Lakes District residents could have a B.C. Hydro employee knocking on their doors any time soon to replace their smart meters.
B.C. Hydro plans to remove approximately 88,000 smart meters across the province that are either faulty or may not meet Measurement Canada standards by 2019.
“Like any electronic equipment, we are anticipating having to replace 10,000 smart meters a year for the next four years through normal course of business: broken screens, software upgrades, exterior damage, etc,” says a B.C. Hydro press release. “The other 48,000 meters will enter Measurement Canada’s routine meter testing process to verify they are measuring accurately; once the tests are complete, they will reenter our inventory.”
According to Mora Scott, a B.C. Hydro spokesperson, customers will receive a letter before their meters are replaced. However, residents don’t need to be home while the exchange is taking place.
“All our installers are fully qualified and carry photo identification,” said Scott. “The installer has been asked to knock on the door before starting work.”
Meter exchanges usually take place Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
B.C. Hydro has installed 1.93 million smart meters since 2011 and more than 99 per cent of customers have a new meter. However, B.C. Hydro says the work to remove meters is not related to the smart metering program.
Scott said meters were already being replaced on a regular basis before the smart metering program was implemented.
“We are simply returning to that practice,” she said.
B.C. Hydro says the smart metering program was an important and necessary investment to help B.C. Hydro modernize its aging electricity system. The program was completed at the end of 2015 and new meters have a minimum life expectancy of 20 years.
“Like any electronic equipment, some of those meters may need to be replaced over time,” says B.C. Hydro. “These replacements are currently covered under warranty with our meter vendor.”
Lakes District News asked B.C. Hydro if an unusual spike in someone’s B.C. Hydro bill would indicate that their meter is faulty. Scott said the answer is “no.”
“Over the last three years, we have tested hundreds of smart meters in independent labs at the request of customers and not one has failed an accuracy test,” she said. “We are confident the meters are measuring electricity accurately.”
According to B.C. Hydro, there are many reasons why a bill could be higher than expected, including the type of heating system, the type building or facility, how the building was constructed, as well as changes in people’s behaviour such as doing more laundry or cooking more often.