01/30/2013 08:13 EST | Updated 04/01/2013 05:12 EDT

BC Hydro Smart Meter Installation Not Mandatory, Says Spokesman

BC Hydro

VANCOUVER - BC Hydro is backing off on its insistence that homeowners accept the installation of smart meters.

The move comes after the company installed more than 90 per cent of the high-tech devices across the province.

Hydro spokesman Greg Alexis says with most of the meters in place, the company has decided to take some extra time to work with customers who still have concerns about the equipment.

He says 9,000 customers who initially refused a new meter changed their minds after speaking with Hydro, but he says the meters won't be installed at any home unless the company has the customer's permission.

However, Alexis also says Hydro can’t remove any of the smart meters already installed because they're now standard operating equipment like utility poles and power lines, and the old devices are being recycled and are no longer available.

Some people have refused the meters over concerns about the wireless system the devices use to transmit electrical usage, but Hydro insists the meters are safe and will help people conserve power while also providing faster information about power outages.