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UPDATED: Huge smart meter refund coming

REGINA – SaskPower has reached an agreement to recover the money blown on the smart meter fiasco.

The Crown utility announced Tuesday the manufacturer, Sensus Corp., will be refunding $24 million to provincial coffers, and also coughing up an additional $18 million credit.

If Sensus chooses not to design and test an improved smart meter in the next three years, that credit will also turn into a refund.

In July, the province ordered SaskPower to remove all 105,000 smart meters installed on Saskatchewan homes after at least nine fires were connected to the devices.

SaskPower says it’s still committed to smart grid technology, and Sensus plans to invest $5 million in developing a meter that will work in Saskatchewan.

Robert Watson, SaskPower president and CEO, defended the decision to stick with Sensus as its smart meter manufacturer, saying the company has a strong reputation.

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“We are committed to developing a smart grid that will serve the unique needs to our province and support our unprecedented economic growth,” SaskPower President and CEO Robert Watson said.

“A smart grid will bring significant benefits to our customers, including faster restoration of service following an outage, reduced carbon emissions and more timely and accurate billing.”

Critics say the government is putting too much faith into one company.

“To have your hands tied to one supplier, one provider, is a very weak position,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon.

SaskPower says its new agreement will allow another supplier’s smart meter model to function on the network developed by Sensus, which continues to be developed in order to service new SaskEnergy gas modules.

SaskPower is continuing to remove all the smart meters that have already been installed and expects to have all of the smart meters removed by the end of this year.