Tony Wanless @ BCBusiness on Fight HST’s Bill Vander Zalm, Chris Delaney’s ‘people-power genie’: ‘Government opponents are a pretty heady bunch these days, what with overthrowing HST, ousting former Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell. Flush with victory, anti-government forces are now taking aim at smart meters.

Opposing BC Hydro’s Smart Meters

Tony Wanless

|  October 14, 2011

BC Hydro meters | BCBusiness

Image by: Heather McCall
Based on groundless concerns, anti-government forces are opposing BC Hydro’s installation of smart meters.

Opponents to BC Hydro’s smart meters are attempting to become the newest group to overthrow a government decision. While it may be more noise than reality, one has to ask if we’ve gone too far.

Government opponents are a pretty heady bunch these days, what with the overthrowing of the HST and the ousting of former Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell.

Flush with victory, the anti-government forces are now taking aim at smart meters, those electricity-usage monitoring devices that BC Hydro is installing in the homes and businesses of 1.8 million customers.

Fearing a cash grab by BC Hydro, a government Crown Corporation, possible health hazards from wireless radiation, and privacy concerns, opponents have already enlisted a clutch of municipalities on their side, and are getting plenty of press to further their cause.

Of course, their concerns are groundless. BC Hydro, while a regulated utility, is still a semi-private business, and not an arm of government. The health hazards are based more on fear than reality. (Noise about the health hazards of wireless is probably coming from people who have cell phones continually glued to their ears and their houses wireless’d up the yin yang.) The privacy concerns are groundless, since BC Hydro already knows how much power you use – just not when you use it.

Utilities around the continent and the world are installing smart meters because they’re up against increasing electricity demand from customers – note the word “customers” – at the same time as they’re dealing with environmental concerns that mitigate their ability to generate more electricity.

The meters would encourage people, through pricing, to be more conservative in their energy usage, or at least to extend it throughout the day, instead of all at once in peak times.

But that’s all logic, and therefore doesn’t fit in with this kind of “consumer revolt,” “people power,” or what it really is – raw and self-serving politics.

The anti-meter forces are led by several provincial right-wing pols like Bill Vander Zalm, Chris Delaney, and Conservative leader John Cummins. They have a vested interest in stirring up the anger of the populace – they want the Liberals out, an NDP government elected, and themselves the official opposition, positioned for a run at government after that.

Notably, the NDP has yet to join the anti-smart meter crusade. This might have something to do with the fact that one of their biggest allies, the public service unions, have a strong presence in BC Hydro.

Anyway, all this is by the by.

Rightly or wrongly, the population in this province was led by the HST referendum to believe it should have a direct voice in all things government.

It’s my opinion that they shouldn’t because no government can function if every decision it makes has to be run by a divided population, most of whom haven’t a clue as to what the real issues are.

But so what regarding my opinion?

The people-power genie is out of the bottle and there’s no easy way to stuff it back in.

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