Smart-meter rollout in BC, Canada delayed by a year

A smart-meter program in the Canadian province of British Columbia has received a year-long extension, with the delay blamed on shortages of qualified labor, equipment and specialized meters, as well as customer concerns.

Having failed to hit a target of installing 1.87 million smart meters by December 31 2012, utility company BC Hydro (Vancouver, Canada) has been given until December 31 2013 to finish its rollout by regional authorities.

A smart-meter program in the Canadian province of British Columbia has received a year-long extension, with the delay blamed on shortages of qualified labor, equipment and specialized meters, as well as customer concerns.

Having failed to hit a target of installing 1.87 million smart meters by December 31 2012, utility company BC Hydro (Vancouver, Canada) has been given until December 31 2013 to finish its rollout by regional authorities.

This is despite the fact that only 140,000 meters still need to be installed, with BC Hydro insisting that various factors have thwarted its efforts to complete the task.

The original deadline was set by the Liberal government’s Clean Energy Act of 2010.

According to press reports, opposition from residents citing privacy concerns, or worried that smart meters pose a health risk, is chiefly to blame for the delay.

In its statement on the extension, British Columbia’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas says “the additional time will enable BC Hydro to complete the work and address as many customer concerns as possible before finalizing smart meter installations”.

The delay could drive up the C$1 billion ($1 billion) cost of the project, but authorities insist that smart meters will ultimately pay for themselves by delivering C$1.6 billion in benefits over a period of 20 years.

“These are savings that BC Hydro will not have to collect from customers,” said the Ministry in its statement.

It also cites research suggesting that new tools available through smart meters will enable customers to save up to 15% in energy costs.

Attempting to allay customer concerns, authorities claim smart meters will bring additional benefits, including in-home devices that provide homeowners with up-to-date information about their power use.

“Once smart meters are fully installed and operational, they will also let BC Hydro know of any outage immediately, so power can be restored faster,” said the Ministry.