Info Bulletin

BC Hydro's new meters making electricity grid safer for customers

VANCOUVER — BC Hydro takes electrical safety seriously and modernizing the electricity grid with smart meters plays a crucial role in providing a secure and reliable power system for all customers.

BC Hydro has installed 1.9 million new meters over the last three years and they have made the grid safer.

Research shows decline in residential fires related to electricity

Electrical incidents are rare in British Columbia. In fact, research by the University of the Fraser Valley shows the installation of smart meters has made the electricity grid safer for customers as there has been fewer residential structure fires associated with electricity in the province since BC Hydro started installing smart meters in 2011.

The latest report by the University of the Fraser Valley concludes:

  • there has been a 11.6 per cent decline in electricity-related residential structure fires where the form of heat was electrical; and
  • a 7.8 per cent decline where electrical distribution equipment was the igniting an object.

This is because BC Hydro discovered and repaired more than 3,000 pre-existing unsafe meter socket conditions on customers' homes and businesses during installations. All of these repairs were done by certified electricians and at no cost to customer.

BC Hydro smart meters have undergone rigorous safety testing

BC Hydro's smart meters have undergone thorough quality assurance testing by both Itron, the meter manufacturer, and BC Hydro to ensure they are safe, accurate and reliable.

Itron smart meters are designed, manufactured and tested at the same facility in the United States that supplied BC Hydro with legacy digital meters for nearly a decade. This same facility also supplied BC Hydro with analog meters since the 1960's.

All of BC Hydro meters must pass stringent federal and North American standards set by:

  • Measurement Canada,
  • American National Standards Institute,
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and
  • International Electrotechnical Commission.

These standards address topics such as humidity, rain, voltage surge and accuracy to ensure meters operate properly. All BC Hydro meters, including smart meters, are thoroughly tested against these standards before they are installed in the field.

Meter Exchange Process

BC Hydro has been safely exchanging meters for 50 years. Before smart meters, BC Hydro routinely exchanged around 40,000 meters per year due to end of life.

A meter exchange involves two pieces of equipment: a meter and a meter socket. The meter is the measurement device that plugs into the meter socket. The meter socket is a fixed part of the house, owned by the customer. A meter exchange involves removing the old meter from the meter socket and replacing it with a new meter.

Just like an electrical socket, a properly functioning meter socket should be able to accommodate frequent meter exchanges. The exchange process is similar to unplugging and then plugging in an appliance.

Records from the routine exchanges shows meter socket failures occurred at around 0.05 per cent rate for old meters, as compared to 0.02 per cent for smart meter exchanges.

About BC Hydro

BC Hydro has been providing clean, reliable power to British Columbians for more than 50 years while maintaining among the lowest rates in North America. BC Hydro is a provincial Crown corporation that serves 1.9 million customers and invests in the electrical system and in energy conservation to deliver a safe and reliable supply of electricity for today's customers and for generations to come.

For more information please contact

BC Hydro Media Relations
604 928 6468
www.bchydro.com/media