Monday, November 15, 2010

Electricity bills up in part because smart meters more accurate: Duguid

TORONTO - If electricity bills are up for Ontario homeowners with smart meters it might be the old meter's fault - at least that's what the Liberal government was saying Monday.

The so-called smart meters, which allow people to take advantage of time-of-use pricing for electricity, are more accurate than the 40-to-50-year-old meters they replace, said Energy Minister Brad Duguid.

"I'm not suggesting that bills haven't gone up, but there are a variety of reasons for that," said Duguid, who noted this year's hot summer meant much greater use of air conditioners than last year.

"One less common (reason) is that when you put in the new meter you find out the previous meter wasn't working and billing properly, so the new meter just is bringing bills up to date and is more accurate."

The energy minister is looking for any excuse he can find to explain away soaring electricity bills, said the New Democrats.

"Every day it's a new story from the minister," said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

"The stories that I care about are the ones the people of Ontario are telling me, and that is they cannot afford the cost of hydro."

Premier Dalton McGuinty admitted Monday he hadn't heard about old hydro meters being inaccurate, but he offered a spirited defence of the government's $1-billion program to install smart meters.

"Even the United Kingdom, which is bound and determined to reduce government costs, is moving as quickly as they can to install smart meters in their homes and businesses so they can better manage their electricity system," McGuinty said at an unrelated event.

"It's something that we simply must do as we come of age as an economy that is going to responsibly manage its electricity system."

The Progressive Conservatives call smart meters tax machines and vow to give consumers the option of staying on fixed prices for electricity instead of moving to time-of-use pricing if they win next year's election.

The New Democrats accused the government of hiding the true cost of the smart meter program, noting Hydro One estimates its costs for smart meters at $1 billion - the same as the government's estimate for the whole program - and Hydro One is responsible for only one-fifth of the customers who will get the new meters.

"Something's not adding up," said Horwath.

"That's why we want the auditor general to go in and do a cost-benefit analysis because we need to know exactly what the not-so-smart meter program is costing the people of Ontario."

The smart meter program is not over budget, insisted Duguid.

"We're on budget, on time when it comes to rolling out smart meters across this province," he said.

Smart meters have been installed in over four million Ontario homes, but only about one quarter of that number have actually switched to time-of-use pricing. Early figures show they are saving money with the smart meters, added Duguid.

"The preliminary work for those that have been on (time of use pricing) for an extended period of time would show a slight decrease to date in their bills, on average," he said.

"It is a very modest impact, and on average, a small savings to the consumer."

That's not what hydro customers are telling the NDP, said Horwath, who again demanded the Liberal government remove the HST from electricity bills.

"The HST is salt in the wound to hydro costs," said Horwath. "Just take the HST off of hydro and start giving people a break."

McGuinty has already rejected the idea of removing the HST from electricity bills.


RW: Guess Duguid doesn't know about Measurements Canada, all devices have to be validated. I find it rather hard to believe that in 50 years Ontario Hydro never tested the old meters to see if they slow with age. Wanna bet there is a burried report somewhere proving they maintained their accuracy?


  1. "McGuinty has already rejected the idea of removing the HST from electricity bills."

    And that will be his undoing, he probably undone himself after the first broken promise but this very hard nosed attitute will take him out of the premiers seat next election without a doubt. It's amazing he cant see it.


  2. Actually, the mechanical meters do slow with age. Utilities are only required to verify their meters once every seven years (or could be even longer). If there is a meter that is outside of the Measurement Canada tolerance then they do get scrapped. When this happens, people's bills do go up.

    There are a number of completely valid reasons why bills are higher that have nothing to do with TOU pricing:
    1) Meter accuracy (which is what Duguid is talking about);
    2) Estimated readings (old meter was estimated, new meters don't get estimated);
    3) Increased consumption. Hot summer always leads to increased consumption

    Yes, rates have increased, yes there are taxes, and yes those can, will, and have led to increases in the average bill. But doubling of bills isn't a rate issue alone. Look at the bill and your consumption and try to understand what's going on.

  3. And, just to be clear, the old mechanical meters don't speed up over time. They work similar to clocks in that they use a series of gears to spin the dials that record your electricity consumption. Over time, with wear and tear on the gears, the meters do slow down.

    In all my time working in Hydro, I have recommended a number of people who have disputed their meter readings, saying that their meter is running fast, to dispute with Measurement Canada. In all of those cases, never have I seen Measurement Canada state that the meter was running fast.

  4. Oh Please...check your consumption, stupid metres run fast, not slow, maybe in-between...Please, people, people...we are being stolen from. The people who create the situations for which we as taxpayers pay are no better than thieves. There is too much government, too much behind the scenes we are made to pay for and of which we are not given a full picture.

    Consumption this and hot summers that: I used my air conditioner last year really no more than I did the year before. In spite of it being 'hotter'...I remember distinctly commenting on our usage of the thing frequently to my father and to my husband.

    My point is, overall, sure, we use hydro and we change our usage from time to time, year to year. But, please...the rates are too high, we are being ripped off...we are being ripped off...the government takes our money and it vanishes into a huge hole from which it never emerges to do what they tell us it was taken to do.

    So...please, stop with the meters run slow, metres run fast, metres run down the street garbage and focus on the problem: Hydro rates, government involvement in our lives and Taxes!!!!

  5. "In all of those cases, never have I seen Measurement Canada state that the meter was running fast. "

    That is not true. There have been a number of cases where MC found meters running fast and forced H1 to compensate the owner. The problem with Sart Meters is they cacluate with software. Taking the device out and reinstalling it for testing resets the software, and it appears OK when it wasn't before it was pulled.

  6. My electricity consumption (actual Kwh used) noticeably jumped after the Smart meter was installed. I had even had my furnace replaced using the new energy efficient fan motor so was expecting to see a reduction in power used!
    I complained to Horizon and they provide a 'Killawat' meter (held at local libraries!) to check my own usage. I have meticulously checked with this device and Find that my consumption is about 12 - 18% LESS than the smart meter measures! Now the only explanation I can think of is that the smart meter is based on amperage flow and ignoring the power factor which the killawat meter does measure. I await Horizon's answer on that one.
    In some States I see that consumers have the right to reinstall analogue meters ... hmm.

  7. Taxation without representation. Hey are we at 90% taxation yet? Gotta pay all those rich civil servants who work so hard for our money. Roflmao.

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