Group calls for moratorium on 'dangerous' smart meters
MONTREAL - The fight against Hydro-Quebec's plan to install smart meters across the province continued on Wednesday as a group of Montrealers called for a moratorium, citing the unknown danger of the radio frequency used by the meters.
"We don't know what's the environmental danger if these smart meters are put in our homes,"said Marie-Michelle Poisson.
A resident of Villeray, Poisson refused to be part of the 18-month, 20,000-customer trial where Hydro-Quebec tested the meters in her neighbourhood and other small markets in the province.
A $350 million project, Hydro-Quebec hopes to have the meters installed province-wide by 2017. The meters can transmit accurate power and water data to the utility, removing the need for manual readings and invoices based on prior usage.
"We have a long way to go is to explain to our customers, one by one, that the technology is safe," said Isabelle Courville, president of distribution for Hydro-Quebec.
Courville said the RF emissions from the new wireless device are 100,000 times below recommended limits. Health Canada compares the signals to those emitted by cell phones and wireless Internet routers.
Despite the reassurances, organizers with the Quebec Coalition to Fight Electromagnetic Pollution want the government to enact tougher standards.
According to McGill Science and Society Director Joe Schwarcz, radio frequency studies are conclusive: the meters will not have negative health effects.
"We know that radiofrequency cannot break chemical bonds and in order to induce cancer you need to break chemical bonds," said Schwarcz.
Poisson cited another concern, her feeling that Hydro-Quebec was ignoring her right to choose.
"I don't have a cell phone, I've never had one. As for WiFi, I will be switching back to cables because I have the choice," said Poisson. "With smart meters, you don't have the choice."