Hydro-Quebec rocked by resignations amid smart-meter flap

Hydro-Quebec rocked by resignations amid smart-meter flap

10:27 am, February 3rd, 2015

Michel Morin | QMI AGENCY

MONTREAL — Two Hydro-Quebec executives in charge of the contentious smart-meter program quietly resigned last week along with CEO Thierry Vandal, QMI Agency has learned.

The $1-billion smart-meter file has sparked boycotts and petitions over the safety of the devices and Hydro-Quebec’s pushy installation measures.

Vandal, the president and CEO, quit after 10 years on the job. His resignation takes effect May 1.

Vandal’s second-in-command, Marie-Josee Nadeau, quit on Friday along with Georges Abiad, who was overseeing installation of more than 3.8 million electronic meters.

Nadeau, as secretary of the board, was the only person aside from the president who had access to all Hydro-Quebec files. She had held her post for 22 years.

In an e-mail to QMI, Nadeau said her resignation “is totally independent of Thierry Vandal’s and it would be wrong to make any connection.”

Hydro-Quebec provided no explanation for the departure of Abiad, the smart-meter boss.

“Mr. Abiad left the corporation last week to pursue other challenges,” the utility told QMI in a statement.

An industry insider said the sudden loss of the three top managers was a shock.

“It’s as if Hydro-Quebec has been decapitated,” he said.

The utility is Canada’s largest in terms of revenues and capacity.

Aside from its Quebec monopoly, the utility powers up parts of Ontario, New Brunswick, Labrador and New England.

Hydro-Quebec has faced enormous criticism over its plan to replace analog meters with digital units.

Clients have reported major hikes on their hydro bills and many have told QMI they have had difficulty getting answers from Hydro-Quebec.

Some say they’ve been put on hold for long periods and were even harassed by call-centre agents who insisted they had no choice but to have the meters installed. The smart meters are, in fact, optional.

QMI reported in December that one Hydro worker faces disciplinary measures for breaking into a home north of Montreal to install a meter.

Some clients, and even some entire towns, are refusing to let Hydro-Quebec install the smart meters on their property.

http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/sunnews/politics/archives/2015/02/20150203-102707.html

Guide for Smart Meter Legislative Campaign 2015-WRITE YOUR STATE REPS….

Guide for Smart Meter Legislative Campaign 2015

Maryland Smart Meter Awareness has put together a legislative guide along with model letters for your state representatives.

Guide for Legislative Campaign 2015 (PDF)Model Letter – Senators (Word format)
Here is the text:

Your Name
Your Address
Today’s Date

Senator  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Senate Office Building, Room xxx
11 Bladen St.
Annapolis, MD 21401

Dear Senator xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx:

I am one of your constituents and am urging you to support Senate Bill 9 and the amendments offered by Senator McFadden.   I am very concerned about my utility’s efforts to force smart meters on all its ratepayers.  While the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) did grant us the right not to have a smart meter, it imposed a totally unjustified fee on those who do not want a smart meter.   But not only are we stuck with this unfair fee, we will ultimately pay for the smart meter program when the PSC approves those costs to be added to the rate base.  So we will be paying twice: the first time is to keep our old meters and the second is to pay for smart meters  we do not want and do not have on our homes.

One thing that really worries me about this PSC decision allowing us to keep our non-smart meters is that the PSC could change its mind.  It could rescind that decision and deny us any right to protect ourselves from smart meters as is done in many states already.   As you probably already know, these meters are threats to our health, privacy and safety.   I therefore urge you to support Senate Bill 9 that will protect our rights and prevent bullying by the utilities.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

Model Letter – Delegates (Word format)
Here is the text:

Your Name
Your Address
Today’s Date

Delegate xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

House Office Building, Room xxx
6 Bladen St.
Annapolis, MD 21401

Dear Delegate xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx:

I am one of your constituents and am urging you to support legislation that will allow us to keep our non-smart electric meters and not be forced to pay for an unfair, unjustified fee for that right.   I am very concerned about my utility’s efforts to force smart meters on all its ratepayers. While the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) did grant us the right not to have a smart meter, it imposed a totally unjustified fee on those who do not want a smart meter. But not only are we stuck with this unfair fee, we will ultimately pay for the smart meter program when the PSC approves those costs to be added to the rate base. So we will be paying twice: the first time is to keep our old meters and the second is to pay for smart meters we do not want and do not have on our homes.

One thing that really worries me about this PSC decision allowing us to keep our non-smart meters is that the PSC could change its mind. It could rescind that decision and deny us any right to protect ourselves from smart meters as is done in many states already. As you probably already know, these meters are threats to our health, privacy and safety.   I therefore urge you to support legislation that will preserve our right not to have a smart meter and to only pay for a fairly calculated fee that actually covers the cost of keeping our non-smart meters.   And finally, we should not be forced to pay for the smart meter program.   We are tired of being bullied by the utilities.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

http://marylandsmartmeterawareness.org/general-info/guide-for-smart-meter-legislative-campaign-2015/

AUSTRALIA-Federal Government To Distribute One Million Smart Meters

Federal Government To Distribute One Million Smart Meters
Channels Television.
Updated February 3, 2015

 

smart meters

The Federal Government had said it will soon commence the distribution of one million smart meters to consumers across the country.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Dr Godknows Boladei Igali, made this known at a forum to proffer solutions to effective billing System in Lagos.

Dr Godknows said at the forum that the Federal Government was also seeking other ways at reducing technical and commercial losses in a view to satisfy the electricity needs of its people and boosting power supply.

Prior to this, the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, had said that the private sector owners of the electricity distribution companies inherited a lot of customers who had no meters.

This was in response to the complaints of power consumers across the country.

