Smart meters perfectly safe says BC Hydro, but a Highlands family is angry they don’t have the option to say no
Kimberly Grigg heads to the stove and places last night’s leftovers in a steamer. It’s been 12 years since she heated any food in a microwave.
Grigg has devoted her lifestyle to reducing the amount of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields her family is exposed to. For her, being asked to accept a BC Hydro smart meter attached to her Highlands home crosses the line.
“I think it’s an outrage … it’s an violation of my freedom,” said Grigg, who lives without houshold devices that emit radio frequencies, such as clock radio and hairdryers. “We are already forced to live in an environment that is totally toxic and it’s bad enough without having it attached to your house. We’ve made choices here and I don’t want (BC Hydro) to take that away from us.”
The Grigg family only uses the Internet with the moderm directly plugged into the computer. The family never use their laptop computer while it’s charging either. “The EMFs are 100 times higher when its charging,” Grigg said.
When they want to make a phone call they use the stationary telephone plugged into the wall. Grigg does admit her husband Neville requires a cell phone for work, but uses it sparingly. She is aware that she can’t completely avoid radio frequencies in her home.
“We enjoy watching movies (at home), but my kids aren’t allowed within five feet of the TV,” Grigg said. “We understand we are in a world that it is impossible to avoid EMFs, but we can minimize our exposure by lifestyle choices. We chose to move to the Highlands, this is the last rural outpost in Victoria.”
B.C. residents can’t opt out of having a smart meter, but Ted Olynyk of BC Hydro says the meter doesn’t have to be attached to a house.“What we are doing is working with our customers and we can (install) the meter away from their home,” Olynyk said.
Homeowners can hire a electrician to move the current analog meter to a desired distance from the home, which will be location for a future smart meter. BC Hydro will delay installation for a current meter to be moved if notified.
The option of having a wired smart meter is not possible, said Olynyk, adding it would only work if each meter had a dedicated phone line.
Even if Grigg was able to deny BC Hydro the right to install a smart meter, she said if her neighbours wanted them, those electromagnetic frequencies would still affect her.
Olynyk said his family has no issue with smart meters and will gladly welcome one on his home. He has two children and wireless Internet.
Radio frequencies run from 30 kilohertz to 300 gigahertz, and are emitted by cell phones, wireless Internet routers, cordless phones, broadcast antennas and Bluetooth devices. “(Smart meters send) radio waves much like AM or FM radio signals,” Olynyk said.
Even though Health Canada has deemed radio frequencies produced by smart meters as safe, Grigg isn’t convinced. For the past five years, she has been concerned about “damage that (electromagnetic frequencies) do to the body’s systems.”
Olynyk pointed out smart meters will emit information four to six times a day with a maximum of one minute in total each day.
“Wi-Fi is all around us, if you wait in a Wi-Fi coffee shop for four minutes, that’s equal to one year exposure of a smart meter and that’s if you are standing next to the meter every time (it sends out information).”
Olynyk said a smart meter emits two microwatts per cubic centimetre, where Health Canada standards allow up to 600 micro watts per cubic centimetre.
The Griggs say their lifestyle is built on keeping a healthy environment. They don’t use paper towels, eat fast food or use any environmentally-toxic chemicals in or outside their home. Their clothes are made with natural fibres and Grigg homeschools her children.
Olynyk argues that smart meters will help play a role in helping the environment too. When a smart meter is installed, BC Hydro customers can use an in-home device or the Internet to monitor their real-time energy consumption.
“It’s important for people to see what would happen if (they) turn off this light,” Olynyk said. People will soon be able to ask themselves, “How much energy will I save?”
Just by having a smart meter, Olynyk said people will easily be able to conserve 15 per cent of their previous energy consumption.
“We are some one of the biggest consumers of electricity in the world,” he said. “It puts (control) back in peoples’ hands.”