When it comes to measuring our electricity use for the purposes of billing, is it healthier, more secure, safer and more cost effective to opt for wired smart meters or for the wireless ones? That is the question Fortis BC would prefer you wouldn’t spend much time thinking about, as it is not a choice the company is prepared to give you anyway. The BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) is currently considering a Fortis application to install the wireless version of the technology on every home in its service area. As has already happened with BC Hydro’s roll-out of wireless smart meters, many people are strongly opposed and are organizing to try and stop them.
To get a little background on what all the fuss is about, an interesting documentary to view is Resonance: Beings of Frequency, which is freely available on the Internet. The film lays out in an easily digestible format the scientific and other compelling reasons we should better protect ourselves from the growing amount of radiation being emitted through our increased use of modern electrical and wireless technologies. What is made clear in the film is that we are now immersed in an ocean of radiation that is many millions of times higher than what life on earth evolved with. As yet the long-term impact and potential for harm is far from understood. Industry standards are based only on the thermal effects (i.e., if it heats tissue, as in a microwave oven) and do not consider the long-term non-thermal effects, which are more difficult to establish.
Although this is not an exhaustive list, radiation emitting equipment can include: radar (military, marine, aviation and weather), cellphone towers, radio and TV broadcast antennas, WiFi hotspots, and citywide WiFi and Wi-Max antennas. Inside buildings and homes we might have cellphones, cordless phones, wireless alarm systems, wireless baby monitors, wireless video games, wireless computers, iPads and now Smart Phones that can connect to wireless internet or WiFi.
Ultimately, the plan is for wireless smart meters to monitor the use of electricity, gas and water. As part of this system, smart appliances like fridges, stoves, washers, dryers and toasters are now being designed to communicate wirelessly with smart meters. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to realize how much more radiation we will be adding to our living environment once all this technology is rolled out.
Easier to imagine, perhaps, is the amount of money that stands to be made and the business interests involved. There is plenty of fodder to fuel the many allegations of conflict of interest by industry and regulating bodies over the last 60 years, not least of which by the B.C. government, but that is perhaps the subject for a future column.
Two weeks, beginning on March 04, have been set aside by the BCUC for the oral hearing part of the process that will allow both sides in the controversial debate to cross examine each other. These hearings will take place in Kelowna and are open to the public. Fortis has invited experts from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) as well as the Committee on Man and Radiation (COMAR) to represent their arguments on privacy and health issues. Interveners have put forward several independent scientists who will challenge those arguments.
Considering that BC Hydro was exempted by the B.C. government from having to apply to the BC Utilities Commission for permission to install wireless meters in its service area, it will be very interesting to see whether the Commission gives Fortis the go ahead with its application, especially in the face of so much controversy.
– Alex Atamanenko