VICTORIA – B.C. Hydro’s fees to customers in their Meter Choices program are too high and should be reduced, says New Democrat spokesperson for Hydro, Adrian Dix.
“The fees being charged to participants in the Meter Choices program are out of step with what other utilities charge and don’t represent a reasonable cost recovery for reading the analog meters or the smart meters with the radio-off engaged,” said Dix.
“It’s clear that Hydro has set up this fee structure to punish customers who don’t agree with them. That’s not fair and it isn’t something a public utility should be engaged in.”
Dix has written a letter to energy minister Bill Bennett to request the fee structure be revised to be more in line with what utilities like Hydro Quebec and Fortis BC charge.
“B.C. Hydro customers pay $240 per year for radio-off Smart Meter customers and $388.80 for legacy meter customers. By comparison, Fortis charges $108 per year for radio-off customers. That’s a discrepancy that cannot be explained away. I hope the minister will agree with that and encourage B.C. Hydro to restructure these fees.”
Dix offered two suggestions for lowering these fees: scaling back what seems to be an excessive security system for the analog meters and reducing the amount of time Hydro staff are called to physically read the meters – something Fortis already does for customers in the Okanagan and West Kootenay.
In his letter, Dix also asked the minister to clarify Hydro’s policy on cancelling service in winter months. In November, a Hydro spokesperson told media on Vancouver Island that their policy was to not cancel service between November and March, yet Hydro customers have had their service disconnected as recently as last week.
“This kind of conflicting information does not help already inflamed tensions,” said Dix. “If the utility has a policy, it should follow the policy; if that policy doesn’t exist, Hydro should not be claiming it does.”
A copy of Dix’s letter can be found here: Smart Meter Letter to Hon Bill Bennett – 12.18.14