Smart Meter deadline missed

Is it program mismanagement or political astuteness by the B.C. Liberals?

While we were enjoying our yuletide festivities, the B.C. Liberal government announced it was not going to make the Dec. 31, 2012 deadline to have all of the 1.87 million smart meters in the province installed.

The deadline was imposed by the Clean Energy Act, which the B.C. Liberals pushed through the legislature in 2010. It included huge changes, as it expanded BC Hydro to include private-power generation development.

At the time, the NDP cried foul because there was limited debate on the changes.

More worrisome for the Opposition was the fact it removed the smart meter program, the Site C dam and Independent Private Power projects from the scrutiny of the British Columbia Utilities Commission.

The NDP sounded the alarm about they perceived as the B.C. Liberals’ gutting of BC Hydro and running it into the ground.

The Opposition warned that it would be the next generation that would have to pick up the tab for the government’s foolhardy approach to power in B.C.

Undaunted, the B.C. Liberals pushed through with smart meter program and sent a dog-and-pony show throughout the province to tell the masses that “smart meters would be good for us and the environment.”

Coming on the heels of the Harmonized Sales Tax fiasco, which the B.C. Liberals tried to ram down the throats of British Columbians, some members of the great unwashed did not accept the smart meter program based on what the government was telling them through its ongoing advertising campaign.

So, there was resistance to the installation program – both political and from environmental groups and private citizens.

On Dec. 27, Energy Minister Rich Coleman announced through a press release that his government failed to make the deadline because of a lack of skilled labour, meters and specialized equipment, and “customer resistance” that resulted in 140,000 meters not being installed.

So, the B.C. Liberals decided to extend the deadline until Dec. 31, 2013 to complete the project because it couldn’t meet the one it set for itself.

Is it just another case of bungling by a government that appears to be flying by the seat of its pants and making decision on a knee-jerk basis?

Or is there something more important involved here?

The B.C. Liberals planned to have its smart meter program up and running this spring, and like the new Family Day holiday, it would be something they could herald as they entered the May 14 provincial election campaign.

Perhaps they decided it might be more prudent not to remind voters of an another program that wasn’t particularly well thought out.

100 Mile House Free Press