By Susan Holvenstot

Already two have had their power cut off –both of them “Smart” Meter resisters.  Rotraut in Fanny Bay, and Chris in Merville. For concerns about health, fire safety, privacy and freedom of choice they decided not to accept the “smart meter” being installed province wide last December.

They filed legal documents, posted signs and tried to protect the integrity of their homes. They each decided not to pay part of the $32 month penalty fee, charged by BC Hydro for keeping their old functional analog meters. Thus they had “overdue” amounts.

On Oct 30 Rotraut returned home to find a red tag on her now-motionless analog (legacy) meter. The local media reacted appropriately, and she was TV news across Vancouver Island. One of the local papers rans a strong editorial condemning BC Hydro for cutting off this senior, days before a BC Hydro “winter season-cold weather” moratorium started on Nov 1. (This claimed policy was only so much hot air from BC Hydro.)

Then on Nov 5, Chris found a BC Hydro female worker disconnecting her Merville home. Both are still without power, for different reasons.

Who are these women? Are they just cranks who brought this misfortune upon themselves? Or do they have real reasons for not wanting a “smart” meter?

Rotraut is of German descent and told me “I won’t pay Hitler” regarding the $32 per month “legacy” (analog) meter penalty fee. Although the BC Utilities Commission had NO say in the decision to impose the Smart Meter grid across BC, they were asked to decide on the fee to be charged for “smart meter opt out”. They lowered the request from BC Hydro of $35 per month to $32.40 per month. (And on Sept 24, Quebec Hydro was ordered to lower their “opt-out” fees from $17 to $ 7 per month.)

Rotraut has lived oh Hornby Island in the past, with its frequent power outages, and was preparing to go off-grid in her Ships Point home. The disconnection has only speeded up that process. She had saved up money to install a solar energy system, and is now figuring out exactly what is available on the market – actually quite a lot.

Chris is not ready to go off grid, and while she has been ably supported by neighbours with office space and baths, knows she will eventually have to bite the bullet, and pay the outstanding fees before more cold weather.

I just heard from another single older woman, this time in Comox. She has her analog meter, and has only paid for her electric use and GST. A BC Hydro worker arrived at her house on Nov 3, planning to cut the power. This brave woman said she had medical conditions, and could NOT be cut off, and the BC Hydro worker, also a woman, backed down. My new Comox person still has her power in spite of a $400 overdue bill. Is there any consistency?

So are these women cranks? No, they are part of the unknown thousands of BC Hydro customers who don’t want “smart” meters installed in their homes. We have formed the informal Comox Valley Smart Meter Resisters group, and so far we have 130 names from our 4 public events.  And more call me every week.  We have had informal gatherings where over 60 people attend, and tell their stories. We have protested outside MLA Don McRae’s office, and have shown the great film, Take Back Your Power.  While there is not much media interest after the first cut off, and our MLA is trying to write us off, we will not stop.

Many of us have used the unique documents provided by These use the English Common Law, Claim of Right, to assert that the analog meters are our private property, and not to be tampered with by BC Hydro. It seems to have worked for most of us, though BC Hydro still threatens disconnection. It is becoming more apparent that keeping your analog meter is very important, even if you have to pay the extortion of the monthly penalty fee.

Back to Rotraut in Fanny Bay. So how is a 71 year old woman dealing with having her power cut-off? She had chosen her house and property wisely. She is part of the Ships Point Water system, meaning she gets pressurized water into her home. Even without power she has running water and a toilet that flushes.

She has a 500 gallon propane tank outside which feeds her propane furnace. It was a warm house when I visited her during the last cold spell. (Chris in Merville has a lovely woodstove and lots of wood stacked.). Currently Rotraut has a single extension cord from a supportive neighbor  to her low-energy fridge/freezer.  Once she decides on which solar system she needs,  (mostly variously sized solar panels and batteries) she will be independent from BC Hydro altogether.

Heating, whether for the house, the stove or showers, is the major weakness in solar.  Thus the propane. Rotraut will put in an “on-demand”‘propane water heater.  A few panels and a $600 golf cart 12 V battery will usually run all the lights, computers, radio and TV that one needs in a small home. You could even charge your electric bike!!  (That’s sort of an inside joke.)

I’ve had so much fun telling you about Rotraut’s “grid-free” plans that I don’t want to miss the part about WHY These women  don’t want “smart ” meters.

Why not take a “smart” meter?  Let me count the ways.

1) ElectroMagnetic Radiation (EMR) is classified by WHO as a human cancer risk, class 2 B, about equivalent to 8 cups of coffee per day.

No government agency would have the right to come into one’s home or place of business and force those inside to drink coffee throughout the day, against their will. The right of choice to drink coffee, with its risks, has to remain the right of the individual. It is the same situation with microwave smart meters.

From Coalition to Stop Smart Meters

2) Health effects have been long recognized. See this 1994 US Air Force study. “Low intensity wireless radiation has a profound effect on biological processes.”

Also see

3) “Earlier this year, the province ordered SaskPower to remove the more than 100,000 smart meters that had already been installed, following at least eight fires linked to the devices.” Nov 7, 2014 CTV Report , Another Sask Smart Meter fire.

4) For me the worst part of the Smart Meter grid is the invasion of privacy and surveillance probabilities. I googled Smart Meter Data-Privacy and Cyber Security, and found a fascinating article of that same name, published by the (United States) Congressional Research Services- very authorative.

“Installation of smart meters and the communications technologies that accompany them may have unforeseen legal consequences for those who generate, seek, or use the data recorded by the meters. ” (page 2)

5) Also see the article “How Privacy (Or Lack of It) Could Sabotage the Grid” from EMRHA -Electro Magnetic Radiation Health Alliance

I also found a letter from the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, (Nov 14, 2013) saying “Only four hours of exposure to a standard laptop using wifi caused damage to human sperm.”

For those who want a total “divorce” from BC Hydro we are gathering information on solar and other sustainable energy resources. There are established contractors and Information groups in Cumberland, Nanaimo, Gabriola, Duncan and Victoria. ( Cowichan Solar, Peter Nix, Cowichan Carbon Buster

BCSEA (BC Sistainable Energy Assoc)NEWS,

OK, that’s a lot to take in,  but check it out. Here’s the latest news- Solar Panels that Glue onto Roofs could almost eliminate installation costs.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Susan Holvenstot lives in Dove Creek outside Courtenay. She still has her analog meter, but is paying  parts of the penalty fees, “under duress” so her tenant and land partners, on a shared meter, are not left “out in the cold, and dark.”photocmyk