REGINA – Later this year, Saskatchewan residents will begin to receive a more accurate electricity and gas reading.
SaskPower and SaskEnergy have partnered together to install smart meters on homes across the province. Bills will be based on the amount of energy residents use each month, instead of an estimation.
“Right now we have to visit each and every customer location to manually read the meter,” said Lloyd Crookshanks, manager of advanced metering at SaskPower. “We’ll be able to retrieve that automatically.”
So far, crews have replaced 47,000 electric meters, mainly in Regina and surrounding areas, out of about 500,000 province wide.
The smart meters work off of a two-way wireless system.
“If the power goes out to your house for example, these meters will be able to sense that and will send us a signal,” said Crookshanks.
SaskEnergy is also installing a reader on its meters, which will work off of SaskPower’s technology.
“Once you get an automated meter system, then you get accurate reading constantly,” said Dave Burdeniuk with SaskEnergy. “There’s no estimation. You get billed for the amount of gas you use.”
SaskPower says it’s hearing concerns from a small number of customers , only 0.2 percent , mainly about the potential health impacts of the radio frequency they emit.
“They are well below federal regulations. They’re less than 1 per cent of the Health Canada regulations for radio frequency regulations,” said Crookshanks.
Health Canada says smart meters pose no risk, but one physicist at the University of Regina thinks not enough long-term studies have been done to know whether radio frequencies are harmful or not.
“It depends what is the source of the radio frequency. What is the wavelength and how close you are. The closer you are to the source the worse it becomes,” said physics professor Dr. George Lolos. “There’s no way of avoiding the fact that the body absorbs it.”
Health Canada says the radio frequency smart meters emit is similar to being exposed to AM or FM radio broadcast signals.