Fortis moves ahead with smart meters

Project will replace 130,000 electricity meters in B.C.’s Southern Interior, while natural gas meters will stay the same

Smart meters are tested at a BC Hydro lab. More than 1.7 million of the meters have been installed.

Smart meters are tested at a BC Hydro lab. More than 1.7 million of the meters have been installed.

KELOWNA, B.C. – August 1, 2013 – FortisBC has decided to move ahead with the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project, after receiving approval from the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) on July 23, 2013, after an extensive public review process.

“Advanced meters, also referred to as smart meters, will help FortisBC customers see how their electricity is being used, so they can better understand their bills and make more informed decisions on how to conserve energy,” said Tom Loski, vice-president of customer service at FortisBC. “Electricity rates will be lower with advanced meters than without them, since the new meters will reduce electricity theft and nearly eliminate the expense from manual meter reading. It’s an exciting project that will provide a variety of benefits to customers, both now and into the future.”

As part of the BCUC decision approving the AMI project, the commission directed FortisBC to submit an application providing an option for customers to receive an advanced meter with the wireless radio transmissions turned off if they pay the incremental cost of opting-out. FortisBC has agreed to file an application by the Nov. 1, 2013 deadline providing details about the radio-off option, including fees charged to customers related to the incremental costs.

The process of exchanging the approximately 130,000 electricity meters throughout B.C.’s Southern Interior will start next year and is expected to be finished by the end of 2015. The project affects only FortisBC’s electricity customers, and does not include changing gas meters anywhere in the province.

Advanced meters are similar in appearance to traditional meters, but are able to wirelessly transmit meter readings and other operational information such as power outages. They provide a number of important improvements and benefits to electricity customers:

Electricity rates will be lower with advanced meters than without them. Advanced meters will pay for themselves by nearly eliminating the expense of manual meter reading and preventing millions of dollars lost to electricity theft.

Due to new Measurement Canada guidelines, most of FortisBC’s existing electricity meters will soon require replacing. Advanced meters address this issue while providing customers with more information and reducing the cost of operating the utility.

There will be fewer bill estimates, since electricity use information is available for any date. Customers will know how much electricity they have used at any point during the billing period – they don’t have to wait for their bill to find out if their consumption is higher or lower.

Customers will have more detailed electricity use information that will help them better understand their bill and better manage their electricity use.

Advanced meters provide immediate notification of power outages, so crews can respond more effectively.

FortisBC’s AMI project has undergone a lengthy and thorough approval process through the BCUC that included community input sessions in the Okanagan and the Kootenays and an oral hearing in Kelowna.

For more information about advanced meters, customers can visit FortisBC’s AMI page at fortisbc.com/ami, or call our contact centre at 1-866-436-7874.