By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: May 5, 2012
When BC Hydro engineers come to install smart meters at the Paradise Valley home of Ferdinand Vondruska, they shouldn’t expect a warm welcome.
What they should expect is regular metres wrapped in a protective metal, and an unapologetic Vondruska, who is even willing to take BC Hydro to court.
“BC Hydro has no right to come to my property, and if they do, I will take them to court,” Vondruska, who owns a 20-acre property in Paradise Valley, said.
BC Hydro has started installing smart meters in Squamish and the Sea to Sky Corridor, said Cindy Verschoor, a BC Hydro spokesperson.
She said installations started a few weeks ago in the region. More than 1,000 meters have been installed, while there are 24,000 that are waiting to be installed.
“We have been talking to consumers about smart meters for about three years now, and we go with advanced notice,” she said.
Vondruska is one of several British Columbians who resist smart meters fearing the exposure to the radio frequency will have health consequences.
Vondruska runs the C-Dar Lodge Farm, a biodynamic demonstration farm that has two homes, one lodge, and eight analog meters to service them all.
Vondruska said he does “highly sensitive” research on soil revitalisation, samples of which are taken to the University of Colima in Mexico to help with soil fertility in that country.
Vondruska fears the electric impulse from the smart meter will meddle with the soil samples.
“It’s like poking someone with the needle, the soil life will die and the enzymes won’t grow,” he said.
Fear of radiation by BC Hydro meters is completely unfounded, said Verschoor.
They have been considered safe by every local, provincial, or federal agency that has examined them.
“If you stood in front of smart meters for 20-years, it would be the equivalent of the radio frequency of a 30-minute cell phone call,” she said.
She also said smart meters have some of the world’s strictest radio frequency regulations.
Switzerland has a precautionary limit of 4.5 μW/cm2 for highly sensitive areas like schools and hospitals. Smart meter signals at the same distance are less than 2 μW/cm2, she added.
She said about 99 per cent of the population is willing to have the meters installed, but there is the one per cent that resists.
BC Hydro won’t force customers to accept it, but will try to dissipate their misgivings about it.
Those who resist, however, increase the cost of service for others, which is inevitably transferred to those who have accepted the meters, the spokesperson added.