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

Saanich police issued a 90-day driving ban and a 30-day vehicle impound after an impaired driver was caught at the scene of a collision involving a parked car early on Oct. 27. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Driver fails roadside screening after early morning crash in Saanich

Both cars significantly damaged after driver hits parked car around 5 a.m.

Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)
Retired Victoria woman looking to cook, clean or garden in exchange for rent

Sylvia Bailey is hoping to use her love for cooking to help afford rent

Victoria police are searching for a suspect after a stabbing Monday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police searching for suspect in late-night stabbing

Victim taken to hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan Bui (left) and Kairry Nguyen at the end of the trial that found Tanessa Nikirk guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Nikirk is back in court for her sentencing hearing. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATED: Court hears letter from driver convicted of hitting Saanich girl

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit in 2017

The drive-through COVID-19 testing facility at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
Island Health opens COVID-19 testing site at UVic

As with all other sites, an appointment is needed to receive a test

Carolyn and Steve Touhey came across a pod of humpback whales while on their boat Sunday, Oct. 25. Photo supplied
VIDEO: Boaters encounter pod of humpbacks in Georgia Strait

Pod spotted between Comox and Texada Island

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

The voting station mimicked a real voting station in Nicole Choi’s classroom at Chilliwack middle school on Oct. 22, 2020, where students had to show their ID (student cards), be checked off a list, and mark a secret ballot behind a screen. (Jessica Peters/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. students choose NDP majority in mock election

More than 90,000 youth took part in school-based election process

Crew transport bus at the Trans Mountain pipeline project work site in Burnaby, March 2020. (Trans Mountain)
Check your workplace COVID-19 safety plans, Dr. Henry urges

Masks in public spaces, distance in lunchrooms for winter

B.C.’s Court of Appeal is in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Judgment reserved in Surrey Six slayings appeals

Six men were killed in suite 1505 of the Balmoral Tower in Whalley on Oct. 19, 2007

Kelowna City Hall has been vandalized overnight. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna City Hall hit by anti-pandemic vandalism

Graffiti condemning the virus appears overnight on City Hall

FILE – A woman smokes a marijuana joint at a “Wake and Bake” legalized marijuana event in Toronto on October 17, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Home nurse visits could play big role in reducing cannabis use, smoking in young mothers

The program, dubbed the BC Healthy Connections Project, involves public health nursing home visits

Candice Woloshyn prepares her flower beds for the next season at her ‘Dirty Girl Flowers’ farm in Merville. Despite the pandemic, Woloshyn was able to sustain her homegrown business as community members opted for regular deliveries of fresh cut flowers. Photo by Binny Paul/ Campbell River Mirror.
Vancouver Island flower farmers were blooming as the pandemic wilted everything else

Floriculturists saw increased subscriptions as fresh flowers became a ‘sight for sore eyes’ during isolation

Most Read