Smart meters can create savings

Centre Well­ing­ton Hydro has nearly complet­ed deployment of over 6,000 smart meters to its cus­tomers.

Installation of the new met­ers began in late May. The Ontario government has set a goal of having a smart meter in every home and business across the province by 2010.

Those meters record not only the amount of electricity con­sumed, but also when it is used. That will enable a Time of Use pricing structure. Unlike the current system, in which customers pay a fixed rate, the Time of Use pricing has three different rates for electricity consumed during off-peak, mid-peak, or on-peak periods of the day. Weekends and holidays are always off-peak.

Centre Wellington Hydro General Manager Doug Sher­wood said the utility plans to phase in Time of Use pricing in early 2011. Cus­to­mers will be notified well in advance.

Time of Use pricing more accurately reflects the actual real-time market cost of elec­tricity, which fluctuates widely throughout the day. Electricity demand peaks in the mid to late afternoon, triggering a corres­ponding increase in the market price.

During the hot summer months, air conditioner use pushes electricity demand to its highest levels of the year. Ontario must often rely on more expensive and polluting forms of power generation to meet daily peaks. On the hot­test days, electricity must be pur­chased at a premium from power plants that, in some cases, operate only a handful of days a year.

Sherwood said a key ob­jec­tive of the smart metering initiative is to reduce peak de­mand by encouraging consum­ers to rethink their con­sump­tion habits.

Smart meters and Time of Use pricing will also enable customers to take steps to man­age their electricity costs. In the near future, customers will be able to monitor their consump­tion online or through in-home displays. For a list of cost re­duc­tion strategies visit www.­