01/05/2015 03:42 EST | Updated 03/07/2015 05:59 EST

Hydro-Québec smart meter opt out deadline arrives

It’s the final day for Quebecers to opt out of Hydro-Québec’s new smart metres at a discounted rate.

After Jan. 5, the installation charge for an alternative, manual meter will increase to $85 instead of $15.

The alternative meter will also require a monthly meter-reading charge of $5.

The deadline applies to those who received a letter from Hydro-Québec or have the new meter already installed. 

The new smart meters enable Hydro-Québec to measure electricity usage remotely, and some residents have complained the wireless signal from smart metres has negative side effects, including headaches.

Hydro-Québec says their smart meters emit a tiny fraction of the radio frequency produced by a common household microwave.​

Less than one per cent of customers have requested an alternative meter, according to the public utility. 

Magog takes a stand

The Town of Magog in the Eastern Townships is advising residents to refuse the new technology and wants to ban smart meters across its territory.

Magog Mayor Vicki May Hamm said the town has sought out legal advice in hopes of passing a by-law banning the technology on its territory.

Hamm said she's still waiting to find out if any such by-law would have weight against the utility.

A large part of the municipality gets its electricity from Hydro Magog, which refused to adopt the technology two years ago.

The town is recommending that people in rural parts of the town, who get service from Hydro-Québec, also opt out of the new installations.

The mayor said another technology, such as fiber optics, could be a better fit and is hoping to launch a pilot project in the municipality to test that theory in the coming year.