Prof. Chinedu said, “The private sector inherited a customer base in which 50 per cent do not have meters. Nigeria has the highest per capital electricity theft in the world.

“That is why we are now doing smart meters and we are moving to a place where the meters will be mounted on poles, because something has got to be done fast.

“As a result of the burden on the DISCOs due to meter issues, the President has provided funding to give over one million meters to Nigerians to reduce the gap and then allow the DISCOs ensure that all customers are given meters.”

On when Nigerians would start getting the meters, Nebo said, “The fact is that the funding has been approved by Mr. President and the funds would be released very soon.

“These meters are being procured and I do think that in the next couple of months, you will begin to see them because the mechanism still needs to be developed on how they would be shared to the Distribution Companies.

“They (DISCOs) will distribute and install these meters and these are all being worked out. Some people may not be happy to give you meters, but we think we should continue to insist that every consumer must be given a meter because the only way to stop estimated billing is to provide these meters.”

http://www.channelstv.com/2015/02/03/federal-government-to-distribute-one-million-smart-meters/

Canada-Smart-meter rebels get whacked in the wallet

Smart-meter rebels get whacked in the wallet

By Michael Smyth, The Province February 3, 2015 7:13 AM

Smyth: Smart-meter rebels get whacked in the wallet

Energy Minister Bill Bennett says people who opt out of the smart-meter program create special costs that shouldn’t be subsidized by everyone else.

Photograph by: CHAD HIPOLITO , THE CANADIAN PRESS

When B.C. Hydro first rolled out their fancy new smart meters, lots of customers made it clear they didn’t want one.

Some people called Hydro and told them not to bother sending around a smart-meter installer. Other people hung a big “Go Away” sign on their homes in case the installer showed up anyway.

Some even put a padlock on their old analog meters in a bid to foil the smart-meter man. One guy emailed me a picture of a sturdy-looking cage, complete with Alcatraz-worthy iron bars, that he welded in front of his old meter.

Why do they hate smart meters so much? Some have privacy concerns because the meters are designed to beam electrical-billing data to Hydro via wireless radio frequencies.

Many are concerned about alleged health risks from the radio signals.

I don’t personally share the concerns. People are bathed in wireless radio, telephone and Internet signals every time they walk down a city street. The smart meter on the side of my own house doesn’t bother me.

But I also believe people’s homes are their castles, and if they don’t want a smart meter they should not be forced to take one.

Hydro eventually surrendered on that point and now about 15,000 customers have exercised an opt-out provision in the smart-meter program.

But, in a move that smacks of revenge, Hydro is hammering the anti-smart-meter rebels with exorbitant opt-out fees.

For customers who choose to keep an analog meter, Hydro’s fee is $32.40 a month. For those who choose a smart meter with the radio transmitter switched off, the fee is $20 a month.

Compare that to other jurisdictions and utilities with similar opt-out programs: $5 a month in Quebec, $5 US a month in Arizona and $18 every two months for Fortis B.C.

“Hydro is outrageously overcharging people that the government does not like or respect,” said NDP critic Adrian Dix.

“Participants in the meter choices program are B.C. Hydro customers. They deserve to be treated with respect and not be overcharged.”

The government, of course, insists it is not overcharging customers.

Energy Minister Bill Bennett said people who opt out of the smart-meter program create special costs that shouldn’t be subsidized by everyone else.

“These charges cover the cost of the additional infrastructure needed so that the smart grid can operate around the non-communicating meters and the cost of maintaining the old system,” Bennett said in a letter.

The charges were approved by the B.C. Utilities Commission, Bennett argued, where Hydro submitted evidence to prove its costs.

It included the cost of sending meter readers out to homes of smart-meter hold-outs.

But Dix said Hydro’s costs appear to be inflated. For example, he said, Hydro uses 200 “check meters” to detect possible electricity theft among 5,000 opted-out customers. That compares to just 20 previous check meters for Hydro’s entire 1.9-million-customer base.

Meanwhile, opted-out customers who refuse to pay the fees have their electricity cut off.

The government says the fee schedule may be reviewed again next year. But I expect the smart-meter rebels will continue to get unfairly whacked in the wallet.

msmyth@theprovince.com

twitter.com/MikeSmythNews

http://www.theprovince.com/technology/Smyth+Smart+meter+rebels+whacked+wallet/10782038/story.html

Family blames smart meter on house fire that killed 74-year-old

Family blames smart meter on house fire that killed 74-year-old

Monica Hernandez, WFAA 7:56 a.m. CST February 3, 2015

DALLAS — A house fire in Dallas has left one person dead.

It broke out at about 10:30 p.m. Monday on Spring Avenue, near Fair Park.

A family member spoke with News 8 and told us she and other family members had gone to the store, and when they returned the house was on fire. Her disabled 74-year-old cousin, James Humphrey, didn’t make it out.

Firefighters say Humphrey may not have noticed the fire until it was too late because he didn’t have working smoke alarms. His cousin says it was hard for him to get around, but she blames the fire on a “smart meter” installed three weeks ago, which may not have been compatible with the old wiring in the house.

 Man dies in Dallas house fire

“This is the second house that has caught on fire of mine with that smart meter, from that meter,” Humphrey’s cousin, Alfreda Johnson, said. “Oncor comes out here and they post those meters out there on these old houses; these houses are not equipped to carry those smart meters.”

Firefighters say the meter is close to where the fire started, but they are still investigating the cause.

Justin Ozuna with Oncor told News 8 that the company is aware of the fatality and is trying to gather more information, including when the meter was installed and other account history.

He also noted that smart meters operate in the same way as older, analog meters and don’t use any extra energy.

http://www.wfaa.com/story/news/local/dallas-county/2015/02/03/74-year-old-killed-house-fire-dallas/22786269/