Hydro Quebec is getting ready to roll out its new smart meters in the rest of the province after nearly completing the operation in the Montreal area.
And opponents are none too pleased.
A group of 20 people demonstrated before heading into this morning's Energy Board hearings on the authorization of the second and third phases of the installation. Another protest is planned for this Saturday.
The Refuson les Compteurs collective has tabled over 440 briefs before the Energy Board. They describe the smart meter's impact on their health and the grief they get from Hydro workers when they refuse to have them installed.
Rosemont resident Julie Rocque said she put two and two together after doing some research and coming upon studies as well as the Refusons les Compteurs movement.
"For me it was a lot of heart palpitations, real difficulty concentrating, weird fatigue all of a sudden, like fatigue drops, things I've never had in my life," Rocque told CJAD 800 News.
"To me I was able, by chance, to put it together but a lot of people are not able to put it together, because a lot of these symptoms are things that could be caused by other things, insomnia, headaches, etc."
The collective is calling for a moratorium on the installation until more studies are done.
"There's a lot of studies with cellphones, other types of radiofrequencies, but with this one, which is a totally different way of emitting, there's one study in Australia that came out showing people are getting sick with that. So we say, please, before you put that in everybody's homes, stop and let's have more studies, please," said Rocque.
The group denounces the way Hydro Quebec keeps brushing off their concerns and complaints and proceeds to continue with installing the meters.
"It's nothing more than criminal," said Marie-Michelle Poisson, who began the anti-smart meter movement in Villeray.
Hydro Quebec dismisses the concerns as rumour, insisting there are no health issues and citing Health Canada and Royal Society of Canada studies to that effect.
The power utility says they've completed more than 80% of the first phase of the smart meter rollout, with the installation of nearly 1.4-million meters. The first phase should be done by June. It says the rate of refusal for installation stands at below 0.4%.
If the Energy Board approves the next phases, Hydro says all the meters will be installed throughout the province by 2018, for a total of 3.8-million meters.