All Cowichan Lake area BC Hydro users can expect to see their meters switched out for the company’s new Smart Meters by the end of the next year, chief project officer for BC Hydro Smart Meters Gary Murphy said.
“We’re going to replace all of our meters,” he said, of the province-wide initiative. “We can’t have multiple types of meters.”
What makes these new meters different is that they are digital, capturing and recording the amount of power that is used, and pinpointing when it is used.
They use radio transmissions to transfer this information on to BC Hydro.
With a radio frequency BC Hydro is comparing to less than that of a baby monitor, the new Smart Meters will produce a frequency four to six times a day for about 10 seconds each time.
Although the meters are set to cost BC Hydro $930 million, the company claims that the program will pay for itself in approximately eight years.
This will be done, Murphy said, through a few benefits:
• BC Hydro will more easily be able to read clients’ electricity usage.
• Outages can be responded to more quickly.
• There will be increased energy conservation, as clients will be able to see how much energy they’re using, and when.
In a press release, the company states that 80 per cent of the benefits from the program will be delivered through operational efficiencies within the company itself.
BC Hydro has yet to come up with the design of a more detailed billing system, Murphy said, but more detailed information will be posted online, which clients will be able to log on to. The previous day’s usage, and when the time frame with which electricity was used, will be available on the website for clients to log onto.
Another option will be an in-home wall unit, similar to a thermostat, which will enable clients to see exactly how much electricity they are using in real-time.
Whereas all other Smart Meter components come free of charge, this optional wall unit will come at an additional cost.
Murphy said that there will be a rebate program for people who can not afford one.
The province-wide switch-over toward Smart Meters will begin this summer.
Murphy said that residents will be given advance warning of the installation, though installation only takes a few minutes, and customers do not need to be home when the exchange occurs.