June 13, 2014 1:33 pm

City looks to smart meters for utility readings

Installation of a smart meter on Oct. 13, 2013. A report recommends smart meters be installed for all City of Saskatoon power and water customers.

Eric Beck / Global News

SASKATOON – A report heading to Saskatoon’s planning and operations committee is recommending the development and implementation of smart meters.

Administration officials said if the recommendation is accepted, it could save the city tens of millions of dollars over a 20-year period while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A study carried out last fall looked at the feasibility and cost of installing smart meters for power and water readings.

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“Our investigation confirmed an AMI system offers many benefits to our customers and the City,” said Trevor Bell, the director of Saskatoon Light & Power.

“Customers would receive monthly bills based on the actual amount of electricity and water they use. This would eliminate reliance on estimated usage between meter readings, and help residents manage their electricity and water,” said Bell.

The system would also be able to detect unusual consumption patterns.

The total capital cost is estimated at $24.31 million and system operation costs are estimated at $22.1 million. The project would pay for itself in just over 11 years with total projected savings of $76.1 million over a 20-year period.

Some of those savings will come from the costs associated with manual meter readings. Along with reduced labour costs, there would be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent of removing over 685 cars from Saskatoon roads each year.

Revenue lost from meter failures would also be reduced.

If the recommendation is approved, customers who already have smart meters installed would have them read electronically by the end of 2015.

SaskPower and SaskEnergy are currently replacing and upgrading meters in Saskatchewan with smart meters in a joint project.

The report heads to the planning and operations committee on June 17.

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