Gord Springford returned from vacation in January of last year to find the power out at his home.
Upon inspection, he discovered that a new smart meter had been installed in his absence.
Power was going on and off every 20 minutes, said Springford, who then called B.C. Hydro to report the problem.
It was when a representative showed up that Springford said he was told the meter box had been damaged, but that he would be responsible for the cost of repairing it.
Furthermore, it was a hazard, Springford said, and he was faced with the prospect of having his power shut off until he found an electrician to fix it.
As it was late in the evening, he said he told the technician to put the smart meter back in and leave.
"I guess the technician that was out there in January cinched down (the loose connection) as much as he could, and it was more or less working," said Springford, who runs a business from his home as a real estate appraiser.
However, two weeks ago, the problem of intermittent power outages and surges started up again, setting off his fire alarm and causing his computer modem to short out.
Springford said when he called a variety of B.C. Hydro representatives, including a supervisor, he was again told that any repairs were his responsibility.
"My argument is, they broke it.
They're the ones who damaged it. Why should I be out of pocket to pay for it?" said Springford.
Friday morning, he was contacted by representatives from the Smart Meter Initiative, who told him they would fix the problem at no cost to him.
"It was a mistake on our part. For some reason this issue never made it to the right area in Hydro to be dealt with," said Ted Olynyk, B.C. Hydro spokesman.
"We apologize for the inconvenience this customer may have experienced."
There have been 2,100 situations out of the 1.8 million installations in which the meter sockets needed to be repaired, said Olynyk.
Springford said he was pleased with the outcome, though he is concerned about whether other people would have been as tenacious as he was in refusing to pay for the repairs.
Smart meters have been a controversial technology since last fall, when the $930-million installation program started.
The meters send digital information wirelessly, and proponents say they provide vital information about peak demand usage that is useful for energy planning and consumption reduction.
Opponents say the meters have resulted in unexpectedly high hydro bills, and have raised concerns about the meters' potential health effects, privacy violations and the possibility of peak-hour billing.
In mid-July, energy minister Bill Bennett and Hydro confirmed they are exploring the possibility of a program where customers would be permitted to have a wireless-free smart meter, as long as they pay for a technician to manually read the meter.
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