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Judge shoots down smart meter suit against BC Hydro

A British Columbia court has denied class-action status to asuit that challenges the BC Hydroand Power Authority's right to install smart meters in homes, whichthe complainants called an invasion of privacy.

In a July 12 judgment the Supreme Court of British Columbia turneddown an application to have the action certified as a class action, effectivelyending the suit. Justice Elaine Adair found there was no way to test the main issuein the case, which is that exposure to smart meters causes biological effects andhuman harm in violation of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

While two groups behind the lawsuit, the Coalition to Stop SmartMeters and the Citizens for Safe Technology Society, believe the devices can causeirreparable harm, "for others, that position simply represents the triumphof groundless hysteria over good science, and holds the prospect that BC Hydro'sremaining customers will have to pay higher rates," Adair wrote in her decision.

BC Hydro was required to install so-called smart meters for mostcustomers by the end of 2012 under the province's Clean Energy Act. The complainantsargued that the meters, which transmit consumption data, are a violation of the"the right to life, liberty and security of the person," claiming radiowaves emitted by the devices is harmful.

Since 2013 BC Hydro has allowed individuals to opt out of thesmart meter program at their own cost. The suit claimed that action is a violationof personal choice.

Evidence presented in the case "shows that questions offact that could only be determined on an individual basis completely overwhelm anyquestions that might be common, making a class proceeding unworkable," Adairwrote. "I have concluded that the plaintiffs have failed to meet the requirementunder [the Class Proceedings Act] s. 4(1)(c) regarding certifiable common issues.This is fatal to the certification application."

The suit is Davis v. BritishColumbia Hydro and Power Authority, 2016, BCSC 1287. BC Hydro said in a separatestatement it is pleasedwith the outcome of the suit.

"Smart meters are now a part of our standard operating equipmentand have been delivering benefits to BC Hydro and our customers for more than fouryears," the province-owned utility said in a July 12 statement. "We haverealized [C]$100 million in benefits in the first three years of the program includingreductions in electricity theft."