Refusal to accept smart meter leads to Peachland power cut

BC Hydro has turned off power to a Peachland residence after the homeowners replaced a smart meter with an uncertified analog meter.

BC Hydro has turned off power to a Peachland residence after the homeowners replaced a smart meter with an uncertified analog meter.

Deborah Stutters told Capital News a BC Hydro truck with three to five employees showed up at her Princeton Avenue home Wednesday around 1 p.m. to cut the power to her house.

Last May a representative of BC Hydro came to Stutters’ house and said her analog meter was malfunctioning and they’d need to replace it.

Stutters indicated she didn’t want a smart meter and said she was assured the meter would be replaced with another analog meter.

“Within hours somebody snuck on this property and switched out our analog for a smart meter,” said Stutters.

Stutters has electromagnetic field sensitivity and had declined getting the smart meter for health reasons.

She said she and her husband were angry for being lied to. They purchased an analog meter from the United States and replaced the smart meter with it before mailing the smart meter back to BC Hydro.

Cindy Verschoor, communications lead for BC Hydro’s Smart Metering Program, said the installation of an uncertified meter ultimately led to Wednesday’s “extremely unusual” power cut.

“This was a very dangerous situation,” said Verschoor.

“BC Hydro could be liable for anything that went wrong if we knowingly supplied power to a meter that was purchased on the Internet. It wasn’t installed by BC Hydro, it’s not approved for use in Canada, we simply can’t supply power to them through that meter.”

According to Stutters, the analog meter wasn’t purchased online; rather, a friend told her about a company in the United States that provides calibrated analog meters and she purchased hers by phone.

Stutters said she was informed her electricity would be disconnected because the analog meter wasn’t certified to Canadian standards and wasn’t installed by BC Hydro employees. She said she found a Canadian certified analog meter, which she offered to purchase herself if BC Hydro would install it.

When asked why BC Hydro didn’t go along with that suggestion, Verschoor said all meters have to meet “rigorous” safety requirements.

“We simply can’t accommodate a meter that doesn’t meet all of our requirements, as well as all the federal and provincial requirements.”

Verschoor said BC Hydro doesn’t stock analog meters anymore. She noted the five per cent of BC Hydro customers who still have analog meters aren’t being forced to switchover “for the time being.”

Stutters said she is simply trying to find a solution that doesn’t compromise her health.

“We don’t want to steal electricity, what we do want is some consideration for my health condition.”

As for the immediate future, Stutters isn’t sure what to do next.

Neighbours and friends have offered to let her store some food in their freezers before it goes bad.

The family also runs an office out of their house with six employees.

“Our livelihood depends on electricity in this house,” said Stutters.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com