FortisBC has officially joined BC Hydro in the controversial smart meter club.
Fortis announced Thursday it is moving ahead with a project to replace 130,000 electricity meters in B.C.'s Southern Interior with smart meters.
The BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) approved Fortis's application to upgrade to smart meters on July 23. In contrast, BC Hydro was provincially mandated to upgrade to smart meters.
Smart meters connect wirelessly to the utility provider and to any smart appliances in your home. According to FortisBC, the meters are supposed to be cheaper, more accurate and less likely to be tampered with or stolen.
Opponents claim the meters will negatively impact human health due to radiation from their transmitters.
If BC Hydro's experience is any indication, FortisBC may have a public relations struggle ahead of it.
A Saltspring Island resident filed a class-action lawsuit on
27 against Hydro's smart-meter program.
Hydro was ordered by the provincial government to offer options to opt-out completely or opt-in with the radio transmitter turned off.
The first will require an estimated cost of $100 for installation,
$20 per month for manual readings, and the second will require unspecified monthly fees, plus a fee for "duplicate systems."
Fortis has been ordered by BCUC to provide the same options, but the company says it will not know costs until Nov. 1. The installation process is set to begin in 2014 and should be completed in 2015.
Jerry Flynn of Kelowna, a retired Canadian Naval officer in the Communications Electronics Engineering Branch, has been one of the most outspoken critics of the Fortis smart meter program. He says the regulations that cleared smart meters are not enough to protect humans from harm.
"Canada's current code is the equivalent of setting the highway speed limit to 500 m.p.h.," Flynn has said. "No one would ever break it."