The decision to charge cost-recovery fees for customers who don’t want smart meters ensures the rest of B.C. Hydro’s customers aren’t subsidizing the personal choices of a very small number of people.
This is a fair and reasonable solution to accommodate customers who want to retain using a system that is increasingly obsolete and costly to support.
The additional fees include more than just reading the meter. They also include the cost of adding and maintaining resources, equipment and systems that have been automated by new, modern meters.
For example, to work around customers without new meters, B.C. Hydro must
install additional telecommunications equipment to ensure the electricity grid can work as planned. We also need to retain extra vehicles, equipment and people to read the meter and manually input the data back into the billing system.
B.C. Hydro’s proposed fees will be reviewed by B.C. Utilities Commission to ensure they are appropriate and we are only recovering additional costs.
When the B.C. Utilities Commission approved Fortis BC’s advanced metering project earlier this summer, the commission directed Fortis to charge a fee to customers who don’t want a new meter to pay the incremental cost of opting out.
Cost recovery fees to opt-out of smart metering programs are not new in North America and can vary in range. For example, Portland’s utility charges $51 per month plus a set-up fee of $254 while Hydro Quebec has a monthly fee of $17 and an initial fee of $98.
Today, customers with new meters are seeing the benefits of a more modern system. For instance, most customers can now see more timely information about their electricity use through their secure MyHydro online account.
This new feature allows customers to track their hourly electricity use, compare use to homes of a similar size and view their bill to date.
We will continue to work with our customers to answer questions about new meters and to ensure they have all the facts about the updated system.
Executive vice-president of transmission and distribution