Landlords divided over Hydro smart meters

A landlord in B.C. is facing a hefty lawsuit from B.C. Hydro for denying its attempt to install smart meters despite tenants allegedly requesting them for their units in two Vancouver buildings.

B.C. Hydro says there are 114 accounts at the two properties and 67 of them registered to have smart meters installed in two buildings owned by a company called Puppy Holdings, according to court documents.

In addition, 29 accounts are vacant or new, B.C. Hydro said, and those must have smart meters installed. B.C. Hydro filed legal action against the owner of the two properties.

B.C. Hydro tried twice to install the meters at the properties, but were denied access by the property manager, Miro Jackanin, who shooed officials in their first attempt to install the smart meters.

The public utility company also alleges that during the second attempt, a vehicle was parked in front of the meter room, preventing access by staff, and Jackanin allegedly refused to budge even when police were called.

The case highlights a hot-button issue for landlords when it comes to smart meters and how it affects energy costs, as well as the health risks smart meters impose.

Some landlords have also publicly been opposed to the smart meters because many believe they don’t save money or power, as advertised, among other issues. In July 2013, following significant opposition by customers, the provincial government directed B.C. Hydro to provide an opt-out program (with associated charges), available only to those customers who did not already have a smart meter.

The B.C. Utilities Commission allowed for some to keep their analog meters on the condition that they pay a monthly operating fee of $32.40. That follows an order from former B.C. premier, Bill Bennett.

David Hutniak, CEO of Landlord BC, told CREW, “It’s a unique case and something else must be going on there, but in general embracing technology is a good thing that we encourage and have never really had an issue with.”

That may be true, but not everyone feels it’s a non-issue. Most recently, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen called for a complete stop to the installation of smart meters because of a science report that said the technology poses a health risk due to electric signals.

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