Hydro chases Vancouver renters over bill

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By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver

Monday, July 21, 2014 4:27:28 PDT AM

Residents of an apartment building in the West End say they’re being harassed after being billed by BC Hydro because their building manager refuses to allow smart meters to be installed.

Tenants of the building at 1869 Comox St. all received $65 fees for opting out of the smart meter program, even those who didn’t want to opt out.

Anne Atwood is a senior on a fixed income and said she told BC Hydro they could install the smart meter, but the building manager wouldn’t let them.

Up until last week she’d been trying to get BC Hydro to back off and stop pursuing her for the money, and wants to know why the power authority was allowed to bill renters for the new meters.

“During the initial phone calls they were very rude,” Atwood said. “It felt like they were reading a script … they were not really sympathetic.”

Atwood isn’t the only victim, according to local BC NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, who penned a letter to be sent to BC Hydro Monday over the matter.

Chandra Herbert has been advocating on behalf of the residents and said many fear the outstanding charges will affect their credit rating and said BC Hydro said it would not attempt to collect the fee or show it as a balance owing.

“It distresses me to report to you that BC Hydro has not followed through on these promises,” reads the letter.

BC Hydro insisted it is doing everything it can to help the residents, calling it a “difficult situation” in a statement to 24 hours.

“Once the meters have been installed, BC Hydro will review each customer’s situation to ensure the fee was applied fairly,” said the company in a release. “Failed Installation Fees can be reversed for a number of reasons — including if the customer did not know a third party had blocked access.”

According to the statement, the company has taken steps to protect the credit rating of the affected customers, but Atwood said that hasn’t helped her stress levels and the charge never should have been on the bill in the first