Fortis gets approval for smart meters

FortisBC will be going ahead with smart meter installation in Greater Trail, though they still need time to review the approval.

While controversy still swirls around the issue of whether or not smart meters present a health hazard, FortisBC has received approval to proceed with its Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project.

Although the utility company says it needs time to review the approval by the B.C Utilities Commission before moving ahead with the project, in a recent media release they cite a belief that, “…advanced meters are an accurate, reliable and safe way to deliver energy.”

In addition, the company says the new meters will provide economic benefits and safety improvements for utility workers, first responders, and the general public.

“The customer can expect operational savings because we would be saving money by not requiring meter readers,”said Neal Pobran, corporate communications manager for FortisBC.

“There would also be increased savings because the loss from electricity theft would be reduced, which customers currently have to cover.

“The new meters are more difficult to tamper with which would also reduce dangerous wiring practices involved in electricity theft.”

In June, the Osoyoos Indian Band announced a decision to ban the installation of the new meters on homes and businesses on reserve land and local opposition arose when the company initially announced its application to install the meters in 2012.

“Since we began the application process last July we have heard some concerns from customers,” said Pobran.

“If we have to work with them to address some of those concerns then we could install the new meters with the radio function turned off. Right now we’re looking through the decision’s parameters about what that would look like.”

FortisBC is expected to make its decision on whether or not to proceed with the installations within the next month.

“This is a large project and will take considerable resources,” said Pobram.

“We would be performing upgrades to hardware and software in 2013, getting the new meters out to customers in 2014, and hopefully finish in   2015.”

The AMI project would only affect FortisBC electrical customers, totalling 130,000 homes and businesses stretching from Princeton in the west, through the Okanagan and West Kootenay, to Creston in the east, covering a considerable portion of the Southern Interior region of B.C.

More information on the Advanced Metering Infrastructure project can be found on the company’s website at http://www.fortisbc.com.