By Josh Hall (Twitter: @Vancan19)
April 18, 2017 – 7:21pm
A Red Deer woman is not backing down in her fight against smart meters.
Lori Curran, a resident of Riverside Meadows, says what’s being emitted from smart meters can have long-term health impacts.
She also says smart meters may pose privacy concerns.
A natural health practitioner by trade, Curran admits some people are more sensitive than others.
“It’s so widespread. With our cellphones and WiFi, we’re being bombarded more than ever with all these electromagnetic frequency signals,” she says. “Myself, I try and limit it, but you can’t get away from it. We’re living in this world and that’s the way it is.”
To limit her exposure, Curran says she doesn’t carry her cellphone near her body, has it turned off when she isn’t using it, and uses a hard line for internet on her laptop.
Curran is also worried hackers could obtain personal information such as how much natural gas or water her household is using, when she’s using it and when she isn’t home. In the end, she says she’s being unfairly penalized simply for making a choice about her health.
Curran’s natural gas bills from ATCO show, and the company confirms to rdnewsNOW, that it is standard practice for customers with analog metres to be charged a twice-yearly fee of $109 (plus GST).
Meanwhile, the City of Red Deer, which is gradually rolling out 30,000 smart meters across the city to record water use, is also charging users who don’t upgrade.
Water Superintendent Alex Monkman says the City initiated its water meter replacement program in 2014, and has so far installed about 10,000 meters. He says the City is strategically going neighbourhood by neighbourhood and should be finished by 2020, noting Riverside Meadows won’t be done for about another year.
“We’ve approached Alberta Health Services, and they have documentation which states they don’t have any concerns with them. Also Health Canada has similar documentation regarding concerns with these meters,” he says.
An education package sent to residents with concerns states, “Radio frequency energy levels from Itron meters are 10 to 16 times lower than the exposure limits allowed by regulatory agencies, including the FCC and Industry Canada.”
Monkman adds, “We haven’t had any instances of [hacking]. Some customers have brought that concern up, but our stance is that there’s not any personal information stored on the meter. The meter has the meter information, the meter number, the electronic reading transmitter and the read. That is all.”
In order to get any personal information, Monkman says someone would need to hack into the City’s system.
He also confirms there are fees associated with sticking to your old analog meter. Once a water smart meter is installed, you’re given thirty days’ notice before taking an $80 non-compliance fee, then $25 monthly for processing, and $65 each time the City deems it necessary to read your meter manually. Monkman says smart meters will save the City between $300,000 and $600,000 annually.
For electricity, the province was supposed to bring in legislation for smart meters in 2008, but that never happened. City of Red Deer Electric, Light and Power Manager Jim Jorgensen says with solar panels and renewable energy gaining prevalence, the need for smart meters could return sooner than later. At some point, Jorgensen adds, the manufacturing of analog meters could end.
In the end, Curran wants choice, free of penalties. She says she’ll be writing city council on the matter.
“I could easily take a picture and send in to them [ATCO or the City]. It feels like it’s a punishment to force me into getting a smart meter. Financially, who knows, I might have to someday if I can’t afford to pay the extra money. It’s being forced down our throat.”