• John Jantak

Pincourt asks Hydro to consider moratorium on residential smart meter installation


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Pincourt District 3 Councillor Sam Ierfino who opposes the installation of Hydro-Quebec residential smart meters said no conclusive studies are available to support Hydro’s assertion that there is no health risk for residents from the low radio frequency waves that will be used to transmit data from the smart meters.

The Town of Pincourt has formally requested Hydro-Québec and the Régie de l’énergie Québec to postpone further installation of the power utility’s new radio frequency (RF) emitting smart meters and adopt a moratorium until more indepth and thorough studies are conducted to allay public concerns about their possible health impact.

The announcement was made on the home page of its website under the heading, Next-generation meters – Position of the Town of Pincourt. According to the posting, the decision was based on recent meetings with representatives from Hydro-Québec and Soulanges Refuse, a local group opposed to the installation of smart meters, so that the town could learn more about the issue.

“These meetings showed that Hydro-Québec has not dispelled the fears surrounding next-generation meters,” reads the statement. “Doubts persist as to the long-term effects of the electromagnetic waves transmitted by the pulsed-radiation transceivers with which the meters are equipped, particularly for hypersensitive individuals.

“Moreover, the Town of Pincourt has concerns about the penalties associated with maintaining electromechanical meters. The town considers it unjustifiable for citizens to be charged a penalty, given that merely paying the penalty will not prevent them from being exposed to radio frequencies by nearby meters.”

Homeowners who decide to opt out of the smart-meter program in favour of retaining their current electromechanical meters have to bear a onetime installation charge of about $100 and an annual meter reading fee of just over $200.

Pincourt’s position will have no impact on Hydro-Québec’s current drive to replace meters in the municipality that began over one month ago after the power utility advised residents by mail in early May about the transition.

Pro-Mayor Diane Boyer, who chaired the Tuesday evening council meeting, told Your Local Journal afterwards that a new smart-meter was installed at her house on Duhamel Street about three weeks ago. She would have preferred to have kept the old meter but doesn’t want to pay the additional cost.

Boyer said homeowners on Bellevue Street have also had their old meters replaced with smart-meters and added that the town’s position on the smart meters is shared by all council members including Mayor Yvan Cardinal.

District 3 Councillor Sam Ierfino, who voted against a resolution at the June 10 council meeting opposing the installation of a pole that would transmit Wi-Fi signals from residential smart meters directly to HydroQuébec, said no conclusive studies are available to support Hydro’s assertion that there is no health risk for residents from the low RF waves that will be used to transmit data from the smart meters.

“What we must recognize is that municipalities don’t have the legal authority to challenge Hydro’s position on this matter,” said Ierfino. “The law gives Hydro all the necessary powers to proceed with this type of project. The town felt it was important nonetheless to take a position supporting other municipalities that have adopted resolutions asking for a moratorium and questioning Hydro’s ambitions.”

Hydro-Québec maintains its stance that the smart meters are safe. In a statement sent by email to Your Local Journal in late June, media spokesperson Patrice Lavoie wrote, “HydroQuébec reassures its customers that the next generation meters, as well as associated telecommunications equipment, pose no health risk, as confirmed by Health Canada, the Direction de santé publique and the Royal Society of Canada.

“Radio-frequency emission levels one meter from a smart meter are 120,000 times lower than Health Canada limits,” Lavoie added. “For telecommunications equipment, which are perched high on poles or buildings, radio-frequency levels are also tens of thousands of times lower than Health Canada limits.”

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