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Saltspring Island woman launches class action lawsuit over smart meters
Coming on the heels of the decision to allow FortisBC to proceed with its automated metering infrastructure (AMI) program, a B.C. woman has initiated a class action lawsuit against BC Hydro to fight against the installation of a smart meter on her property.
Nomi Davis, a yoga studio owner and instructor from Saltspring Island, is suing BC Hydro for installing the device on her property even though she gave notice she did not want one.
Court documents say Davis was deeply concerned about the radio frequency (RF) emissions and when she asked BC Hydro officials to remove the smart meter, the company threatened to cut off the electrical supply to her home and business.
Court papers filed by Davis, as the lead in the class action, said the installation of the smart meter, which measures electrical consumption, caused Davis “emotional distress”, because it interfered with the quiet enjoyment of her property, which she uses to run her yoga studio and meditation retreats.
“This meter has disrupted the integrity of the space as a sanctuary for meditation, peace of mind and resonant attunement,” the court document states.
Opponents of smart meters claim the device’s continually emit RF waves and pose a serious health risk.
Hundreds of residents from Osoyoos and Oliver have attended public hearings about the health risks some experts say are posed by smart meters and many made presentations to the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) stating their opposition to the FortisBC application to bring smart meters to customers across the South Okanagan.
Three weeks ago, the BCUC released its decision to allow FortisBC to proceed with its AMI program across the South Okanagan,.
However, the commission stated that customers should be allowed to “opt out” of having smart meters installed on their property if they were willing to pay to have the frequency transmitters turned off the smart meters and to have meter readers hired to read their meters.
Davis’ lawyer, David Aaron, issued a news release last week stating the home is a private domain where owners should have control over environmental exposures generated from one’s own domestic dwelling. Davis alleges BC Hydro unlawfully exercised its “monopoly powers” to violate that right by imposing the smart meter on Davis.
BC Hydro said it was obligated to replace Davis’ meter with a smart meter due to safety concerns.
“The meter’s glass was broken and could have compromised the safe delivery of power to the customer,” said Greg Reimer, BC Hydro’s executive director of transmission and distribution.
Davis’ lawsuit demands BC Hydro remove meters from homes of people who don’t want them.
Davis, who contacted the Osoyoos Times in response to an inquiry about the class action lawsuit, said every class action litigation needs “one person to step forward” to lead the claim and she’s more than willing to be that person.
“I want to live my life the way I want and to be happy” and BC Hydro had no right to impose the smart meter against her will, she said.
All other questions about the lawsuit should go through Sharon Noble, the chair of the Citizens for Safe Technology and director of the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters, she said.
Noble said the class action wasn’t filed until the BCUC made its decision on the FortisBC application.
“We have been working on this class action for more than a year, but we did want to wait until the BCUC made its decision on the FortisBC application because we wanted to get whatever information we could that was used in making that decision to be part of the class action,” she said.
The fact FortisBC has been forced to offer an opt out clause is of little consolation to those who are still opposed to smart meters being installed on their property, said Noble.
“It’s going to cost roughly $110 to have the pulsing frequency turned off and another $20 per month to have the meters read once every two or three months and many people just can’t afford that and FortisBC knows it,” she said. “That’s extortion as far as I’m concerned. Telling people they have to have these meters that so many people believe are extremely dangerous installed on their homes or they’re going to have to pay significant costs to take away the risk is basically extortion.”
The BCUC has claimed 60,000 people have objected to the FortisBC AMI project, but the coalition she leads believes that number is in excess of 100,000 with thousands joining every month, said Noble.
The pulsing devices on these meters can be turned off by remote control by the company, yet they want to charge exorbitant fees many people on low and fixed incomes simply can’t afford, she said.
“Many people aren’t going to be able to afford to turn these things off and will have these smart meters shoved down their throats because of it,” she said. “The bottom line is people will have no choice but to have one against their will because they can’t afford to say no.”
It took a lot of guts by Davis to lead this lawsuit and she’s confident the B.C. legal system will uphold the class action because so many people are upset over smart meters being installed on their property against their will, said Noble.
“We’re confident the courts will uphold this class action because there are tens of thousands of people who are being affected by these things,” she said.
“The reality is we need a lot of people to step forward and join the class action and we’re going to need moral and financial support as we proceed through the court system.”
Having these meters installed against so many people opposed to them is “a matter of our civil rights being trampled on” and this issue is not going to go away no matter how badly companies like BC Hydro and FortisBC might want them to, said Noble.
Anyone wanting more information on the class action lawsuit can go to the home page of www.citizensforsafetechnology.org
Noble can also be reached by email at email@example.com