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Smart Meters, Earth Day

Big Brother Arrives in the Front Room

By —— Bio and Archives--April 22, 2010

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SmallTown, America-Earth Day, 2010.  The doorbell rang early this morning and was answered to an employee of the local Hydro company telling us that the ‘hood was being hooked up for “Smart Meter” “a new way to think about electricity”.

For those who would return home after work to flashing electrical appliances, a brochure left in the mailbox would tell them,  “As part of the Ontario Government’s Smart Meter Plan, Smart Meter was installed today.” 

The electricity to the house would only be cut for a few minutes, the Hydro guy intoned.

As the power would not be cut off for the next half hour, I rushed the column I was working on to IT for posting.

“Your Smart Meter is the first step in building Ontario’s new smart metering system and a key step in building a culture of conservation,” read the card they left in my mailbox.  “By the end of 2010 every home and small business in Ontario will have a Smart Meter.”

There was little comfort in the statement: “For now, nothing will change.”  The new meter will continue to work just like my current one.  “There will be no immediate change to how your electricity rates work, or how you will be billed.”

But even a cursory leaf through the government’s Smart Meters booklet told me how dramatically things, including Mr. Edison’s incandescent light bulb,  have changed for people everywhere: “Replace your most frequently used incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) which use 75 percent less power and last up to 10 times longer,” is the government’s edict. 

There were shades of UN poster boy Maurice Strong who wants us not to eat meat or use air conditioning: “Consider a fan first for cooling.  Ceiling and portable fans cost pennies to operate, and can either replace or reduce your need for air conditioning.”

“Keep your curtains closed to keep the summer heat out and the winter heat in.  But you can open them on sunny winter days to take advantage of solar heat.”  (Mighty big of them!)

Almost overnight, Big Brother has arrived in your front room, giving the government the ability to turn the heat up or down.

When hydro arrived at the door this morning, I wondered about people hooked up to electronic medical devices and could think of a thousand and one scenarios where someone could be put at risk.

Can’t imagine bureaucracies like city hall and hydro surveying the neighbourhood to ensure no one would have their oxygen intake jeopardized before coming to hook the neighbourhood up to Smart Meter.

While watching the rubber-booted Hydro guys going up the walks to ring neighbourhood bells, I noticed that one walked all the way down the street over lawns and even through gardens with the sidewalk only a few paces away.

Their lack of respect for the environment brought to mind the City TV SUV I saw only the other day with the words: “This black truck is green” painted on the vehicle’s sides.

Crushing flowers and greenery with the sidewalk only steps away is not pollution in its own way?

That today is Earth Day made it all the more ironic.

Their job now complete,  the Hydro guys jumped back into their van, the driver belting down a MacDonalds breakfast as he was driving away and his workmate sipping coffee from a styrofoam cup.

While Big Brother invaded front rooms, the mayors of small town North America, were out in their communities presiding over some Earth Day celebration.

Judi McLeod -- Bio and Archives | Comments

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Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years’ experience in the print media. A former Toronto Sun columnist, she also worked for the Kingston Whig Standard. Her work has appeared on Rush Limbaugh,, Drudge Report,

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