Following a successful first run, SaskPower is launching its second pilot run of installing smart meters for commercial and industrial customers. Last fall, 500 were installed for these customers. Over the next several months 7,500 will be installed across the province.
SaskPower vice president of asset management Tim Eckel said that these types of meters are what commercial/industrial customers have been asking for.
“The benefits to our business customers include eliminating billing estimates and providing customers with more detailed information about how and when they’re using power. All of this will help them inform choices around budgeting, planning and conservation,” Eckel said.
It’s hard to mention smart meters in Saskatchewan without thinking of the residential meter fires in 2014. SaskPower is very aware of this and have subjected these meters to an extensive battery of tests.
“First we created our own specification for Saskatchewan that’s above industry standard, and we’ve been testing all the meters to those,” Eckel said. “We have a third party go and test them as well to confirm our testing and procedures. They passed that.”
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These tests involve exposing the meters to prolonged extreme hot and cold conditions, humidity, dust, and other elements that come with Saskatchewan weather.
SaskPower’s largest business partners that have opted into the program will receive the first meters in this pilot. An additional 750 small to medium sized customers will receive notification of their inclusion at a later date.
SaskPower said it is important to test the meters on different sized business customers prior to full deployment.
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At this point there are no immediate plans to start re-installing residential smart meters, but it that is the goal of the Crown corporation. They are working with vendors to develop and/or find residential smart meters that meet their elevated standard.
In addition to more accurate meter readings, Eckel said these meters can also send a signal to SaskPower in the event of a power outage, allowing for a more prompt response.
SaskPower added that there are currently 85 million smart meters installed across North America.