Barbara and Geoffrey Wellspring-Wood have discovered it’s getting too expensive to do what they believe is necessary to protect their health.
A retired couple who rent a rural acreage in Tappen, the Wellspring-Woods refused one of BC Hydro’s smart meters. For that decision, they have been paying the monthly $32.40 Legacy Meter charge since Dec. 2, 2013 – a fee they have accepted.
“We really don’t feel comfortable with wireless technology. We don’t have cell phones and anything wireless in our homes and we didn’t want to plug in a so-called ‘smart meter’ into our house,” says Geoffrey.
Then, on Oct. 24, 2014, they received a retroactive $369.47 bill for a second meter on the property.
Geoffrey put the second meter on the barn about 10 years ago, where they keep goats and chickens to reduce their expenses. A glitch in BC Hydro’s accounting system apparently failed to notice the second meter so the couple wasn’t aware they were going to be charged a double legacy fee.
While the Wellspring-Woods are fine paying for the electricity the meter uses, they are not pleased about having to pay a legacy fee for a second meter when they are one residential customer.
“I personally think that is a bit much, it’s a bit unfair…,” states Geoffrey. “I’m a customer in the singular and we happen to have two meters, that’s all. I accept I have to pay for a legacy meter on the house. Just the way it is, it’s a very high payment.”
He said half of the retroactive legacy fee was deleted after they approached their MLA and also because BC Hydro can’t retroactively bill beyond six months.
Geoffrey points out that each billing period of two months is now costing the senior citizens $129.60 plus GST, just in Legacy fees – an onerous amount for them.
BC Hydro, however, maintains the two fees are fair.
An email response to the Observer from the Crown corporation states:
“The fees to retain a non-standard meter (i.e. old meter) cover more than just reading the meter. They also help recover the additional costs of maintaining resources, equipment and systems that are needed to serve these customers with non-communicating meters.
“The fees are fair and ensure that the 99 per cent of customers who have accepted a smart meter aren’t subsidizing those costs. The fees were approved by the BC Utilities Commission in April 2014 and are now part of the bill for customers who chose to have non-standard meters.
“In regards to Mr. Wellspring’s situation, the customer asked to change his second account (the barn) from commercial to residential in September 2013. At that time, the customer should have received a Meter Choices enrolment form but regrettably one was never sent and the fee to keep this old meter came into effect Dec. 2, 2013…
“We feel this is a fair resolution for the customer and all BC Hydro ratepayers. Again, there is a cost to BC Hydro to have some customers not have a smart meter and recovering these fees ensures the vast majority of customers don’t pay for those costs.”