Hydro smart meters here in a month

Corp. says smart meters will save money, MLA questions that.

BC Hydro deputy project officer Fiona Taylor says corporation will be more efficient.

They’re coming to your house, whether you like it or not.

About 38,000 smart meters are about to be installed in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, starting in December and finishing early in the new year.

And like the 250,000 B.C. residents who already have smart meters installed in their homes, once people learn a little about them, 99 per cent are OK with the idea, said Fiona Taylor, deputy project officer.

Taylor and two Hydro public relations staff were in Maple Ridge on Thursday for MLA Michael Sather’s information evening on the project.

Sather held the meeting at St. Andrews Haney United Church and invited a university professor and questioned Hydro’s business case for the $930-million project.

Hydro estimates it will save $1.6 billion over 20 years by installing the meters. That savings will come from being able to identify electricity theft, monitoring power outages, saving energy and reducing demand, by allowing customers to track their own consumption. That will be possible by April, when a web portal will give each customer access to the data.

Taylor compared the current system to filling up your car’s gas tank, then getting a bill for it after two months.

With real-time information on energy consumption, Hydro will be able to plan its physical assets and energy production more closely to real needs rather than over-estimating possible demand.

However, once a smart meter’s installed, most customers only have to do nothing. Billing amounts shouldn’t increase because the old meters are still relatively accurate compared to the smart meters. A switch to smart meters in California saw bills jump because the old meters weren’t properly recording consumption, she pointed out.

The new smart meters will use wireless technology and send out data three times a day, for a total of less than a minute, to B.C. Hydro.

Should customers wish, they can buy a wireless reader and have the data visible inside their homes. Hydro, though, has to be contacted to provide a secure connection.

Taylor said the measures are expected to save up to $70 million in the first three years.

“There’s no plan to introduce time-of-use rates,” Taylor added.

That measure is used when a utility company has a shortage of capacity, but Hydro isn’t facing that scenario, she said.

“We are not introducing any kind of time-based rates because we don’t have a business case to do so.”

Electricity bills for some homes with smart meters in Ontario climbed because they were introduced during a heat wave, with a blunt time-of-use rate, she added.

Taylor said if people have concerns about the installation of a smart meter, they’ll hold the work order until the customer has been contacted.

Corix, the company that’s installing the meters, should arrive in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows in late  December.

Before they do however, each customer will get a letter explaining the process. Exchanging meters will take about 10 minutes and involve a power outage of a minute. Access to the home isn’t needed.

“There is quite a lot of misinformation out there. What we’re very open to doing is talking to customers.”

Taylor said the electromagnetic frequency emitted from the smart meters over a period of 20 years equates to a 30-minute conversation on a cellphone.

Customer identification and consumption use are not matched until it reaches the data centre. The meters won’t pinpoint the sources of consumption in each house.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Herd of deer camp out in Yennadon front yard

Four bucks and two does rested under the shrubs of a Maple Ridge home Friday

Pitt Meadows technology to help grow leafy greens in Okanagan

Cubic Farms sold 16 of its machines to a company in Armstrong, B.C.

Maple Ridge mom wants justice on two-year anniversary of daughter’s death

Megan Kinnee, 19, died July 13, 2018 after motorcycle crash in Abbotsford

Maple Ridge neighbourhood rallies together for Saturday garage sale

Event aimed to bring Albion residents together – but not too close – while the financially strapped

Farmers market returns to downtown Maple Ridge

Next Saturday, July 18 people can shop at the newly reconfigured market in Memorial Peace Park

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m. near King George SkyTrain station

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Man shot dead in east Abbotsford suburbs

Integrated Homicide Investigative Team called to investigate

Most Read