FortisBC smart meter opt-out fees are ‘highway robbery’ and ‘bullying’

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To the Editor:

I made an inquiry with FortisBC in regard to the new digital, a.k.a. smart, meters that are being installed across B.C. in the near future. There is an opt-out program for those of us who have researched and found evidence that our health can be compromised by these devices.

The information I received from a Fortis employee states that a one-time fee of $110 will be charged to all customers who wish to opt out, and Fortis will charge $22 for each manual reading.

I feel these prices are extremely high, so I did some calculating. If 2,000 metered residents of Creston opt out, Fortis will collect an upfront fee of $220,000. Wow! If each of those 2,000 meters is read every second month (as is now done), there will be six readings each year; therefore, Fortis would collect reading fees of $264,000 per year. This is highway robbery, and is bullying to those of us who want to keep our analog meters in accepting smart meters.

Allowing five minutes to read each meter would take approximately four weeks of work for one Fortis meter reader every second month (five minutes times 2,000 homes equals 167 hours). The non-read months in Creston could be spent reading meters in a town similar to Creston, generating double the profit previously estimated, which would be $528,000 in readings and $440,000 in upfront fees.

Reading analog meters would be a full-time job for one Fortis employee. If that employee earns $60,000 annually and the vehicle lease and operation cost $40,000 annually, there is a cost to Fortis of $100,000, while income derived is $528,000, which leaves a profit of $428,000. Multiply this by 10 years. I thought Fortis was controlled by the government!

If Fortis expenses are $100,000, that divided by 4,000 bi-monthly meter readings (24,000 annually) equals approximately $4 per read. Allowing Fortis to earn a profit, double the cost to $8 and leave our analog meters alone.

I have not researched how many residents wish to keep their analog meters, but I would venture a guess it is all who have done the research on negative health effects. There is also a privacy issue; however, that will be left for a future letter.

Sandy Buckmaster