Smart meters: A way to save or a waste or money?
By the end of 2010 all utilities in Ontario must have smart meters installed and running, but residents who already have them aren't finding any savings.
Customers of Waterloo North, Kitchener Wilmot, Guelph and Brantford will begin paying time-of-use rates in June 2011. Stratford will begin in September and Cambridge North Dumfries in October.
Jerry Van Ooteghem, president and CEO of Kitchener Wilmot Hydro says "There are certain times of the day and times of the year when the electricity system peaks."
That puts a strain on power plants and makes electricity more costly to generate, which is why utilities want to charge more during peak hours.
So while the project is estimated to cost $1.5 billion, the hope is it will save in the long term.
But in places where the system is already up and running, people don't seem to be taking advantage of off-peak pricing, and they're paying the price.
Retiree Martin Bjarnason is a Toronto Hydro customer. He's among the 80 per cent, according to a study by the utility, who have seen their bills go up since the introduction of ‘smart' technology.
Bjarnason says he was paying around $250 before the meters were installed, but his most recent bill was close to $600. When he saw it, "I screamed" he says.
Widespread cases like this one have prompted the Ontario government to change the off-peak times.
As of May 2011, cheaper electricity will now begin to flow at 7:00 p.m. during the week, instead of 9:00 p.m.
That's just in time for resident in Southwestern Ontario.
Coming up in Part Two: Why smart meters don't seem to be saving money, or electricity, and who's expected to be hit the hardest.