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

Sooke’s Paul Laroche gold snipes along Sooke River, a process in which he uses a mask and snorkel to find pieces of gold. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Hitting the jackpot: Sooke man finds niche audience by gold-panning on YouTube

Paul Laroche, 29, with over 215,000 subscribers, opens up about his journey

Felix Townsin, shown here with his sister, Lexi, who died on Oct. 19, 2019. Felix is a big part of a family initiative aimed at finding a cure for Blau Syndrome. (Photo contributed by the Townsin family)
Quest to cure Blau syndrome a family affair

John Stubbs student produces film for late little sister Lexi

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Newly public Emily Carr painting depicts well-known Victoria view

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

An incident on Sooke Road is slowing traffic Wednesday evening. (Courtesy of Mona Hazeldine)
Sooke Road incident snarls evening traffic

Witnesses report two-vehicle collision

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Oct. 27

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)
Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

Cowichan Search and Rescue set up near the Silver Bridge in Duncan on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, 2020 to rescue a dog from the Cowichan River. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Search and Rescue save dog from icy Cowichan River

Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team was called in

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Most Read