Don’t blame smart meters for higher power bills — Hydro

There are many reasons for power bills spiking says utility

Technician switches a home from the old analog meters to the new — and controversial — smart meters in Qualicum Bay.

Technician switches a home from the old analog meters to the new — and controversial — smart meters in Qualicum Bay.

If Oceanside residents find their eyes popping when they look at their electricity bills, they shouldn’t blame their new smart meter, says BC Hydro spokesperson Ted Olynyk.

Rather, he said, people should consider the recent eight per cent rate hike and their own consumption patterns as possible reasons for the spike.

In an interview Wednesday, Olynyk said the perception that smart meters cause bills to jump is false.

“Over half the questions we have in regards to high bills come from the old analog meters,” he said. “There is not a relationship between high bills and smart meters.”

Olynyk said while there are many benefits to smart meters, they essentially do what the old analog meters do, which is measure consumption.

“They do nothing more than that,” he said. “When we get calls from customers we deal with every concern that comes in and we find there are a myriad of reasons why bills have gone up.”

One possible reason, he said, could be that a household on an equal payment plan come up to their anniversary date, when their power use is analyzed and adjustments made.

He said while some people’s bills may go up at that time, others may also go down, but Hydro never gets complaints about that.

As well, he cited a cooler than usual winter, along with Hydro being granted an eight per cent rate increase over last year.

“The bills may have gone up because of rates, because of weather or because of increased consumption,” he said. “You would be surprised at some of the calls we get. People complain about their bills after they turn the heat off upstairs, but heat rises and so until the whole place is at an ambient temperature it will use the same amount of electricity — or more — to heat the house.

“In some instances they’ve bought a hot tub and they don’t realize the impact that will have on their bill.”

The beauty of the new digital meters, he said, is that people have the option to monitor their consumption.

“If you want, you can see the pattern and why you are using so much electricity,” he said I had a friend whose heat pump was on the fritz and when those go, the electric bill goes through the roof. You can see why all of a sudden your bill is doubling or tripling and find out the source.”