Smart meter battle leaves Hatzic woman with no power

Ewa Gryz and her renters left in dark after BC Hydro says "legacy meters" no longer available.

Ewa Gryz wants keep her old hydro meter or have it replaced with a 'legacy meter'

By Owen Munro

A desire to keep a 74-year-old “beautiful” BC Hydro meter and an unwillingness to accept a new unit has left Ewa Gryz without power for a week.

Gryz said BC Hydro shut off power to her Hatzic home on Oct. 25 over her refusal to have her meter replaced, either with a smart meter or a “radio-off” meter with no communication ability.

Gryz wants an old-style legacy meter, something the Crown corporation says it can no longer supply. Gryz claims she was told conflicting things, and is adamant that legacy meters are currently available as her son had one installed recently.

Hydro spokesperson Mora Scott said it isn’t possible to get a legacy meter any longer because they’re being phased out – and keeping the current meter isn’t legally possible due to an expired Measurement Canada seal. She said Gryz was offered a replacement radio-off meter.

“Several years ago, customers could choose to keep their old meter, but at some point the seal was going to expire,” Scott said. “We’ve been reaching out to her through letters and calls since last September, and unfortunately we didn’t get a response.

“At some point we are legally obligated by Measurement Canada regulations to remove the seal.”

Smart meters use the same radiofrequency waves as FM radios, televisions and cell phones to send data to power operators. Their installation has been fought by some residents worried about their health effects, despite Health Canada and other agencies declaring them safe.

Electricity meters have nylon or metal wiring on them to discourage tampering. All meters have seals, and Scott said the seal on Gryz’s meter is well past the expiry date.

With people renting the upstairs of her house, Gryz said she has become “very stressed out” over what has become a three-year battle over the meter’s replacement.

Without power, her renters have moved into a hotel.

“They are just left without power, and I mean, where are they going to go?” she said. “They are not prepared, they have to work. They have nothing.”

The Record was not able to reach them.

Although many other homes in her neighbourhood have recently converted to smart meters, Gryz insists she is prepared to battle with the company until she can have a legacy meter installed outside her home

“I’m just standing for those people who are being told they can do nothing about it, that it’s mandatory. This is bullying in a big way, and that should never happen.