Editorial — Consult more on meters
One of the hot topics at this week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention is BC Hydro’s controversial decision to bring in smart meters.
This has been an issue for many people around the province, and here in Langley, it has been taken up by Township council in recent months.
Despite all the concerns over radiation, privacy, loss of jobs for meter readers and billing based on time of use, the smart meter issue boils down to one simple fact. The government pushed the idea through without proper consultation, and has continued to stick with the proposal despite a change in leadership and a new minister of energy, who has already taken a much closer look at all aspects of Hydro’s operations.
Energy Minister Rich Coleman is perhaps one of the most pragmatic members of the cabinet. He was asked by former premier Gordon Campbell to take on many challenging files, and he relishes hard work.
He has already shown a willingness to make some changes in the way Hydro does things. He recognizes the importance of not only doing the right thing, but being seen by the public to be doing the right thing.
Thus it would be no real problem for him to ask Hydro to delay the smart meter program, at least until there has been full consultation with the public.
Coleman knows, as do all members of the cabinet, that this lack of proper consultation is what doomed the HST, and it is unlikely that he would like to see a repeat of that fiasco.
BC Hydro could arrange a series of public meetings on the topic, and give the public a chance to ask questions and present their views. Hydro can bring out experts on smart meters and also outline exactly why the corporation feels they are so important.
Hydro and the government have not handled this issue well thus far, but there is still time to rectify much of the damage.
A little meaningful consultation could go a long way in dealing with all the concerns about smart meters. If after consultation, Hydro still wishes to proceed, at least the public will have had a say.