Mungall supports call for independent review of Smart Meter Program

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The NDP Opposition introduced a motion in the Legislature calling for an independent review of BC Hydro’s Smart Meter program. MLA Michelle Mungall stood up in support of the motion citing that the Liberals removed this $1 billion dollar decision from proper oversight by the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC).

“What this motion does is ensure that that oversight, that independent body that works in the public interest, is going to protect the public interest,” explained Mungall. “Residents at the North end of Kootenay Lake are concerned and they want to see a fair process that upholds the public’s interest.”

Through the 2010 BC Clean Energy Act, the Liberal Government legislated that the smart meter program bypass BCUC’s review process, opening to the floodgates to massive spending without public accountability. BC Hydro rates have already increased by 36% in the past four years, and some BC residents are reporting that their smart meters are causing their bills to jump 300%. With 1000 meters being uninstalled because of such problems, now is the opportunity to put the program on hold and have BCUC review it.

“Lardeau Valley residents want to see some due diligence,” said Mungall. “They want to see this government take their concerns seriously, and they want to see that the B.C. Utilities Commission is able to do its job.”

MOTION 7 — REVIEW OF
SMART-METERING PROGRAM

M. Mungall: I find this motion to be very timely, especially for the residents at the north end of Kootenay Lake and around Duncan Lake in my constituency. They are with B.C. Hydro. Many of my constituents are with Nelson Hydro, with Fortis, but at the north end of my constituency I have many constituents who are on B.C. Hydro. They recently had a meeting about smart meters and their concerns. Now, they haven’t received their smart meters yet, but they follow the news, they see what’s going on, and they’re quite concerned with how this entire process for smart meters has been rolled out here.
Before I go to the extent of their frustration on the smart meters, I think it’s important to note that for the residents at the north end of Kootenay Lake this isn’t the first time they’ve come across frustration with the actions of B.C. Hydro as a result of this Liberal government. Of course, the first one, most recently, was with the Glacier-Howser private power project that was slated for that area of my constituency.
This project was going against the expressed desire of people in that region. They did not want to see those creeks turned into — well, be dammed and turned into some type of project that would, of course, not benefit them and the people in that region, but would benefit the shareholders of multinational corporations like AXOR corporation.
That project was done as a direct result of directives by this Liberal government, and here we have another situation exactly like that one. The Liberal government directs B.C. Hydro to take on this $1 billion project without due oversight from the B.C. Utilities Commission.
What this motion does is ensure that that oversight, that independent body that works in the public interest, is going to protect the public interest.
People up in Argenta and the Lardeau Valley and Meadow Creek, around Duncan Lake and the north end of Kootenay Lake, are quite concerned — quite concerned about smart meters showing up on their property in replacement of their older meters. They don’t want to see that happening.
They want to see some due diligence. They want to see this government take their concerns seriously, and they want to see that the B.C. Utilities Commission is able to do its job. As the hon. member for Juan de Fuca pointed out earlier, when the Liberals chose to remove this decision and another $12 billion of capital projects from the oversight of BCUC through their Clean Energy Act, what they did was say that these decisions don’t need an independent body to review them to ensure that they’re being done in the best interest of the public. Everything else can be reviewed but apparently not this one.
Let’s review why the B.C. Utilities Commission should be looking into this. Let’s look at their mission statement. “The commission’s mission is to ensure that ratepayers receive safe, reliable and non discriminatory energy services at fair rates from the utilities it regulates and that shareholders of those utilities are afforded a reasonable opportunity to earn a fair return on their invested capital.” Fairness, Madam Speaker, non-discrimination, safe, reliable.
 
Well, what we’re finding out, with the removal of a thousand meters, of these smart meters, the uninstallation of them, is that things might not be fair.
We’ve already seen rate increases of 36 percent in the last four years, and some people are reporting that since their smart meter that their bills have gone up 300 percent. Madam Speaker, that’s not fair. That’s not reliable. For that individual who has to pay that bill, is that going to be safe for them? What is it going to do to their income, their ability to put food on the table?
These are all questions that need to be asked, and they need to be asked in a proper review process to ensure that the public’s interest is upheld. That’s all the residents at the north end of Kootenay Lake want, and that’s fair. That’s the right thing to do, and that’s exactly why we should do it, and that’s exactly why this House should support this motion.