Ladysmith council to address smart meter concerns

Health impacts in spotlight

  • Aug. 2, 2011 12:00 p.m.

Concerns about the use of smart meters in B.C. has prompted Ladysmith council to seek more information on the devices.

 

Mary Lowther spoke to council on behalf of the Citizens for Safe Technology during the July 18 government services committee.

 

Lowther outlined the groups concerns about the wireless devices including health, cost and security.

 

During her presentation, Lowther claimed the World Health Organization has classified the wireless devices as a carcinogen — the same as lead or DDT.

 

Citing concerns listed in Cindy Sage’s Sage Report blog, Lowther said the radio frequency radiation spikes from the meters come several times a minute and can lead to health problems. According to sagereports.com, these spikes can measure 4,000 microwatts/centimetre. Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 limits levels to 600 microwatts/cm.

 

Lowther said the group is concerned that the meters will send their signals to adjacent homes for collection, meaning there will be varying strength of the signal depending on where you live.

Lowther also presented the groups concerns about hacking, noting there are websites where people can learn how to alter theirs, and others’, smart meters.

 

Coun. Lori Evans said she found Lowther’s presentation intriguing, but wants to hear more information.

 

In the end, council asked staff for more information on the meters.

 

Fiona Taylor, the deputy chief project officer for BC Hydro’s Smart Metering program, said they are absolutely convinced their meters are safe, when they consider the meters chosen, design work and their participation with third parties. Taylor said the meters are outside the home and are fitted with a metal backing.

 

“They are not directing anything into a home,” said Taylor, adding the meters are one one-hundredth the power of a cellphone signal with a one watt radio.

 

They collect information about overall electricity use, voltage and power quality factors, not from individual appliances.

 

The meter, said Taylor, records every hour. Then, four to six times a day — Taylor said BC Hydro is trying to reduce that number — the meter wakes up and transfers the data to a gathering device situated on local power poles and back to BC Hydro. If the reporting path is blocked, the signal will detour to a neighbouring meter, she said.

 

And in terms of the signal leaving the meters, “It’s an analog signal that comes out of the meter and it’s the same strength signal, there is no peaking,” said Taylor, adding the strength diminishes over distance.

 

The meters are only on for a total of one minute a day said Taylor, and are well under the safety limits.

 

Taylor said they understand some people are concerned about the meters and Health Canada’s standards, so BC Hydro compared the radio frequency against the toughest regulations around the world — those located in Switzerland.

 

In Switzerland, they allow 4.5 microwatts/cm2 in sensitive areas such as schools.

 

BC Hydro’s meters, she said, measure two microwatts/cm2.

 

Taylor said over the 20-year lifetime of the meter, the exposure is equal to 30 minutes on a cellphone. In terms of hacking, Taylor said their signals are encrypted and that  BC Hydro works with security companies that try to find weak points to break into the system. The Privacy Commissioner is also looking into the meters.

Just Posted

Plantitude giving Ladysmith vegans equal footing

New downtown restaurant believed to be downtown’s first featuring all vegan options

Home care complaints up 45% on Vancouver Island

Number of home care hours delivered down 6%, complaints up 45 %

Volunteers take down after another successful Ladysmith Festival of Lights

Good crowd comes out for a sunny Sunday volunteer session of taking down decorations

Blood moon over Ladysmith

Gerry Beltgens shook off cold fingers this weekend to capture this image… Continue reading

Reflections of Ladysmith: The Art of Michael Dean

Work, place and people are inseparable for Vancouver Island painter

VIDEO: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Former Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay voted into Baseball Hall of Fame

M’s legend Edgar Martinez, Rivera, Mussina also make the grade

Why would the B.C. legislature need a firewood splitter?

First sign of police involvement in investigation of top managers

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Judge annuls hairdresser’s forced marriage to boss’ relative

Woman was told she’d be fired if she didn’t marry boss’s Indian relative so he could immigrate here

Liberals look to make home-buying more affordable for millennials: Morneau

Housing is expected to be a prominent campaign issue ahead of October’s federal election

Cannabis-carrying border crossers could be hit with fines under coming system

Penalties are slated to be in place some time next year

Man accused of threatening to kill ‘as many girls as I see’

Christopher W. Cleary wrote he was angry because he’d never had a girlfriend and wanted to ‘make it right’ with a mass shooting

Most Read