12/16/2013 04:39 EST | Updated 02/15/2014 05:59 EST

Majority of smart meter holdouts bow to BC Hydro

A majority of BC Hydro customers who initially said they weren't on board with the switch to so-called smart meters have capitulated in the face of additional monthly fees.

BC Hydro submitted the breakdown of what former smart meter holdouts have agreed to in its recent submission to the B.C. Utilities Commission. The commission is reviewing the fees BC Hydro has proposed to charge customers who insist on using what it calls "legacy meters" under the Meter Choices Program.

Thousands of B.C. residents objected to the mandatory installation of the wireless smart metres when the program was announced, citing concerns about health and privacy.

The numbers show that more than 70 per cent of the 68,000 customers who did not have a smart meter last summer and who registered dissent with BC Hydro opted, in the end, to take a smart meter. 

Just under 10 per cent of the group were firm in their decision to keep their old meters, and roughly 20 per cent did not get back in touch with BC Hydro, and will also keep their old meters by default.

At the beginning of December, BC Hydro started charging a $35 monthly surcharge from each of those 19,380 customers, or 30 per cent of the holdouts. BC Hydro says those keeping the old meters represent about one per cent of all BC Hydro customers.

Another 450 customers opted for a "radio-off" smart meter, which will cost them a $100 installation fee and a $20 monthly surcharge that goes into effect in April.

BC Hydro said it needs to charge additional fees to customers who want to use the old meters or who will accept a new meter but only with its radio-transmission capabilities turned off. The fees are meant to cover the additional cost of collecting electricity use data manually from meters that won't be transmitting the data wirelessly.