Top 10 Q’s on Smart Meters

1.Why do we need smart meters? The Smart Metering Program will make our electricity system safer, more reliable, it will improve customer service, reduce electricity theft, and it will create the foundation for a modernized electricity grid that can accommodate new technologies. It’s also important to note that existing electro-mechanical meters are nearly obsolete and will not be manufactured much longer. 


  • Jan. 25, 2011 8:00 a.m.

1.Why do we need smart meters? The Smart Metering Program will make our electricity system safer, more reliable, it will improve customer service, reduce electricity theft, and it will create the foundation for a modernized electricity grid that can accommodate new technologies. It’s also important to note that existing electro-mechanical meters are nearly obsolete and will not be manufactured much longer. 


2. Will my rates go up because of smart meters? No, the project will pay for itself and in fact delivers over $500 million in net benefits over 20 years. These benefits mean lower rates for customers, reducing them below what they would otherwise be in the absence of BC Hydro’s investment in the program.

3. Are you introducing time of use rates? BC Hydro will maintain the existing rate structure throughout the meter installation period. The business case for the smart metering program includes only voluntary time-of-use rates in the estimate of the program’s benefits. BC Hydro is in the early stages of considering rate structures that will offer incentives for customers to use less electricity. Any proposal for new voluntary rate structures will have to be reviewed and approved by the independent BC Utilities Commission.

4.Will customers have to save energy for the Smart Metering Program to work? No, more than 80 per cent of the benefits from the program will be delivered through operational efficiencies within BC Hydro such as theft reduction and meter reading optimization. That means customers don’t have to take action for the program to pay for itself.

5. How long will it take to install a smart meter at my house? Installation takes only a few minutes and most customers will not need to be home when the exchange occurs.

6. When will I get my smart meter? Installation will begin this summer and customers will receive advance notification that BC Hydro will be exchanging their existing meter with a smart meter.

7.Doesn’t BC Hydro already know when the power is off? No, BC Hydro is not aware of power outages for residential customers and small businesses until customers call to inform us that their power is out. Smart meters will pinpoint problems quickly and automatically which will help get the power back on faster and safer.

8.Will BC Hydro be able to tell when I’m home and what I’m doing? No, BC Hydro will only be getting aggregated hourly data which informs us how much electricity was used. More specific information about household use is limited to the “home area network” used by customers who choose in-home display devices. All of this data is protected by extensive security and privacy provisions in the infrastructure including the use of data encryption similar to that used by online banking systems.

9. Is the radio frequency emitted by smart meters safe? Yes, smart meters emit less radio frequency than a baby monitor.

10.What have you learned from the experiences of other jurisdictions? We have benefited by learning from the implementation experience of other utilities. Examples include using proven meter technology, maintaining existing rate structures through the installation period and dedicating more resources to ensuring customers are informed throughout the process.

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