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Smart meters spark B.C.'s growing green economy

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Smart meters enable the two-way flow of electricity

The worldwide economy may be riding something of a roller coaster, but according to the Vancouver-based GLOBE Foundation, companies that can provide clean technologies and solutions will prosper.

In their report Securing the Workplace of Tomorrow [PDF, 3.5 MB], the not-for-profit business foundation claims that "the green elements of B.C.'s economy are growing faster than the province's economy as a whole and are expected to continue to do so over the next decade."

They also found that the green sectors of B.C.'s economy could represent up to 14 percent of the province's total gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020, creating nearly 85,000 jobs.

John Wiebe, the foundation's CEO, believes that the introduction of smart meters in B.C. will contribute directly to the growth of our green economy in B.C.

"Our research has shown that the deployment of innovative clean technologies such as smart meters not only creates jobs, it also allows consumers to make choices about their use of energy," says Wiebe. "Today's enlightened consumers want to make a difference, and this type of technology allows them to do so."

Creating new economic opportunities

Electricity is the backbone of B.C.'s economy and smart meters are an important step in modernizing the grid and supporting continued economic growth. The Smart Metering Program alone has already created hundreds of jobs, contributing directly to B.C.'s economy.

With the new metering system in place there will be two million pieces of technology on the grid that need to be managed, creating new technology-based jobs that do not exist today.

Innovative technology companies in the province are poised to build on the smart metering infrastructure, delivering home energy management systems and software applications.

Skills that support the environment and contribute to a sustainable future are quickly becoming more important across the workforce and within every industry. Traditional sectors of the economy are integrating sustainable practices into their operations, which in turn increases the need for employees who offer creative solutions to the shifting challenges of our global economy.

The future of clean and green

Smart meters enable the two-way flow of electricity by measuring how much energy a home used or generated in total.

This will enable customers and communities to sell excess electricity back to the grid, providing resilience and a sense of community ownership over energy. And that's essential to the widespread adoption of local, small-scale renewable energy sources, such as biomass, geothermal, solar and wind.

Justin Lacey, Director of Marketing at Day4Energy, says that the viability of solar power as an energy source is upon us.

"We are at an inflection point for solar energy," says Lacey. "In many parts of the world, the cost of electricity from solar is very competitive with that produced with traditional fossil fuels. More and more consumers are beginning to choose solar because it makes sense financially, as well as environmentally."

Day4 specializes in providing solar photovoltaic technologies that improve the performance of solar cells and modules.

"A much better awareness of energy, and how daily decisions affect the amount we consume, are critical steps we must take on the path to a more sustainable future" says Lacey. "Smart meters help consumers on both counts."

Lasting benefits

Smart meters will speed up the response to outages, improve customer service and help keep BC Hydro rates among the lowest in North America.

Smart meter installations have already begun in select communities and will be completed across the province by the end of 2012.

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