Penticton cuts costs on smart meter opt-out

Pentictonites wanting to opt out of the city's smart meter program will be paying less than half what was originally proposed.

Pentictonites wanting to opt out of the city’s smart meter program for electrical and water consumption will be paying less than half what was originally proposed by city staff.

This matter was last before council at the May 7 meeting, when council adopted a policy allowing residents to opt out of having an AMR (Smart Meter) meter for either their electrical, water or both.

However, council took exception to the schedule of fees proposed by staff, which would have seen those who opted out paying $26 per meter reading, a monthly charge in the case of electrical meters.

Since smart meters are a cost-saving measure for the city’s utilities, allowing power and water consumption to be read  remotely, staff used a criteria that those choosing to opt out should bear the full cost of having their meters read manually. The $26 figure, explained director of operations Mitch Moroziuk, was a preliminary estimate for staff time and administrative costs involved with catering to an unknown, but likely small, number of people opting out.

“They (council) asked that staff go back and do some additional work with respect to the setting of fees,” said Moroziuk. “We basically did a trial run where we took all the people we know who have asked to be part of the opt-out program and we added some additional locations on a random basis.

“Then we went out and did an actual read of meters, so we could determine the actual cost of doing that.”

Using that information, a calculation was made of the costs based on 20, 15, 10 and five meters.

“We don’t know exactly how many people are going to participate,” said Moroziuk. “We also applied a percentage increase as the number of meters we read got smaller. It becomes more inefficient the fewer meters you read.”

The cost for the actual meters remains the same: $105 for electrical and $40 for water. But the new meter reading cost has been dropped to $11 per reading, with substantial savings for multiple meters being read at the same property.

With the fees set substantially less than originally, Mayor Dan Ashton said he expected council would be open to reassessing the fee structure if needed.

“We are offering a choice, and with that choice there does come a cost to those that choose,” said Ashton. “I think staff brought forward a very fair compromise to what was originally proposed.”