July 19, 2013 - 2:13 PM
VICTORIA - Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines, announced today that BC Hydro will offer new options for customers who have put their smart meters on hold.
Government is responding to public concerns by providing opt-out options with the costs borne by those customers and not subsidized by the majority, who have a standard BC Hydro smart meter. BC Hydro customers who do not currently have a smart meter will now have three choices:
* Choose the standard smart meter at no cost.
* Accept a digital meter with the radio off. This option will be subject to a one-time cost to modify the meter plus a monthly fee to read the meter.
* Keep the old analog meter, which will be subject to a monthly fee that will include both the extra cost of reading the meter and the cost of instituting duplicate systems.
Costs and fees associated with the options will be established by BC Hydro but will be reviewed by the BC Utilities Commission to ensure that BC Hydro is only recovering the cost of providing and servicing the radio-off and analog options.
Modernizing the electricity grid is a critical part of BC Hydro's plan to provide a secure and reliable power system to support the economy, new and emerging industries and communities all over the province. The replacement of obsolete mechanical meters with modern smart meters is a critical part of this transformation.
Smart meters are the end-point of the electricity grid and are part of an upgrade that will help BC Hydro improve its management of the electricity system. They also lower costs, reduce theft, encourage conservation, and can automatically detect outages. Over 20 years, the program will pay for itself and will help keep rates affordable, which is a priority for government.
* The Provincial Health Officer, Health Canada and the World Health Organization have confirmed that smart meters pose no known health risk or reason for concern.
* 96 per cent of BC Hydro customers now have a smart meter - that's 1.8 million meters.
* 60,000 meter installations have been delayed by customer request.
* BC Hydro has been working with customers who have concerns. The majority of people who originally held out are now taking a smart meter.
* BC Hydro will offer an enrolment period between September 1, 2013 and December 1, 2013 for customers who have put their smart meter installation on hold to select a standard smart meter at no cost, a radio off meter at an additional cost or keep their existing analog meter with a cost as well. The analog meter option is expected to cost more than the radio off meter because of the need for duplicate systems.
* Customers who choose to keep their existing installed analog meter will be able to keep them until the meter breaks down, their Measurement Canada seal expires or they relocate. When the account holder changes, the analog meter will be replaced with a standard smart meter or a digital meter with the radio off.
* The set-up and monthly cost-recovery fees will offset the cost of adding infrastructure to ensure the BC Hydro grid can work as planned. The fees will also recover the cost of setting up and maintaining separate metering processes and manually performing services that would be automated by smart meters.
* BC Hydro expects to complete these installations by March 1, 2014.
To find more about BC Hydro's Smart Metering Program, visit: www.bchydro.com/smartmeters
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013