February 7, 2018 5:00 pm
Updated: February 12, 2018 2:19 pm

Smart meter program under scrutiny during annual EUB hearing in Saint John

WATCH: NB Power is at the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board looking for a list of projects it wants approved, including rate increases and the installation of more smart meters. It's a move that the utility says will save cash. Morganne Campbell reports.

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Officials with New Brunswick Power are meeting in Saint John for a 12-day hearing with the Energy Utilities Board and the utility is armed with a list of things it wants the at-arms-length agency to approve.

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NB Power is proposing to spend more than $122 million on a smart meter program that would see the technology installed at about 350,000 homes province-wide. They’re also asking for a new surcharge to be added to bills to help the utility pay for the clean up and repairs after unexpected weather events in addition to a request for a two per cent increase in rates.

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“Electric power systems across the globe are experiencing unprecedented change compelled by a number of driving forces including advances in technology, changes in customer expectations and the effect of climate change,” said Darren Murphy, chief financial officer and vice-president of corporate services, in his opening statement at the hearing.

“These global driving forces of change have led to one of the central issues of this hearing: How must NB Power evolve to meet the future needs of New Brunswickers in a safe, reliable and cost effective way.”

The asks are under the scrutiny of New Brunswick’s Public Intervenor for the energy sector, who is participating in the hearings.

“How do we assess the value of that for NB Power’s customers in the context of the fiscal health of the utility, the challenges its had meeting its targets but on the other-side, thinking of the future,” explained Heather Black, the public intervenor.

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NB Power says the smart meter system is key to lowering costs and will avoid the construction of new power plants.

In addition the utility is seeking the implementation of a surcharge that would help NB Power pay for the clean up following unexpected weather events.

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