HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Hydro Begins Move To New Meters
Pubdate: Tue, 05 Jul 2011
Source: Prince George Citizen (CN BC)
Copyright: 2011 Prince George Citizen
Contact:  http://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/350
Webpages: http://mapinc.org/url/oFI7SWOM
Author: Arthur Williams

HYDRO BEGINS MOVE TO NEW METERS

A new BC Hydro smart metering program is proving a boon for Prince 
George as contractor Corix Utilities sets up shop in the city to 
switch more than 100,000 northern B.C. metering devices.

The initiative also promises to be a source of great savings for the 
province and a headache for marijuana grow operators, said B.C. Hydro 
smart meter project manager Gary Murphy.

Prince George is the new northern base of operations for the new 
smart metering program recently initiated for the entire province.

As contractors begin installing approximately 40,000 new devices in 
Prince George later this month, 23 employees, including a regional 
manager, warehouse staff and installers will be based in the city, 
said Ron Bowman, vice president of Corix Utilities, which was 
contracted to replace all conventional electricity meters across the 
province by the end of 2012.

Prince George, Richmond, Surrey and Abbotsford will be among the 
first communities to have the meters installed.

"We have [approximately] 104,000 meters to install in the North," 
Bowman said. "Our initial installation will be in Prince George, 
starting in central Prince George."

Crews will likely begin moving into smaller communities in the region 
starting in spring next year, he added.

Currently the company is undertaking training, testing and quality 
assurance, Bowman said.

Murphy said the new meters are capable of minute-to-minute, two-way 
communication using radio waves.

"If the existing meters are equivalent to an old rotary-dial phone, 
then smart meters are a Blackberry," Murphy said. "If you lose power, 
the smart meter will call B.C. Hydro and tell us you've lost power. 
When the power comes back on, it'll let us know."

The $930 million project is expected to generate a net benefit of 
$520 million over 20 years, Murphy said.

Approximately 80 per cent of that benefit will be in the form of 
greater operational efficiency - such as reduced meter reading costs, he said.

"The second area will be in energy conservation," Murphy said. 
"Through a web portal customers will have the ability to monitor 
their power usage."

The web site, which is projected to be online early next year, will 
allow B.C. Hydro customers to view their power consumption in real time.

The meters will also make it easier to detect power theft, he said. 
B.C. Hydro projects up to $732 million in power theft, primarily by 
marijuana grow operations, could be prevented by the smart meters.

"If someone tampers with the meter, to try to take it off the wall 
and bypass it, we would get a signal at B.C. Hydro," Murphy said. 
"[And] the smart meters working in conjunction with other meters 
we're installing at the same time will allow us to determine if the 
power usage isn't matching up with household use."

If the electricity flowing through the distribution lines exceeds the 
amount being recorded by the smart meters, "we'll be able to locate 
that pretty quickly," Murphy said.

B.C. Hydro customers will receive a notice in the mail when 
installers are working in their area. Installers will be wearing a 
uniform and carrying photo ID identifying them as Corix employees.

Before installing the smart meter, the installer will knock on the 
door to tell the resident or business operators what they are doing. 
The process takes approximately 10 minutes and involves a short 
disruption of power.

"The whole job is really quite simple," Murphy said.

For on B.C. Hydro's smart meter program, go online to www.bchydro.com
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart