FortisBC has decided to move ahead with the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project, after receiving approval from the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) on July 23.
As part of the BCUC decision approving the AMI project, the commission directed FortisBC to submit an application providing an option for customers to receive an advanced meter with the wireless radio transmissions turned off if they pay the incremental cost of opting-out.
FortisBC has agreed to file an application by the Nov. 1, 2013 deadline providing details about the radio-off option, including fees charged to customers related to the incremental costs.
The process of exchanging the approximately 130,000 electricity meters throughout B.C.’s Southern Interior will start next year and is expected to be finished by the end of 2015.
The project affects only FortisBC’s electricity customers, and does not include changing gas meters anywhere in the province.
Advanced meters are similar in appearance to traditional meters, but are able to wirelessly transmit meter readings and other operational information such as power outages.
There will be fewer bill estimates, since electricity use information is available for any date. Customers will know how much electricity they have used at any point during the billing period.
Customers will have more detailed electricity use information that will help them better understand their bill and manage electricity use.
For more information about advanced meters, customers can visit FortisBC’s AMI page at fortisbc.com/ami, or call our contact centre at 1-866-436-7874.
What AMI means for FortisBC electricity customers
• Electricity rates will be lower with advanced meters than without them
• New meters will pay for themselves by nearly eliminating the expense of manual meter reading and preventing millions of dollars lost to electricity theft. Savings from advanced meters will pay for the $51-million cost of the project, and customers can expect a minimum of $13 million in additional savings over the life of the meters.
• According to Measurement Canada guidelines, most of FortisBC’s existing electricity meters are nearing the end of their lifespan and require replacing. Advanced meters solve this problem while providing customers with better service and reducing the cost of operating the utility.
• Advanced meters provide more informative billing
• There will be fewer bill estimates, since readings are available for any date. Customers will have tools that will help them to better understand their bill and better manage their electricity use. They will know how much electricity they have used at any point during the billing period – they don’t have to wait for their bill to find out if their consumption is higher or lower.
• Advanced meters provide additional customer benefits
• When the power goes out at a home or business, advanced meters will notify FortisBC, allowing crews to respond more effectively.
• Advanced meters reduce the environmental footprint of FortisBC’s operation. Nearly eliminating manual meter readings will mean a major reduction in the 500,000 kilometers meter readers drive each year.
• FortisBC’s AMI project involves replacing about 130,000 electricity meters with new advanced meters across the FortisBC electricity service territory in B.C.’s Southern Interior.
• In order for these meters to communicate with FortisBC, a software infrastructure will be installed along with a communications network. During 2013, FortisBC plans to focus on building and testing the software components of the AMI project, which will continue into 2014. In late 2013, installation of the communications network is to begin. Advanced meters will be installed in 2014 and 2015.
• Advanced meters are comparable to traditional meters in size and shape.
• The main difference is their ability to communicate with FortisBC and provide near real-time electricity use information to customers.
• The information collected from advanced meters is similar to the information collected today by meter readers. However, advanced metering allows for more frequent updates of this information. The meters can also report in near real-time how much electricity a household is using, meaning customers can get a better sense of their electricity use.
• The actual switching of meters for FortisBC electricity customers will involve a brief service outage to allow FortisBC crews to safely remove the old meter and replace it with the new advanced meter.
• Advanced meters will keep customer information secure and private. The AMI project uses strong encryption to protect data – similar to encryption used by financial institutions in online banking transactions.
• Like all customer information, this information is protected under the British Columbia Personal Information Protection Act. Customer/personal information, such as account balance, name and address, is not transmitted.
Source: Fortis BC