Five Penticton customers opt out of automated meters

Despite vocal protests earlier this year, only five customers have chosen to opt out of the Penticton electric utility’s automated meter reading system.

Penticton has been gradually switching over to AMR meters since 2003, having installed 16,850 of the meters by the end of 2012. AMR meters allow power usage readings to be taken remotely rather than requiring meter readers to visit each individual home or site.

“At 98.35 per cent deployment, our AMR program is now essentially complete for the electric meters,” said Eric Livolsi, operations manager for the electric utility.

The remaining 250 commercial meters will be upgraded gradually over the next few years due to the site upgrade costs associated with installing the AMR meters.

While some public information sessions earlier this year drew 100 people to air their concerns over the health effects of the meters, which use radio signals to transmit power usage data, only a few chose to take advantage of the opt-out option the city offered as a response. Those choosing to opt out are required to pay $105 for the installation of a non-AMR meter, as well as a $11 monthly fee to have it read manually.

“We currently have five customers who have committed, through a signed letter of consent, to participating in the AMR opt-out option,” said Livolsi.

By eliminating the door-to-door manual meter reading, the AMR meters significantly reduce the cost of reading meters, from $110,360 to $24,279 per year.

Though Penticton wasn’t under a deadline to complete the conversion, they are ahead of BC Hydro’s efforts in other parts of the province. BC Hydro was recently granted an extension to their deadline, pushing it to the end of 2013.

The provincial electric utility has installed about 93 per cent or 1.73 million of 1.87 million smart meters, citing customer concerns as one of the reasons for not meeting their Dec. 31 deadline.

The AMR meters being installed in Penticton differ significantly from the Smart Meters being installed by BC Hydro and FortisBC, which transmit more extensive data on a regular schedule through a communications network.


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