Letter: Utility bill goes up despite ‘efficient’ machines

Big power bill increase within ‘normal parameters’ for BC Hydro.

To the editor:

At the end of 2015, I reviewed my power consumption at the condo. I was curious to see the savings realized as I replaced the 1995 appliances and light bulbs with 2015 energy efficient equipment. In January 2015, I removed but did not replace an ancient upright freezer. I live alone with my cat.

Much to my surprise, the energy consumption (6,900 kwh) increased more than 500 kwh over any of the previous six years.

I contacted BC Hydro to check the Smart Meter and for any explanation. According to a BC Hydro agent, “energy consumption was within normal parameters.” As far as they were concerned, the status quo was in place.

I wrote to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) for help. They requested BC Hydro to review their records and to report. BC Hydro did and even suggested ‘phantom power’ could account for the increase. Again, no recognition of the appliance upgrade. I asked BC Hydro to replace the smart meter. No response.

BCUC did suggest I hire an electrician to check the wiring, conduct a breaker test and contact BC Hydro to request a Measurement Canada meter test for the current smart meter. All of course, at my expense. BC Hydro would refund the Measurement Canada meter test should their equipment prove defective. That was the final word.

My theory: BC Hydro has imbedded an algorithm in their smart meter software to report higher than actual usage based on historical energy use.

How does an individual test for such a stealth software algorithm? I suggested such an improbable scenario for my increased power consumption in spite of my improvements; nothing but dead air back.

Is there a stealth software algorithm embedded in BC Hydro’s smart meters? Why didn’t I achieve a power saving after the upgrade to all the appliances and light bulbs? Is the BC Hydro Power Smart program and marketing efforts to promote energy efficient upgrades a fraud? Who can answer these questions? Not BC Hydro or the BCUC.

I will hire an electrician to inspect the wiring system from the meter to the suite and conduct a breaker test. If no issues are present, I will ask BC Hydro to conduct a Measurement Canada meter test, but what about a stealth software algorithm? BC Hydro won’t admit to that unless caught red-handed.

The move to digitize corporate systems allows for ‘corporate greed behavior.’ I wonder if I uncovered such a fraud. I have no power or authority to cause an investigation, no competitors to turn to so I am stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

Perhaps my cat turns everything on when I’m not present.

Patrick Olenick, West Kelowna