B.C. communities see great conservation potential in smart meters

Reducing energy use is one of the best ways municipalities and businesses can reduce costs and make budget available for other uses.

Municipalities operate a wide variety of facilities, from their municipal hall to recreational facilities, through fire halls and works yards. So effective energy management can be a challenge if there's unclear information about how much energy is being used, and when.

"The problem's always been, how do you identify what apparatus is running when it's not needed?" says Len Horvath, president of Quantum Lighting, an experienced electrical contractor and member of the Power Smart Alliance. "That's the kind of information new conservation tools enabled by your smart meter will give you."

Smart meters provide consumption details

With the smart metering system in place, building operators will be able to analyze their detailed electricity usage and make operational adjustments that will reduce costs.

Horvath believes those adjustments can add up. "If an average individual office building saves a modest 5 per cent per year as a result of efficiencies found through smart meters it would save power equal to the annual consumption of 25 residential homes."

Radium Hot Springs seeks high-density, small footprint

Upgrades to B.C.'s electrical grid are welcome news to Mayor Dee Conklin of Radium Hot Springs, located in the province's southeast corner. A community with a vision of high density on a small footprint, Radium is a walkable, well-organized town focused on three-storey condo complexes.

"We've done everything to keep our carbon footprint as small as possible and we're very proud of that," Conklin says.

Being a resort community, Radium has attracted significant investment from outside of town, meaning 75 per cent of its residences are owned by people who don't live there full-time.

"This gives an opportunity for all of our residents to be just a little bit more aware," she says. "They will be pleased with the ability to manage their own household's energy use remotely through an online account." And that means being able to manage their costs.

Among other features, the online account will include:

  • Hourly consumption information in kilowatt hours (kWh) and in dollars (up to the previous day)
  • Projected energy costs based on actual consumption patterns
  • Optional automatic alerts and reminders.

It's expected that hourly consumption data will be available to customers through their online account starting in spring, 2013.

A modern power grid is the new standard

BC Hydro has installed more than 1.5 million new meters at homes and businesses across B.C. as the first step toward modernizing B.C.'s electricity system. The new standard for electricity delivery, one billion smart meters are expected to be in place worldwide by 2020.

"This investment is for our future users," Conklin adds. "To me, this is a really smart move for the province. I think they're taking a lead and I'm proud to be in the province for that."