WEST Vancouver resident Eva Lyman says she's going to remain vigilant to make sure BC Hydro doesn't install a smart meter on her property, despite recent hopes the corporation may be softening their stance on the controversial devices.
Lyman describes herself as part of the population that is "electro hyper sensitive."
Even the small amount of radiofrequency exposure emitted by the wireless meters when sending data is enough to give her headaches and panic attacks, says Lyman.
Since a smart meter was installed in a neighbour's house nearby, "I've had to move out of my room," she said, or risk sleepless nights and irregular heartbeats.
Lyman said she's determined not to have a smart meter installed on her property. "It's not like walking by something," she said. "You cannot turn it off."
Recently, it seemed the Crown corporation might be softening its stance on smart meters. A group opposed to smart meters circulated a letter from the office of Liberal MLA Gordon Hogg, which appeared to reassure one of his constituents they wouldn't be forced to accept a smart meter.
Officially, however, Hydro's position hasn't changed. Greg Alexis, a spokesman for the corporation, said Hydro is taking some extra time to speak with smart meter holdouts. While those conversations continue "we will not install a new meter for these customers unless we have their permission," he said.
Alexis said BC Hydro isn't making any final decisions on what will happen over the next several months. But he added, "The reality is at some point every household needs to have a new meter; the old meters are getting obsolete and they eventually will not be approved to operate in Canada anymore."
Lyman says the corporation has been talking to her but has yet to convince her on the smart meters. "We've been corresponding and I've been refusing it," she says.
Lyman says she thinks the conciliatory tone from BC Hydro is merely to keep a lid on things until after the provincial election.
Mike Burns, another West Vancouver resident who has been refusing to have a smart meter installed, agrees.
"They just want to . . . tell you how great it is, but in no way have they ever mentioned an opt-out provision," he said in an email to the North Shore News.
So far, health authorities have said the new meters pose no more of a health threat than household appliances like microwaves and cellphones that also emit electromagnetic radiation.
But a growing number of smart meter refusniks say they don't believe that.
"From everything that I've researched on wireless smart meters, I don't believe they are safe for long-term microwave radiofrequency exposure, which BC Hydro downplays, nor do I think they have the right to install telecommunications equipment on private property without the owner's consent," said Burns.
So far, BC Hydro has installed about 74,000 smart meters on the North Shore - to about 94 per cent of customers. Most of the 4,500 homes that don't have smart meters yet are because the homeowners are refusing to have them installed, said Alexis.
The cost of installing the smart meters is $930 million.
The crown corporation says the program will pay for itself by providing $1.6 billion in savings through cutting down on wasted electricity and cutting out electrical theft from grow-ops.