Wednesday, March 7, 2012

BC Utilities Commission rules against the anti-smart meter complaints.

The full text of the decision is here.  The details of the complaint are here - warning, the complaint letter is long, 20 pages, and is written in very dense legalese.   I suspect the complaint letter was written in the way that it was because there is an absence of any substance to the complaint.  Just reading the Clean Energy Act makes it clear this was at best a frivolous act.

The core of the complaint is that the smart meters are an "unauthorized extension" by BC Hydro, first in the use of wireless technology and secondly issues of privacy.

Basically the first part of the complaint is that the Clean Energy Act did not authorize BC Hydro to use wireless smart meters.   The BCUC has said BC Hydro is completely within their rights of the Clean Energy Act to use wireless smart meters.
Commission Finding
In the absence of a specific stated requirement that the meters used to fulfill section 17 of the CEA be wireless or wired, the Commission concludes the legislature entrusted BC Hydro, as the technical expert, to determine the equipment needed to meet the requirements under the CEA and the Regulation.
The Commission finds there is insufficient evidence to substantiate the Complainants’ argument that the legislature intended BC Hydro to use a specific type of equipment, wired or wireless, to fulfill its obligations under section 17 of the CEA and to meet the prescribed requirements under section 2 of the Regulation
The second part of the complaint is about the "domestic interface capability" of the smart meter - this is part of the smart meter that will allow you in future to monitor your power use.   It is only switched on if you want to be able to do that.   The complaint states that BC Hydro was not given the right in the Clean Energy Act to have this capability though how they square that with (g) in section 37 of the act, I have no idea.   It seems the BCUC did not either.
Commission Finding
The Commission finds the domestic interface capability or “Chip” meets the requirement under subsection 2(g) of the Regulation for BC Hydro to install a smart metering system with the ability to transfer information to and receive information from an in-home feedback device.
I find the sort of opposition that went into this complaint very depressing.   We are working towards trying to make the world a better place and there are seem to always be people opposing every positive change.   More efficient energy use means we use less energy and this will mean we need fewer power plants.   The single biggest problem world wide with CO2 emissions is electrical power produced from coal fired power plants.   Close to half the power in North America still comes from coal fired power.

Even if these people against smart meters do not care about the environment, you would think they would at least be happy with saving money through with the change to smart meters and the smart grid.   You can look at this research into cost benefit analysis of smart meters in 33 different jurisdictions.  In 30 jurisdictions smart meters had a positive cost benefit and in three it was even.   In none of them did it leave the public and utility worse off than before.

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