- Are advanced meters the same as smart meters?
Yes. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) refers to the entire technology required to implement this proposed project, including software, hardware, communications system and the advanced meters.
- Does FortisBC need approval for these new advanced meters and what is the process that FortisBC must follow?
Yes. FortisBC requires approval by the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) before any advanced meters can be installed. FortisBC's AMI application with the BCUC outlines the utility’s plan for AMI, the benefits to customers, costs and the extensive public consultation FortisBC has carried out. Should the BCUC approve the AMI project, meter exchanges would begin in 2014 and be complete by the end of 2015.
- What is the cost of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure project?
The cost of the FortisBC AMI project is approximately $48 million. FortisBC expects the operational benefits from advanced meters to offset the program cost.
- What are electromagnetic fields and why are people concerned about it for advanced meters?
Please visit the World Health Organization site for a detailed description on electromagnetic fields (EMF).
Advanced meters operate around 900 MHz, which is similar to a household cordless phone and emit far less EMF than many of the common electronic devices we use every day in our homes such as microwaves or laptop computers. The emission levels from the advanced meters will be well below all regulations set by Health Canada (Safety Code 6). You can also click here to read a report on RF exposure in relation to FortisBC's proposed AMI project.
- What about privacy and the information that advanced meters collect?
Advanced meters use strong encryption to securely send your consumption data, and when it’s received by FortisBC, you can be assured the data is safe. The information being sent to FortisBC from advanced meters includes operational data such as outage information and voltage measurements, in addition to more frequent electricity consumption readings. Electricity consumption readings sent to the utility measure the total electricity used in a household or business on an hourly basis, and it does not include information regarding how someone uses electricity or which appliances are being used.
The information received will always be protected under the British Columbia Personal Information Protection Act.
- How often will customers receive readings of their electricity use? Will it be real-time?
Depending on your billing cycle, you will continue to receive a bill either monthly or bi-monthly and it will contain a summary of electricity used. You can also get information on your near-real-time usage by speaking to a customer service representative at FortisBC’s contact centre, by using an in-home display or by logging on to your secure account through FortisBC’s website once these features are available. You may also be able to choose the time of the month when you receive your bill.
- Will customers receive an in-home display monitor to view their consumption?
At this time, FortisBC is considering providing incentives for customers to purchase a display monitor for installation in their home or business. There are various options and customers who choose to purchase an in-home display can choose one that best suits their needs. If customers choose not to purchase an in-home display, they can access the same information with a web browser by logging on through FortisBC’s website.
- Has FortisBC consulted with the public and other stakeholders regarding the advanced metering project?
FortisBC began public consultation at the start of 2011 as part of our Integrated System Plan application and held open houses throughout our service area where AMI was featured. This was then followed by another series of open houses dedicated solely to AMI. Today, we continue to present to stakeholder groups and encourage our customers to provide feedback to FortisBC directly or to get involved with the regulatory process. Check back to fortisbc.com/ami for updates as the regulatory process progresses.
FortisBC consults regularly with First Nations and municipalities and other important stakeholder groups. We value the input we receive from all stakeholders and have consultations throughout the year.
- If the AMI project is approved by the BCUC, when would FortisBC start switching out meters?
FortisBC anticipates that if the BCUC approves the AMI project, meter exchanges will begin in 2014 and will take until the end of 2015 to complete.
- Is FortisBC planning to introduce time-of-use rates for all customers with advanced meters?
No. FortisBC’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure application applies only for permission to install and use Advanced Metering Infrastructure.