Smart Meters: A New Environmental Battleground

Written by Harold McNeill on February 2nd, 2013. Posted in Editorials

Note: Times Colonist, February 3, 2013.  Smart Meter foes fume at Coleman   Updated comments in the footer.

Note:  A copy of the following letter, purported to have been circulated by the President and CEO of BC Hydro, was sent to me by an anonymous source. I accepted and reproduced it at face value. Is it possible someone was spoofing me?

Victoria, BC

January 25, 2013

Re: Refusal to Allow Smart Installation

Dear Mary Beth and James,

We at BC Hydro appreciate your ongoing concern about the Smart Meter program and we realize considerable conflicting information is floating around about whether BC Hydro and the Government will make the final installations mandatory. You must realize that with over 95% of the meters now installed, we are in so deep there is no turning back.

We understand that you and the others have given as a your primary reason for refusing to allow installation, some perceived health dangers posed by the technology. As this technology comes at a cost of some $1,000,000,000 of taxpayers dollars, you can rest assured we did a fair amount of research with your money.

To help resolve your situation, we are providing you and the other 84,999 homeowners who think as you do, an opportunity to justify your refusal.

In order to determine your eligibility for this exemption, please answer the following questions truthfully and to the best of your knowlege:

HAVE YOU EVER used a cell phone, wireless phone, wireless internet connection, wireless router, baby monitor, garage door opener, video game, walkie-talkie, car radio, GPS, satellite TV receiver, wireless home security system, microwave oven or other wireless or microwave device in your home? Have you ever sat in front of a monitor using cathode ray technology?

HAVE YOU EVER ever travelled by land, sea or air to a destination where you were required to submit to a search using an electronic body scanning system?

HAVE YOU EVER had an x-ray of any kind (including dental work), or were you ever admintted to a modern hospital where wireless electronic devices are wide use?

HAVE YOU EVER gone out in the summer sun without wearing a long sleeved shirt, full length pants or skirt, and wearing a wide brimmed hat? If you went swimming, did you wear a full body bathing suit and head protection?

HAVE YOU EVER purchased any food that was subjected to radiation, was genetically modified or contained a preservative, or have you eaten any food from a source that may have been contaminated by contact with water, air or soil that may have been irradiated or subjected to chemical treatment?

HAVE YOU EVER riden in a car or motorcycle, rode a bicyle, traveled in an airplane or ship or walked along a public street in a busy downtown area?

HAVE YOU EVER drank an alcoholic beverage, smoked a cigarette or used drugs of some form (legal or illegal)?

If we are satisfied that you and your family have managed to avoid the majority of these perceived dangers to your health, BC Hydro will consider exampting you from the Smart Meter program.

This exemption will be given on the compassionate ground that you and your family are living such fear-filled, joyless lives it would be totally unfair of Hydro to impose the additional stress created by having a Smart Meter attached to the side of your home.

However, before giving our final assurance, we await further direction from the Minister of Energy and Mines, Rich Coleman, who seems, at this moment at least, a little conflicted about which direction he should jump.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.


Charles Reid
President and CEO
BC Hydro

c/c   Honourable Kristy Clarke, Premier of BC
Honourable Rich Coleman, Minister of Energy and Mines


While most concerns regarding Smart Meters seem to focus on the health aspects, the real story, in my opinion, is about the cost.  The one billion dollar up front costs in BC will be paid entirely by tax payers, as will all furture costs. Will it lead to efficencies? Some studies suggest future cost saving by home owners will be minimal.  When dealing with an essential consumer product such as hydro, it makes little difference as it is always the same pocket, the consumer.

The largest rollout of Smart Meters was in Europe were a total of 39,000,000 installations were complete by the end of 2008. Opponents in Europe focussed more on the cost and only time will tell if smart meters provide significant efficiencies.

In British Columbia, contrary to Europe, complaints by the majority of the 85,000 holdouts focus on ‘health concerns’. This might be described as something of a ‘tempest in a teapot’ given the majority of those same households will likely have more electronic and microwave gadgets installed in their home, car and cottage than at any other geographical location on the globe.

In that sense, resistence to Smart Meters is no different than the resistence to cars, airplanes, gas street light, electricity, microwave ovens, radio, tv sets and a million other innovations over the history of mankind.  It seems people do not take kindly to change.

As a very conservative friend is fond of saying:  “Harold, if I was running things, we would still be living in caves.”

Oh well, an issue that seem’s silly to one person is likely close to the heart of another.

February 3, 2012

Times Colonist Friday, July 12, 2013. 60,00 people given and exemption link here:  B.C. Allows smart meter alternatives

Times Colonist, February 3, 2013.  Smart Meter foes fume at Coleman 


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Comments (1)

  • Harold McNeill
    May 26, 2013 at 1:46 pm |

    Checking out the comment section on the new WordPress Blog.

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  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold