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Government announces opt out options for smart meters

Ed note: The following is a press release issued byt the BC government:

Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines, announced today that BC Hydro will offer new options for customers who have put their smart meters on hold.

Government is responding to public concerns by providing opt-out options with the costs borne by those customers and not subsidized by the majority, who have a standard BC Hydro smart meter. BC Hydro customers who do not currently have a smart meter will now have three choices:

* Choose the standard smart meter at no cost;

* Accept a digital meter with the radio off. This option will be subject to a one-time cost to modify the meter plus a monthly fee to read the meter;

* Keep the old analog meter, which will be subject to a monthly fee that will include both the extra cost of reading the meter and the cost of instituting duplicate systems.

"This decision finds an appropriate balance between addressing the concerns raised by people who have put their meter installation on hold, while ensuring that the majority of customers who have a standard smart meter will not be paying for those who select an opt out option,” Bennett said.

Costs and fees associated with the options will be established by BC Hydro but will be reviewed by the BC Utilities Commission to ensure that BC Hydro is only recovering the cost of providing and servicing the radio-off and analog options.

Modernizing the electricity grid is a critical part of BC Hydro's plan to provide a secure and reliable power system to support the economy, new and emerging industries and communities all over the province. The replacement of obsolete mechanical meters with modern smart meters is a critical part of this transformation.

Smart meters are the end-point of the electricity grid and are part of an upgrade that will help BC Hydro improve its management of the electricity system. They also lower costs, reduce theft, encourage conservation, and can automatically detect outages. Over 20 years, the program will pay for itself and will help keep rates affordable, which is a priority for government.