Maritime provinces continue push for smart meters
The push is on for so-called “smart meters” in the Maritimes, with the electric utilities in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia pushing for regulatory approval to start using them.
NB Power says smart meters will provide a cleaner, more reliable and efficient electrical grid.
"We're going to be able to provide them with far more information about their own personal consumption,” says NB Power chief financial officer Darren Murphy. “Whereas today their getting a monthly bill, tomorrow they'll be able to get detail information about what days of the week they're using most energy."
The utility has been making the case for smart meters, trying to get approval for its installation plan. The Energy and Utilities Board has spent weeks hearing arguments and testimony for and against the installation of smart meters.
As the hearings wind down, many of those intervenors are either against or expressing grave doubts about the benefits of smart meters.
"My conclusion has been that the benefits to ratepayers, as described in the documents and the evidence, just don't outweigh the costs at this time," says New Brunswick public intervenor Heather Black.
There is a similar effort elsewhere in the Maritimes, with Nova Scotia Power also trying to get smart meter approval.
"Right now, over 70 per cent of Canadians currently have smart meters in their homes so we believe the time is right for Nova Scotians to have smart meters as well," says Nova Scotia Power spokesperson Tiffany Chase.
Chris Rouse, an electrical engineer who presented his final argument Wednesday, says smart meters are an exercise is changing basic consumer behaviour.
"Right now our peak is being caused by people getting up and making their coffee and making their toast and having their shower, going to work and that's unreasonable to ask us to try and change that," Rouse says.
NB Power says there are currently no plans to charge customers more during those peak consumption times.
"Time-varying rates are often associated with the implementation of smart meters. It's not immediately in our plans over the next few years," says Rouse.
The EUB has not said when it will be making a decision on NB Power's smart meter proposal.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.