Government Hydro Sucks

By Caleb McMillan

In the last four years alone, BC Hydro has caused all kinds of trouble with increased rates, employee bonuses, infrastructure delays and negotiations that have left the taxpayer worse off than before.
BC Hydro dividends are paid out to the government, instead of going back to the ratepayers, making the power company more of a taxing agency than an actual service provider.
In a 2011 BC Hydro audit, it was revealed that while rates were increasing in double-digits, the Crown corporation was adding hundreds of people to its payroll, boosting salaries, pensions and benefits. It gave performance bonuses to 99 percent of its employees.
Energy decisions have become political discussions. In 2012 the BC government exempted BC Hydro from the BC Utilities Commission review, fearing that the Commission would advocate higher rates than BC Hydro was proposing. Someone forgot to mention that the BC government can overrule the Utilities Commission’s suggestion, that the "independent review" was necessary to keep BC Hydro accountable. 
Now all of this is mildly annoying but what really takes the cake is the massive botched and overly expensive project of smart meters. Not to mention the invasion of privacy these electronic devices represent. Unlike the old school analog meters, smart meters apparently have a two-way communication between the meter and the central system, so they can gather more specific types of data.
Smart meters have not been popular in BC. In November 2011, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities voted in favour of a moratorium to suspend smart meter installations. 
The provincial government said that installations will proceed, based on global standards (or requirements?)
As of May 2012, 39 municipalities in British Columbia have passed motions opposing the installation of smart meters. But BC Hydro is not legally obliged to abide by these city decisions. 
As it appears darkest before dawn, the other week BC Hydro was ordered to remove 88,000 smart meters because they are faulty or because they did not “meet Measurement Canada standards.”
Nevertheless, the Crown corporation still wants to replace 8,200 old analog meters. And it won’t release the budget for the replacement project, expected to cost $200 per meter.
Doubts over the longevity of smart meters have been raised across the country. In 2014 an annual report by the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario said, “Distribution companies we consulted said the 15-year estimate is overly optimistic.” Emphasis on overly. Compare that to 40-year lifespan of analog meters.
The report also said that, like most new technologies, the smart meters will be obsolete by the time they are re-verified.
Meanwhile, 14,000 customers in BC pay an extra $32.40 a month to keep their analog meters. Liz Walker is one of these people, a former chemical technician at BC Hydro’s Powertech Labs, she is concerned about the health risks of radio frequency electromagnetic fields, which have been classified, even by the World Health Organization, as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”
Smart Meters have also been linked to real physical fires all over the country. In August 2014 the Ontario Fire Marshal said smart meters have been linked to 13 fires and 23 incident reports from 2011 to 2013. 
Last year Ontario’s Electrical Safety Authority announced that some 5,400 smart meters would have to be removed and replaced due to safety concerns. 
In the summer of 2014, the Saskatchewan government ordered its power utility, SaskPower, to remove 105,000 smart meters, nearly all of them, due to concerns over fires. SaskPower admitted that 10 fires were started by faulty smart meters. 
 The minister responsible for the provincial Crown corporation, Bill Boyd, said: ”The concerns about safety are paramount here… The concerns are significant enough that we believe that any time that families are at risk here in Saskatchewan, actions have to be taken.” 
After a report into the smart-meter fires that concluded that customer safety wasn’t a high enough priority, the CEO of SaskPower resigned. 
These issues in Saskatchewan led Medicine Hat, Alberta to halt their installations of smart meters.
Across the country, people are revolting against smart meters but government bureaucracies masquerading as service providers are demanding that they replace the standard, safe, and reliable analog meters.
Meanwhile, the manufacturers of smart meters are a nice little cartel with government contracts. Itron, Elster Group, General Electric, Landis+Gyr, and Schieder Electric.
There are smaller companies, but they're dwarfed by these corporate conglomerates. 
Itron is the manufacturer of BC’s smart meters. Contractual limitations prevent BC Hydro from revealing its budget numbers... apparently. 
But does any of this really get to the core problem with smart meters? Their purpose is not to save energy or the environment, and it’s certainly not to increase power reliability or give you, the consumer, more control over energy use.
Smart meters can use more energy and they are hackable (being computers, after all).
But more so, they are designed to collect in-home private data on everyone.
That is the ultimate goal of the smart meters — a step toward the complete nationalization of the individual and household. Smart meters, and those who access their data, will be able to track the daily lives that go on in private homes. Including eating, sleeping, showering habits, what appliances they use and when, whether they prefer the computer or television, how long they use said items. It is a detailed account of everything you plug in.
Conspiracy theory? Well if you consider Wired Magazine and former CIA Chief David Petraeus to be conspiracy theorists, then so be it. But it’s admitted: “smart” technology will be used to spy on you. 
The state wants to create a smart grid we’re all linked into and incapable of escaping from.
The good news is that people are pushing back. Anti-smart meter activist Liz Walker, also a former BC Hydro employee, is hoping a BC Supreme Court class action lawsuit against BC Hydro gets the green light. It could be a case-setting precedent that will stop smart meters in BC in their tracks. 

Now to denationalize the entire hydroelectricity sector. 
Follow @Caleb983 

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