wireless transmitters in the meters might harm their health. The meters send power usage data directly to B.C. Hydro.

The commission’s interim decision also allows a $65 charge to customers who interfere with Hydro meter work, effective Oct. 25.

People and companies who want to register as interveners in the commission process can do so until Oct. 24, with written submissions concluding in early January.

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