By Brian Lee
One thing I’ve found after sitting in this chair for the past few years is that once some folks take a position an issue, they rarely change their minds. And, sometimes, when faced with credible evidence contrary to their position, they start to find conspiracies — often with tragic consequences to their credibility.
A perfect example is the smart meter debate. Like most, I receive e-mails "educating" me about the horrible potential health affects they pose. Various YouTube clips seem to show high transmission levels.
One Area A resident recently stood in front of the SCRD board claiming health problems for both her and her cats after her meter was installed. She says she experienced "dizziness, strange sensations in head and sometimes teeth and ears, insomnia, loss of appetite and weight loss, nervousness, shaking hands, feeling hot then cold then hot or some parts of body hot while others feel cold, irritability, volatility, being overly emotional, difficulty in concentration and with short-term memory."
It all sounds pretty scary.
But in an interview, BC Hydro spokesperson Cindy Verschoor said, "If you stood right next to one for 20 years, it would be the same amount of radio frequency that you’d get from a 30-minute cellphone call,"
Nobody trusts spokespeople so the CBC hired engineer Rob Stirling to take some tests. He found no difference in transmission levels between a bank of active smart meters and a busy street in downtown Vancouver. So who can you believe? It seems most credible sources (including BC’s provincial health officer Perry Kendall) agree the health risks posed by these devices are a non-issue.
I’ve had a smart meter for a couple of months now and the humans — and kitty — in my house seem to be doing just fine. The promise of appetite loss didn’t materialize and I suspect the device might even be causing me to gain weight.
Many also claim that BC Hydro will use these devices to pull more money from our pockets. That’s a non-issue too. BC Hydro doesn’t need a smart meter on your home to up your bill — they just announced a seven-per-cent rate hike starting in April. With or without time of day billing, the bean counters will ensure they continue to get an equitable return for keeping our lights on.
And though I can respect arguments about privacy concerns, I’m not sure there’s a loss there either. Ultimately, it will be up to the courts to decide how this information can be used but if you’re one of the many locals who cultivate plants in your basement, well, I guess I know which side you’ll land on here.
All I know is that it scares the crap out of me when, every couple of months, I hear someone walk up my front steps and then walk back down again — without knocking. Who was that and could they hear me belting out the theme to My Little Pony? And what will they do with that information?
In a wireless world, bent on efficiency, it now seems absurd to send people to homes to record numbers. The system promises other benefits too. Instead of crews driving around looking for the downed tree on the lines, the break will be relayed instantly.
I’m looking forward to logging on to the web to review my detailed usage information in the hopes of figuring out why my power bills were so incredibly high this winter. Ultimately, it’s hoped we’ll all be able to reduce our power usage by fine-tuning our consumption.
I applaud the martyrs who risk going off the grid in protest but it seems clear now that most who accepted the installation will either appreciate the benefits of the technology . . . or forget it’s there at all.