Smart meter radio off
In the BC Utilities Commission’s July 23 decision to approve FortisBC’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project, the BCUC directed FortisBC to submit an application for an option that would allow concerned customers to receive an advanced meter with the radio turned off.
The application is now posted at http://www.bcuc.com/ApplicationView.aspx?ApplicationId=411 and advertisements notifying customers of the regulatory process will be published next week. Before this program can take effect, FortisBC will require the approval of the BCUC.
FortisBC believes advanced meters provide customers with numerous benefits; however, if a customer is interested in an advanced meter with the radio turned off, we are proposing in our application a $110 initial set-up fee and $22 per manual read fee (or $11 per month for most customers).
The $110 fee is intended to recover additional administrative and infrastructure costs associated with installation of a radio-off AMI meter.
The per-read fee of $22 recovers the cost of manually downloading the consumption and operational data from a radio-off meter.
Neal Pobran, manager, corporate communications, FortisBC
FortisBC’s guessing game
Do you like two-tier billing for your electricity? Does it encourage you to use less or is it just a cash grab?
The BC Utilities Commission wants to know and has ordered FortisBC to issue a review of the controversial rate structure for the period of July 1, 2012 to July 31, 2013.
The problem though is that since the company locked out its workers, any review on whether the rate is justified will be partially based on numbers that were made up.
On August 22, after receiving 149 complaints on FortisBC’s two-tier pricing, BC’s utility regulator ordered the electric company to provide data and information on whether the residential conservation rate actually conserves electricity or is merely being used to generate more money.
However, the credibility of this review is in question because FortisBC is estimating all of their customers’ electricity consumption, and has been for months. The evaluation of the two-tier rate will include electricity usage that was not recorded at customers’ meters, but instead was estimated in some office.
Since June 26 FortisBC has locked out its electrical workers. Though the employees contributed to the company’s record success, net earnings are up 85 per cent since 2006, FortisBC refused to negotiate a three per cent wage increase. The CEO, however, has seen his earnings increase 21 per cent since 2010.
For customers who have concerns about their bills, they should continue to contact the BC Utilities Commission and ask for a proper review of the two-tier rate, one that includes the reporting of their actual energy consumption by FortisBC meter readers.
With FortisBC rates having risen 45 per cent since 2007, it is important for the company to show that its latest rate introduction is justified and, if the company hadn’t locked out its workers almost three months ago, the review could have achieved that.
Now doubts will remain, and likely will worsen as FortisBC continues to lock out its employees and estimate customers’ electricity use.
Scott Ross, IBEW 213 union rep
A West-Nile warning
Saturday afternoon we saw the first signs of distress in our three-year old gelding, Saxton.
He was walking slowly with his head down when we led him out to graze. About three hours later I went to bring the horses in and Saxton was lying down. I could not get him up so my husband came and was able to get him to his feet.
He walked like he was drunk, losing his coordination. We kept an eye on him as my daughter was at work; we were babysitting the farm for her.
Later in the evening I went to check on him again to find he was lying down; I could not get him up. We ended up calling our daughter and once home she called the vet to come out.
He was concerned and gave him a shot of banamine. Sara got up every two hours to get Saxton up and walk him around. By 4:30 am she could no longer get Saxton up, friends were called to help lift him. When they arrived it was apparent that Saxton was going to die as no one tried to move him. We covered him with warm blankets and made him comfortable.
The vet arrived and euthanized him around 10:30 am.
The spraying for the West Nile was halted about three weeks ago and since then they have raised the water. Not to mention that Ducks Unlimited will not let them spray over their marshland on Road 22 to Willow Beach. The toads are endangered and even though what they spray with is eatable, they won’t deal with the mosquitoes.
At this point it has killed a horse. Does a human working in his fields have to get sick before this is dealt with?
Why did the spray program stop? West Nile is at its peak times from May to October.
Why are the marshlands not included in this program? Are ducks more important than other animals and people? Let’s remember that birds are the main carrier, mosquitoes bite the birds and it is transmitted from there.
Jan Brown, Oliver