BC Hydro Breaks Down Barricade to Install Smart Meter in Nanaimo

By Kim Goldberg

August 14, 2013 

Jurgen Goering has one more smart meter today than he had yesterday - and not by choice. (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

Jurgen Goering has one more smart meter today than he had yesterday – and not by choice. (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

NANAIMO, BC—One month after BC Energy Minister Bill Bennett announced that smart meters are no longer mandatory for citizens who do not want one, a Nanaimo man had a smart meter forcibly installed, and his property vandalized in the process, by an individual who appears to have been a BC Hydro employee. 

Jurgen Goering has one more smart meter on his home today than he did yesterday. And not by choice. 

Jurgen shows me the plywood barricade he had  placed over his three remianing analogue meters, with holes cut for meter-reading. BC Hydro broke the locks off the plywood to force a smart meter on him. (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

Jurgen shows me the plywood barricade he had placed over his three remaining analogue meters, with holes cut for meter-reading. BC Hydro broke the locks off the plywood to force a smart meter on him. (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

I visited Goering at his downtown Nanaimo home this afternoon. He told me that an unidentified man driving a BC Hydro van and wearing civilian clothes entered his backyard yesterday around 2:00 pm, broke through his padlocked plywood barricade guarding his three remaining analogue meters, and exchanged one of them for a wireless smart meter while Goering stood there telling him to leave. 

“This really shakes my faith in the political system and in BC Hydro,” Goering told me. 

“What [Energy Minister] Bill Bennett did when he announced the opt-out last month was to send a message that the war in the backyards is over. So why did this happen?” Goering asks. 

Goering says he confronted the installer on the spot yesterday and told him he was trespassing. 

“I also told him I was the homeowner and I was not granting permission,” says Goering.

BC Hydro ripped the woodscrews out of the plywood barricade to get past the padlock just one month after BC Energy Minister Bill Bennett said no one would be forced to have a smart meter against their will. (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

BC Hydro ripped the woodscrews out of Jurgen Goering’s plywood barricade to get a smart meter on his Nanaimo home one month after BC Energy Minister Bill Bennett said no one would be forced to have a smart meter against their will. (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

The installer, who had already ripped out the woodscrews holding the padlock on the plywood barricade, continued installing the smart meter beside a posted sign forbidding it and then left, Goering told me. 

Goering’s home has four hydro meters on it – one for each separate residence. And he owns the entire building. One of the four meters had been replaced with a smart meter a year earlier, when a tenant moved out and contacted BC Hydro to close the account. Goering was using plywood and padlocks to protect the other three analogue meters on his home from a similar fate. 

RCMP Non-responsive

Goering says he also phoned the police while the unauthorized installation was in progress. But the police told him to phone BC Hydro instead, leaving Goering dumbfounded.  

“Someone’s invading the privacy of your home and premises, and you can’t get them off your land?” Goering asks. 

Last month, on July 11, BC Energy Minister Bill Bennett announced that the province will now offer citizens alternatives to the once mandatory smart meter program. 

“People who want to opt out can,” Bennett stated. “They will not be forced to have a smart meter, but they are going to have to pay the costs… We don’t want to force people to have a smart meter if they really don’t want one,” Bennett told the public. “It’s not our intention to offend people or bully people.” 

Either someone forgot to inform BC Hydro of the Minister’s new policy, or else the government’s promise of an opt-out option for customers was never genuine to begin with. 

Jurgen Goering tends is tomatoes in his lush organic food garden in has backyard, and mulls the Orwellian implications of BC Hydro's forced installation of a smart meter on his home. (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

Jurgen Goering tends his tomatoes in his lush organic food garden in his backyard and mulls the Orwellian implications of BC Hydro’s forced installation of a smart meter on his home. (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

“It’s like living in George Orwell’s 1984,” says Goering. “It’s double-speak and double-think. They say one thing and do the opposite.” 

Last month two BC organizations, Citizens for Safe Technology and Coalition to Stop Smart Meters, filed a class action lawsuit against BC Hydro to force the corporation to adopt a genuine opt-out option in which customers will be allowed to keep or revert to their analogue meters, and pay no additional costs for their choice. 

More information about the lawsuit is here

Kim Goldberg is an award-winning journalist and author in Nanaimo, BC. Her next book, REFUGIUM: Wi-Fi Exiles and the Coming Electroplague, is due out in 2014. 
Text and images copyright © Kim Goldberg, 2013. 

6 thoughts on “BC Hydro Breaks Down Barricade to Install Smart Meter in Nanaimo

  1. Rampage_Rick

    Agents of BC Hydro can’t be charged with trespassing if they’re performing their duties, just as with police officers and land surveyors. They have the legal right to be there under the terms of the agreement you make when you open an account. These terms have been part of the government-sanctioned tariffs for decades:

    “BC Hydro’s agents and employees shall have, at all reasonable times, free access to the
    equipment supplied with Electricity, and to BC Hydro’s meters, wires and apparatus on the
    Customer’s Premises, for the purpose of reading meters and testing, installing, removing,
    repairing or replacing any of BC Hydro’s equipment, and to ascertain the quantity or method of
    use of service and the amount of Electricity consumed. If access to meter rooms or other
    locations where BC Hydro equipment is installed is restricted, the Customer shall supply BC
    Hydro with lockbox keys or other keys or means of access as may be necessary to provide BC
    Hydro with ready access to those locations.”

    Given that they own the meters, they have as much right to cut locks off their meters just as you would have if someone chained your car to a tree.

    Reply
    1. Kim Goldberg Post author

      See Bob’s comment below, Rick. He is correct. BC Hydro is installing a potentially carcinogenic surveillance device – a microwave transmitter on people’s homes against homeowners’ express wishes.This is not merely a “meter”. It is not legal for someone to install a microwave transmitter on your property or person against your will.

      Reply
  2. Bob Bichen

    But it’s not just a meter that they installed, it’s a transmitter, which emits an IARC Class 2B carcinogen. This is a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to security on your premises. The installer should be charged with criminal trespass and assault with a (microwave) weapon.

    Reply
  3. hovnonasrat

    It is in my head too ….they have right to install new METER when old is not working. But NOT the any TRANSMITTER ; without technical certificate and without YES from people around..not only Yes from house owner….like cell tower and etc.!!! I think everybody who made some technical equipment need certificate and this equipment must to be safe for everybody!

    Reply
  4. Greg Shea

    I face this same issue tomorrow, Monday, March 23, 2015. I will be a very reluctant participant!

    Greg Shea (Lake Cowichan)

    Reply

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