FortisBC makes pitch for new metering

Green light would mean replacing over 100,000 existing meters

How often have you received a bill in the mail and wondered who’s been leaving the lights on?

How Greater Trail customers use electricity may soon be more evident if FortisBC gets the go ahead for its $40 million advanced metering infrastructure project, which would abolish meter reader positions.

FortisBC will consult with its service communities this month prior to preparing an application to be filed with the British Columbia Utilities Commission later this year.

Should the application be approved, nearly all of the existing 112,000 meters in the Southern Interior will be replaced with the advanced units in the next couple years.

“They don’t look much different then any of the digital meters we’ve been putting out for the last few years but there are a couple of additional features,” said Mark Warren, director of customer service, when he stopped in the Times’ office Wednesday.

“The real key difference to this is it has two little radios in it, one of which can transmit to a collector and send meter readings back to the utility, and the other radio can communicate with devices inside peoples’ houses.”

The advanced meter has the ability to report a reading in near real-time, rather than showing up on a bill every two months.

“Advanced meters are a really good conservation tool – when you give people better information, they see how much they’re actually consuming and then they can make their choices based on that,” said Neal Pobran, corporate communications manager. “So maybe they don’t leave a light on longer than they need to, or maybe if they’re not watching TV, they’ll turn it off. When they see their dollar usage per hour, it becomes a big choice.”

The installation cost will not have a direct impact on a customer’s bill, as the project will pay for itself through savings by eliminating 19 meter reader positions and cracking down on energy theft in relation to marijuana grow operations.

To answer any questions Greater Trail residents may have, FortisBC will be holding an open house on June 24 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Best Western Plus Columbia River Hotel.