Smart meter opponents point at Ontario ‘failure’

Opponents of smart meter technology in British Columbia are getting some vindication.

Opponents of smart meter technology in British Columbia  are getting some vindication as reports out of Ontario indicate that their smart meter program was a failure.

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk wrapped up 2014 with a report condemning the province’s wireless smart meter program for a $1 billion cost overrun and failure to reach the program’s goal of reducing power consumption.

Unlike BC Hydro’s wireless meter program, Ontario used the smart grid’s real-time consumption data to offer discounts for off-peak power consumption, hoping to ease the load on its outdated power grid while giving customers some relief from soaring rates. But few embraced the incentive to run their clothes dryers late at night to save money.

The Ontario government “did not complete any cost-benefit analysis or business case prior to making the decision to mandate the installation of smart meters,” the auditor wrote. “This is in contrast to other jurisdictions, including British Columbia, Germany, Britain and Australia, all of which assessed the cost-effectiveness and feasibility of their smart metering programs.”

Lysyk’s report also noted BC Hydro developed its business case in 2006, updated it in 2010 as meter technology evolved, and implemented it in 2011 with a plan to recover costs over 20 years. BC Hydro’s savings come mainly from reduced electricity theft, faster location of power outages and more accurate load management.

B.C. also responded to the anti-smart meter holdouts with an optional fee to cover manual meter readings for those who insisted the cellphone-like data transmissions are a threat to their health.

BC Hydro is still experiencing opposition to the new meters, with many homeowners opting not to have them installed despite the resulting fee.

During the installation process, Golden stood out as one of the stronger opposing communities, according to representatives from the Citizens of Safe Technology. The group made presentations in town, urging people to stand up against the installation, and remarked at how much support they were seeing in the community.

*With files from Black Press