This has caused a great deal of angst and worry in our community. None of us can afford the fees, but we also don't want to have a bank of 25 smart meters humming away in our basement that could threaten the health of our children and people with heart conditions.
Those of us who are concerned about the fees have been worried that we would alienate our neighbours if we signed the forms giving our consent and mailed them in, but at the same time we did not want our power cut off if we couldn't pay.
So, as usual at Pacific Gardens, we had a meeting to discuss what we were all feeling and what we could or should do next. We were guided in our discussion by questions raised by our sister cohousing community, Windsong in Langley.
For us, as for them, our main concern was how we could come together as a community and create consensus on an issue that has so much potential for division, pitting those on limited incomes against those who are worried about health effects, privacy issues, and increased billings.
The meeting was excellent. There was a good attendance from both renters and owners, and everyone had a chance to speak and be heard. We made a decision to hold off sending in responses to B.C. Hydro and to meet again early next month to plan our next steps.
We'll use the extra time to gather more information, get advice from other groups, figure out possible options, see if the class action suit for a no-fee opt-out is successful, and hear what the B.C. Utilities Commission has to say about the proposed fees.
We're also going to investigate whether we can have wired meters connected to an outside transmitter. This was an option suggested to us by B.C. Hydro before, but of course, it could cost us. However, if it means we can have a smart meter-free building, it would be worth it.
If we can keep our status as a building without smart meters, Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community would be one of the few places in B.C. where people opposed to them could live - and there are thousands who do.