Waterloo North Hydro (WNH) customers may soon see an extra fee on their hydro bills, as the local distributor is looking to recoup the cost of installing so-called smart meters.
WNH has applied to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for permission to institute the new user fee.
“The (OEB) has directed local distributors to apply for the capital costs for the installation,” said Albert Singh, the utility’s chief financial officer. “The conversion of meters to smart meters was something that the province mandated and we did not get money or funding to do that.”Hydro companies across the province had to spend their own money to upgrade the technology, said Singh.
Two years ago the province told all the utility providers in Ontario that they would be charged with installing the new meters.
“Eventually, the end-use customer pays for everything,” said Singh. “The idea is that the end-use customers will benefit from the smart meters.”
The average Waterloo customer pays around $120 each month for hydro, according to Singh.
For Waterloo North Hydro customers, the average increase to cover the cost of the new meters would be $2.03 per month for 30 months starting Nov. 1, according to the WNH application.
“The OEB has said they will allow us now to apply for funding to recover what we have spent and we have submitted an application.”
Up until April, users paid another fee for the meters. In the region the fee was $1.
“The OEB did allow us to charge $1 a month to our customers from day-one when the smart meters were set up. We knew that we spent more than that and after we worked out all our costs the actual increase is $1.03 more until we have paid off what it cost us.”
The proposed fees would make up costs incurred by WNH that were not recovered. No new fees have yet been approved by the Ontario Energy Board.
WNH spent more than $10 million installing the meters at 52,000 homes and businesses in its territory of Waterloo, Woolwich and Wellesley. Approximately 9,000 meters were installed in Woolwich.
The new meters allow for time-of-use billing in which the utility charges more for power consumed at peak times of the day. The goal is to use higher prices to encourage a reduction in energy consumption.
The new meters charge users different rates depending on when the consumer uses electricity. The three different rates are peak time, mid-peak and off-peak hours.
Smart meters allow consumers to monitor their usage and manage their consumption.
The system is meant to balance overall consumption and reduce peak demand for power in Ontario.
The idea behind the smart meters is to give the consumer more control over their electricity bills.
The meters are not just designed to help consumers save on their energy consumption; they are also remotely connected to the local utility company and inform the utility when power goes out in a neighbourhood.