Why do we need smart meters?
It's estimated that over the next twenty years, Ontario will need to refurbish, rebuild, replace, or conserve 25,000 megawatts (MW) worth of generating capacity — more than 80% of Ontario's current electricity generating capacity — at an estimated cost of $70 billion. Producing more electricity is only part of the answer. Conservation and demand management will help us make the best use of our existing electricity resources and slow our growth in demand. There are tremendous opportunities to reduce the supply-demand gap through the wise use of electricity — and smart meters together with Time-of-Use prices will help encourage us all to think about how and when we use electricity.
Why is Hydro One installing smart meters?
Together with all local electricity distribution companies across Ontario, Hydro One is installing smart meters in support of the Government of Ontario’s program to build a culture of energy conservation in Ontario.
What is a smart meter and what does it look like?
A smart meter looks like the meter you have now, except the display is digital and there are no dials. However, a smart meter is much more technologically advanced compared to your current, old-style meter. It can record how much electricity you use and when you use it (typically hourly), and communicates this information automatically via wireless and other technologies. In contrast, conventional electricity meters measure the total amount of electricity consumed over an entire billing period (typically one or two months) and must be read manually.
I don't want to have a smart meter installed. Can I refuse?
No. The Electricity Act (Section 40) and Hydro One’s Conditions of Service permit us to maintain and replace our meter at your premises.
How long will the meter installation take?
The installation generally takes only a few minutes to complete.
What are the hours for installation?
The hours for installation are from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Will you be booking appointments for installation?
No, unfortunately we will not be booking appointments, as we do not normally need to enter your home or business to replace the meter. If we need to enter your home or business to install the meter, and if you are not at home, we will contact you in the future when we are back in your community. This makes the process more efficient and helps to minimize costs to all customers.
Is it possible to have an installation after hours or on weekends?
Unfortunately, no, but the installation really is a short procedure that will be done with little or no inconvenience to you.
Do I have to be there for the smart meter installation?
No, you don't have to be there for the installation to proceed and it takes only a few minutes to complete.
Will my power be interrupted during the installation of my smart meter?
Yes. The installation of your smart meter will require a very short power interruption (usually less than a minute). We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you and you will need to reset digital clocks.
How will I know if my meter's been replaced with a smart meter?
We will leave a card at your door letting you know that we have completed the installation. Also, the meter will look a little different as it has a digital display and no dials.
Will my first bill after the meter replacement look any different?
Yes, it will be a longer bill as it will display two sets of electricity usages — first for the meter that was replaced, and second for the new smart meter. This will appear on the first bill after the installation of your smart meter only; after that your bill will look the same.
Will I see a separate smart meter charge on my bill?
No. The cost of smart metering is included in the delivery line item of your bill. Smart metering costs are recovered through electricity rates in the same way as costs are recovered for other equipment that serve our customers including distribution wires, poles and transformers.
Will my electricity bill automatically go down once I have a smart meter?
No. Your smart meter is a tool that measures and records how much electricity you use at different times of the day. When teamed with Time-of-Use prices, it provides you the opportunity to better manage your electricity use (and costs), reduce strain on the electricity system, and help the environment.
How do I know that my smart meter is accurate?
We are confident our meters are both accurate and dependable. Smart meters essentially consist of two components: 1) a solid state electricity meter that the electricity industry has been using for over a decade without issue; and 2) a radio that enables the meter to communicate wirelessly. Unlike electro-mechanical meters, smart meters have no moving parts that can wear and potentially cause inaccurate readings over time. Smart meters meet the same stringent accuracy standards as our electro-mechanical meters. The manufacturers' test them for accuracy before they leave their facilities, and are further sample tested by Hydro One before they are deployed.
After being installed and put into service, smart meters are monitored closely to ensure compliance with Measurement Canada's accuracy tolerance of +/- 1.0%. Any meter that does not meet this tolerance is required to be removed from service and replaced by Hydro One.
What are the cost savings and environmental benefits of smart meters?
