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Smart meter leaves owners dumbfounded

Malcolm McRae and his wife Rieke were outraged when a BC Hydro smart meter installation left their home without power for hours Wednesday, and initially had them on the hook to pay for electrical repairs. - Martin van den Hemel photo
Malcolm McRae and his wife Rieke were outraged when a BC Hydro smart meter installation left their home without power for hours Wednesday, and initially had them on the hook to pay for electrical repairs.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel photo

Malcolm McRae and his wife Rieke knew long ago that their BC Hydro smart meter was going to soon be installed.

So after returning from a brief lunch in Steveston on Wednesday, they weren't completely surprised by a door hanger that greeted them at the front door, indicating the work had been done.

But the first sign something was amiss happened moments earlier when their garage door opener wouldn't work for some reason.

As it turned out, their power was out, and what should have been a minutes-long installation became an exercise in frustration for the long-time Steveston couple.

They were informed that they'd have to hire an electrician if they wanted the electricity restored.

Something had gone wrong during the install, and they were informed they were on the hook for the repair bill.

"It is really upsetting," Rieke told The Richmond Review. "They're trying to tell you you're at fault, that it's a fire hazard and that you're responsible."

During the installation, one of the four clips that connects the smart meter to the home's electrical wiring, inexplicably snapped off.

It wasn't a simple fix, and the McRaes were told they'd need to hire somebody to fix the problem, since it was their responsibility.

That had them scratching their heads, since their old power meter hadn't been a problem until the installer came by.

But after The Review reached Keith Anderson, BC Hydro's director of deployment for the smart meter project, Rieke was told that the utility provider would be sending over one of its own electricians.

The McRaes were frustrated because they weren't initially given an explanation of what went wrong, why their power was out, and why they were responsible for the fix.

Thankfully by  6 p.m., their power was restored.

"At least I haven't got a bill yet," Rieke said when asked if she was handed a bill.

But she's still upset with how their situation was handled.

"They should have never left the house, and put that hanger there (on the door). We didn't know what was going on here."

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