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Storm season and smart meters: what you need to know

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It's getting wilder and windier outside — fall weather is showing up across B.C. and we know that means the probability of power outages. Here at BC Hydro, we're getting ready for what's expected to be a fairly wet, cold winter.

But we need your help.

Outage notification: we still need your phone calls, for now

You may be wondering what storm season means for you if you already have a smart meter. The short answer: it's business as usual right now and we still need customers to call about outages.

Although many customers across B.C. have new meters installed, the installation of the telecommunications infrastructure and supporting IT system is still underway. That means if you have a smart meter, we're not able to receive automatic outage signals from it yet.

When will new meters be used for outage detection?

Installing meters is the first step toward a modern grid. When the entire system is in place, BC Hydro will conduct thorough testing to ensure it is functioning properly for all customers.

By this time next year, we expect that our customers will be benefiting from automatic outage detection and faster restoration times.

The future: fewer calls, faster restoration

Once the smart metering system is enabled, we'll know which homes and businesses have an outage, thanks to the automatic signals received from the new meters when the power goes out.

This will speed up the outage response, reduce the time spent by crews searching for the cause and reduce restoration times.

The way the system works today, we may restore a downed power line and leave the area, only to find out that some surrounding communities are still without power — a nested power outage down the lines.

With the new meters, once the power is restored, we will receive a message that they are back on. Our crews now won't leave the area until all the meters report back and the power has been fully restored.

We'll still ask you to call us occasionally — if you see something unusual like a fallen tree on a power line or a motor vehicle that hit a power pole, for example. That additional information will only improve our crew's ability to identify the problem and get power on faster.

How to be prepared for an outage

When outages occur, our crews work hard to restore your power as quickly and safely as possible. But it's a good idea to ensure you're ready in case of a power outage:

  • Develop a preparedness plan and share it with your family.
  • Make a list of local emergency contact numbers.
  • Purchase or prepare an emergency kit and store it in an easy-to-find location.

More tips on preparing for an outage

Power out? Know where to find information

If your power does go out, find the latest outage information and estimated restoration times:

Remember, safety in a power outage comes first. Never go near or touch a fallen power line. If you see a fallen power line, report the exact location to 1 888 POWERON.