When we're all using a lot of electricity at the same time, we create "peak demand" periods. Supplying electricity at those times has a range of impacts. Higher demand often means higher prices because having generating plants that stand ready to meet peak demand and only operate infrequently is expensive and these plants are usually the less attractive forms of generation that are harder on the environment. By smoothing out the peaks in demand, we can reduce the amount Ontario needs to invest in additional power generating plants, transmission lines, and distribution facilities.
Since my usage data will be sent automatically, will it remain secure and confidential?
Yes, Ontario's electricity distributors are required by law to ensure that smart meters and associated communication networks are equipped with security features to prevent unauthorized access. We must also comply with federal laws regarding the privacy, protection and disclosure of personal information. In addition, the only information communicated is your meter number and your electricity usage (the same information that was displayed on the old conventional meter at your premises).
Can Hydro One access my property to change the meter?
Yes, Hydro One may enter a customer's property at any time to replace the meter. This authority is granted under the Electricity Act (section 40) and also in our Conditions of Service (section 1.7.A Hydro One's Distributor Rights - Space and Access).
Can you explain what I am seeing on the display of my new smart meter?
There are 3 types of smart meters currently being deployed (and the names of the meter are on the meter faceplate):
- If you have a Landis + Gyr Focus meter, the display alternates between the display check (which displays 88888) and the kWh consumption reading. There is approximately 5 seconds between the two displays.
- If you have an Itron Sentinel meter, the display stays on the normal kWh consumption display at all times.
- The GE i 210+ meter display will indicate kWh consumption for about 5 seconds and all eights (88888) for about 2 seconds. You might also notice that the LCD display flashes "ADI" (Automated Distribution Infrastructure).
I now have my smart meter installed but understand that I cannot manage my bill by adjusting my consumption until I am coverted to TOU pricing?
While it's true you are not being billed at TOU prices at the present time, you can start reducing your electricity consumption right now by following some or all of the examples below. A more extensive list is available here.
- Replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use 75% less power and last much longer. Also consider Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). These new lights use 2-10 watts of electricity (a tenth of the power used by incandescent lights).
- Always use the economy cycle on your dishwasher and also use the air dry setting.
- Install an energy-saving showerhead which can reduce your hot water use by up to 30%.
- Install faucet aerators on your sink faucets to lower water flow. Aerators mix air into the water flow and reduce water consumption by 25-50% per tap.
- Caulk, weather-strip, and insulate your home. Seal the leaks and cracks in your house, and you'll raise the humidity levels and have a more comfortable indoor environment. You'll be able to turn the furnace down which means a lower heating bill.
I understand that smart meters use radiofrequency communication. Is this safe?
Yes. Hydro One's smart metering system makes use of low power radiofrequency (RF) transmitters to communicate meter readings and weak RF fields in the range of 2.4 GHz are produced during the system's normal operation. These fields comply with Health Canada guidelines by a very wide margin ranging from hundreds to thousands times less than Health Canada limits.
How do smart meter RF emissions compare to other RF sources in my home?
Because of the very weak fields produced by Hydro One's smart metering system, it is likely that RF exposure of most individuals will be predominated by other RF sources in the home such as cordless phones, wireless routers, and microwave ovens.
How can I obtain more technical information on Smart Meters and RF frequencies?
Technical information on Hydro One's smart metering system, including RF levels, is available at "An Analysis of Radiofrequency Fields Associated with Operation of the Hydro One Smart Meter System".
Information on Radiofrequency (RF) energy is available from Health Canada's Radiofrequency Fields web page and their "It's Your Health - Smart Meter" publication. RF exposure guidelines are set by Health Canada's "Limits of Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Energy in the Frequency Range from 3kHz to 300GHz," commonly known as Safety Code 6. To find out more, please read Health Canada's RF Exposure Guidelines.
Industry Canada oversees the certification of radio communication apparatus such as smart meters. Part of the certification of these devices includes overseeing the compliance with RF exposure limits as well as other technical requirements.
The Ministry of Energy has additional information on smart meters, including a description of how they work and technical information.