Wireless meter testing at a BC Hydro facility.

BC Hydro downgrades smart meter savings

Cost of power trending lower, but project still pays for itself and eliminates most electricity theft from marijuana grow ops

BC Hydro’s smart meter system will still more than pay for itself through efficiency and prevention of power theft, but the savings are not as great as were estimated when the project was launched in 2008.

BC Hydro’s final project report estimates the savings to be $1.1 billion over 20 years, down from the initial estimate of $1.6 billion. The main difference is the projected cost of new electricity, said Greg Reimer, BC Hydro’s vice president for transmission and distribution.

The initial estimate was made in 2008, based on a price of $131 per megawatt-hour for new electricity generation. The price estimate has fallen since then due to lower than expected demand as mining and other resource industries have slowed, and development of lower-cost energy production such as wind power, Reimer said.

The final report, filed with the B.C. Utilities Commission last week, confirms that the project to install 1.93 million meters with two-way wireless communication came in about $150 million under the project budget of $930 million.

[See below for final report]

Actual savings achieved through the first five years of operation amount to $235 million. The wireless system eliminates manual meter reading, identifies power outages more quickly and precisely for better deployment of repair crews, and has reduced power theft, mostly from marijuana grow operations.

The target was to eliminate 75 per cent of electricity thefts, typically from meter bypass wires, but the report concludes that it has achieved a reduction of 80 per cent. The smart grid identifies areas of unpaid power use, and ground crews locate the illegal and hazardous meter bypasses from there.

“The installation of the meters themselves as well as the detection-of-theft work that we have done has led to an increase in what I would consider to be voluntary compliance, or people not stealing,” Reimer said.

There were numerous disputes over the accuracy of wireless meters as installation went along, but Reimer said every meter that was removed for testing so far has been shown to be accurate.

The BCUC and Health Canada have rejected claims that radio waves emitted by meters are a health hazard. Experts compare the signals to a brief cellular phone call.

There are still about 12,000 BC Hydro customers who refuse the wireless signal option, and pay extra for manual meter readings. As federal licensing for the old mechanical meters expires, they are being replaced with smart meters with the radio function turned off.

Six aboriginal reserves are among the holdouts. The report doesn’t identify them, saying only that efforts to gain access to upgrade the system are continuing.

BC Hdyro Smart Meters_FNL_RPT by Tom Fletcher on Scribd

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

Just Posted

Alberni Valley Community Foundation opens grant application process for 2020

Nearly $30K available for Port Alberni-based charities

Stray cat with ‘serious burns’ recovering at Alberni SPCA

The BC SPCA’s Alberni-Clayoquot branch is asking members of the public for help with medical costs

B.C. government puts kibosh on drag racing at Alberni Valley Regional Airport

AVDRA was hopeful for a three-year temporary contract to race at the airport

Wet, white and windy winter weather hits Port Alberni

Snow expected to turn to rain on Thursday

Public invited to join Port Alberni budget discussions

Committee of the whole meeting scheduled for Jan. 20

VIDEO: Cold snap brings ideal conditions for Okanagan icewine

Take an inside look at how icewine is made

Blue Monday is a myth but seasonal affective disorder and the winter blues are real

Canadian Mental Health Association says weather can affect mood

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Ice chunk from truck crushes vehicle windshield on Vancouver Island

None injured, but Nanaimo RCMP say there can be fines for accumulations of ice and snow

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Wind and snow spark power outages across Vancouver Island

Winter storm warning in effect for east and west regions while wind warning to hit south and north

BC Ferries hybrid ships arrive in Victoria on Saturday

The battery-operated vessels will take over smaller routes

Most Read