British Columbia Utilities Commission report rejects any health risks from smart meter emissions – but gives an opt-out provision
The British Columbia Utilities Commission’s panel hearings on the introduction of advanced metering infrastructure (smart grid and meters) have concluded with the Commission’s expert panel publishing its findings in a 213 page report. I have copied below the main conclusions (in my opinion). The only ‘good’ thing is that the commission has mandated an opt out provision so that people who do not want a smart meter can opt for a smart meter that has the wireless capability disabled. However I think this is only because the Commission is hoping that by this move the vocal public opposition to the smart grid will disappear with the opposition quietly opting out with a supposedly silenced smart meter. Then FortBC can get on rolling out their smart grid all over the province with no opposition. Then at a later date all those people with silenced smart meters, and who will be getting excessive electricity bills as a result, will give in and accept an active smart meter. As for the reported health hazards the Commission is its wisdom has rejected it entirely by claiming that the ICNIRP based Safety Code 6 provides protection from thermal effects, non-thermal effects and incorporates an adequate degree of precaution.
The folks at ICNIRP will be very pleased.
British Columbia Utilities Commission
IN THE MATTER OF
CERTIFICATE OF PUBLIC CONVENIENCE AND NECESSITY
FOR THE ADVANCED METERING INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT
July 23, 2013
L.F. Kelsey, Commissioner/Panel Chair
N.E. MacMurchy, Commissioner
D.M. Morton, Commissioner
Excerpts from pp. 105 – 114
10.0 RADIO FREQUENCY EMMISSIONS AND HEALTH
The proposed AMI system transmits data wirelessly at Radio Frequencies. RF emissions and potential impacts on health was a key matter of concern raised at the Community Input Sessions and at the Oral Hearing.
In hearing evidence on the potential human health effects of AMI meters, the Panel sought to ensure that the concerns expressed by the general public and registered interveners were addressed through the evidentiary record. The goal of the Panel was to arrive at a decision that considers, in the words of Mr. Flynn, “… independent, science-based evidence” (J. Flynn Final Argument, p. 1).
One of a series of safety codes prepared by the Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau, Health Canada is ‘Safety Code 6: Limits of Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Energy in the Frequency Range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz’ (Safety Code 6). Safety Code 6 specifies the requirements for the safe use of, or exposure to, radiation emitting devices…
In order to make its determination on matters related to health and safety, the Commission Panel must weigh several inter-related issues. Over the course of several days of Community Input Sessions, a two-week Oral Hearing, and from nearly two hundred Letters of Comment, the Commission Panel has distilled the many issues related to health down to two key points:
Is Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 applicable to the type of technology used in the proposed Project?
Are the emission standards set out in Safety Code 6, if they are applicable to AMI meters, sufficient to protect the health of FortisBC’s customers. Alternatively, are they flawed to the extent that the Commission must set its own exposure standards?
The Panel recognizes that many individuals expressed concerns, both general and specific, about the potential impacts on their health from the proposed Project. The Panel addresses those concerns below.
Upon review of the contents of Industry Canada’s RSS-102 specifications, the Panel agrees with FortisBC that while the proposed AMI technology is exempted from the routine evaluation as laid out in RSS-102, it is not exempt from compliance with Safety Code 6. Safety Code 6 remains the relevant standard for health effects from radio-frequency EMF. Further, the Panel finds that the frequency of the RF emissions from the Project are within the range of frequencies addressed by Safety Code 6.
There were three issues raised with respect to the adequacy of Safety Code 6. These are:
The treatment of thermal effects;
The treatment of non-thermal effects; and
Whether the precautionary principle is adequately embodied.
FortisBC customers. While there was disagreement over the adequacy of Safety Code 6 in dealing with non-thermal effects, the Panel agrees with FortisBC that the exposure limits in Safety Code 6 were established based upon a thorough evaluation of the scientific literature including potential non-thermal effects. No intervener provided scientific evidence that persuaded the Panel that Safety Code 6 fails to adequately protect FortisBC customers from non-thermal effects. Safety Code 6 has applied a significant safety factor to the allowable exposure levels and is subject to an ongoing evaluation of scientific literature by Health Canada. For these reasons, the Panel finds that Safety Code 6 provides protection from thermal effects, non-thermal effects and incorporates an adequate degree of precaution.
Overall conclusions (in part)
From pp 156 – 157:
Accordingly, the Panel approves a CPCN for the Project with a capital budget, including approved CPCN Development Costs, of $50.898 million ($51.173 million – $275,000) as described in this Decision, subject to a condition that FortisBC must confirm by August 1, 2013, that it will file an application for an opt-out provision that follows the direction in Section 11.4. As previously outlined in this Decision, FortisBC is directed to bring forward a proposal for an opt-out provision by November 1, 2013. In approving the CPCN the Panel made other decisions, which are listed in Section 13.0.
* The Panel finds that Safety Code 6 provides protection from thermal effects, non-thermal effects and incorporates an adequate degree of precaution.
* The Panel is not persuaded by the evidence provided that Safety Code 6 fails to protect the public from cumulative or chronic health risks from RF emissions.
Therefore, the Commission directs FortisBC to design and bring forward to the Commission for approval an opt-out program based on the following principles:
* Customers may choose to opt-out of accepting a wireless transmitting meter.
* Customers who choose to opt-out will be provided with an AMI meter that has the wireless transmit functions disabled. Transmit functions on these meters will remain disabled until the individual chooses to opt
back in to the AMI program; in the event that the customer moves to a new property, the opt-out choice will move with the customer.
* The incremental cost of opting-out of the AMI program will be borne by the individual choosing to opt-out.
* The Panel directs FortisBC to file an application for an opt-out program, based on the principles outlined above by November 1, 2013.
• The Panel directs FortisBC to report on customer concerns regarding accuracy of the AMI meters in its project reporting process
DATED at the City of Vancouver, in the Province of British Columbia, this 23rd day of July 2013.
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