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B.C. businesses join fight against smart meters

Jessica and Joe Klein, owners of Homestead Certified Organic Farm in Peachland, B.C., and opponents of BC Hydro’s smart meter program.

Family photo.

The battle against BC Hydro's smart meter installation has grown, as commercial business owners say they want to join the legal fight residential utility customers are already waging to block the technology.

Jessica Klein and her husband Joe own Homestead Certified Organic Farm, located in the Okanagan community of Peachland. This week, Ms. Klein became the representative for commercial businesses who are against mandatory smart meter installation.

"Doctors, dentists offices, chiropractors offices, and hotels have contacted me," said Ms. Klein. "They are supportive and willing to contribute."

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The group Citizens for Safer Technology is representing Ms. Klein. They filed the expanded class-action lawsuit this week against BC Hydro.

The group hopes to add BC Hydro's commercial customers to the lawsuit that currently exists only for residential customers.

In July 2013 Nomi Davis, a yoga instructor from Salt Spring Island, B.C., launched the original class-action lawsuit against BC Hydro. She claimed BC Hydro installed a smart meter at her residence despite her refusal.

This caused Ms. Davis "emotional distress" by disrupting "the integrity of the space as a sanctuary for meditation, peace of mind and resonate attunement," said court documents.

Ms. Klein's lawsuit is an expansion of this case.

She and her husband live on their farm, which BC Hydro considers a commercial business. They have the option to opt-out of the smart meter on their residence, but not on the farm, said Ms. Klein.

"We are saying we don't want a smart meter anywhere on our property, period," she said. "It rearranges our molecules and it's not good for us."

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BC Hydro said it would keep trying to install a smart meter, and for every time they had to try they would be billed $65 as a punitive measure, according to Ms. Klein.

Smart meters measure power consumption, and then send the information back to BC Hydro using wireless signals.

BC Hydro has said smart meters only broadcast several times a day, and that after living next to a smart meter for 20 years a person would have been exposed to the same amount of radiation as a cell phone call.

But Citizens for Safer Technology supporters have claimed the meters emit radiation that has serious consequences to health.

"Our opinion on the health concerns really differs to BC Hydro," said Ms. Klein. "There are thousands of studies pointing to health problems. We've really done our best on our organic farm to mitigate all of the harmful problems that there are, and it's really upsetting that as taxpayers, they didn't give us the choice."

BC Hydro has said they have no plans to stop using smart meters. In the past, the B.C. Utilities Commission and B.C. Court of Appeal have denied attempts to force Hydro to stop installing smart meters.

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The court still has to accept and certify the expanded case before it moves forward, said Ms. Klein. This has not deterred her.

"There's at least 60,000 households in British Columbia that have resisted," said Ms. Klein. "There might be more than that, we don't know. We have to stay strong, not be intimidated, and really support each other and work with each other."

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