To the editor:
Re: Big Power Bills Explained: Digital Smart Meter more Efficient Than Old Meter (Capital News, Feb. 5, 2016)
Mr. Bozek’s explanation is ludicrous. Anyone intelligent would have factored in some increase due to the difference in the applied technology. However, increases equivalent to usages anticipated with a ‘grow op’ are not, and that exactly defines the difference after Fortis installed their Smart meters in our former community. The further ignorant remark that customers should happily pay these large bills after years of being undercharged implies his obvious relationship with the power companies.
When seeking out explanations from the power companies for the erroneous bills, the excuses of “you’re running a space heater, some appliance in your home is malfunctioning, there is something wrong with your electrical system and you need an electrical inspection” are plenteously forthcoming. But ask how making numerous energy efficient upgrades (which in their propaganda material promises savings,) and disconnecting a large hot tub can result in an increase in reported usage, all you get is the “pay to have your meter tested by Measurement Canada” response. We have heard from people here in the community whose houses had burned down and those absent from their home receiving large hydro bills. These meters are so smart it appears they can circumvent anything.
In addition, let’s not forget that consumers were previously billed every two months because this reportedly saved on sending someone out to read the meter monthly. However, this now allows the power company to charge Level 2 rates pretty much for the whole second month since billing is based over a 60 day period and chances of not reaching that level are impossible in such a time frame (can you hear the cash register filling up?). Our recent request for monthly billing from BC Hydro came back declined, despite the fact the ‘smart’ meter automatically sends the reading in and BC Hydro does not have to send out paper bills anymore (calculate the savings they reap in not paying for billing costs). The reason of course would be the loss in the new Level 2 rates.
The cause of all of this is our provincial government granting a monopoly to the power company resulting in their ability to charge customers whatever they like knowing they have no alternative but to pay up. We have Mr. Campbell to thank for this, who now enjoys a fine life as Canadian High Commissioner to the UK, a position he acquired after making back room deals with Mr. Harper in agreement to accepting the HST proposal. In his place we have Ms. Clark who assumed the position of our MLA here in Westside Kelowna (after being unable to secure her own riding), and who only shows up for the photo ops. She of course has no interest in responding to concerns from her constituents who can not afford these ridiculous hydro bills.
Monopolies and consumer gouging appear to be the norm in Canada now. The three major gas companies are in cahoots so we generally have no alternative but to pay expensive gas prices. When Arco arrived from the U.S. to Vancouver offering cheaper gas they simply bought them out. Now we are experiencing the same scenario with the three cell phone companies who have simultaneously increased monthly cell phone plans by $5/month, despite being told we have the highest cell phone rates of any other country. Noteworthy is their not applying rate increases to the three provinces—Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec—in which a fourth cell phone company offers ‘competition.’
The cornerstone of this country has always been that essential services were protected and thus kept affordable for all. In this age of corporate greed this is no longer the case. Public power companies are sold off, money we pay into ICBC for affordable insurance and EI for coverage when needed is redirected and we the public are expected to anti up more money to cover the reported usage increases. What is truly at loss now is our democratic rights unless we fight to retain them.
D. Samson, West Kelowna