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

Armstrong’s Christyna Whieldon is $1M richer after scoring a winning Lotto 6/49 ticket from the general store. (BCLC contributed)
Armstrong mom $1M richer after candy run

Christyna Whieldon bought a winning ticket from Armstrong’s general store

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a vehicle that crashed into a Vernon home on 17th Street Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (City of Vernon photo)
Vernon woman faces drunk driving charges after crashing Mustang into house

Three reported sustaining minor injuries in Sunday incident

A heavy police presence was spotted in Lumby, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Facebook)
BREAKING: Police situation concludes in Lumby

Police called for social media blackout as the situation unfolded

(RCMP)
Six charged in 2018 Lumby drug lab bust

Bust one of province’s biggest, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, two men still loose

Multiple motor vehicle incidents stalled traffic between Kelowna and Vernon on Highway 97 after a morning snowfall Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Pam Wiebe Brunsdon - Facebook)
Highway 97 traffic stalled by collisions on slick roads

Vernon-Kelowna commute slowed due to multiple accidents after morning snowfall

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An Instagram post from Matty Rebman shows his injuries as well as a plea to the driver who struck him. (Instagram/Matty Rebman)
Hit and run kills dog, severely injures West Kelowna man

The car was abandoned but police could not locate its driver

The Penticton Indian Band is opposing any hunting of local big horn sheep which are an at-risk population. (submitted photo)
Penticton Indian Band oppose big horn sheep hunts

Local big horn sheep are an at-risk population

FILE – B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts owner, Senator David Braley speaks after the CFL announced Vancouver will host the 2014 Grey Cup championship football game during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday March 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Lions owner David Braley dead at 79

Braley had bought the CFL team prior to 1997 season

École de l’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak forces closure of Kelowna school

French-language school École de l’Anse-au-sable will remain closed until Nov. 4

NDP Leader John Horgan speaks with the owner of a barber shop while campaigning in Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Campaigning was restricted by the coronavirus pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s B.C. majority came with historically low voter turnout

Barely half of eligible voters cast ballots in snap election

Game Cave’s owner, Trevor Sparreboom, is a self-described “hardcore video game collector.” (Jesse Day - Western News)
Gamers flock to new retro video game shop in Penticton

‘It’s like candy land for gamers,’ said one loyal customer

Most Read