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British Columbia Energy Minister Bill Bennett has issued a directive stating that the British Colombia Utilities Commission (BCUC) cannot veto utility BC Hydro's smart meter opt-out fees.

According to a report from the Times Colonist, the order was given before the utility submits its application for the fees in the next few weeks. BC Hydro established the opt-out program this past July after about 60,000 customers refused installations.

The report says that BC Hydro aims to charge $35 a month to customers who want to keep analog meters in lieu of smart meters. The utility's customers also have the option to disable the wireless transmitters for a $100 fee and can have their meters read manually for an additional $20 per month, the report notes.

By law, the BCUC must approve additional charges on the utility's customers. However, Bennett's directive says the commission cannot reject the opt-out fees but only determine whether they are fair. BC Hydro wants to impose the fees this December.

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