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SaskPower seeks business customers for free smart meter installs

SaskPower is looking for 500 business customers who would like to have a commercial smart meter installed in 2020. File / Global News

SaskPower says it got an “overwhelming” response to its voluntary smart meter deployment.

The Crown corporation made 2,000 commercial smart meters available to residential and business customers upon request, free of cost, in an announcement on Thursday.

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Over 1,500 customers had signed up as of Friday afternoon. SaskPower said a large majority of those who signed up were residential customers.

“We understand that business owners are some of our busiest customers and that they may not have had the time to sign up yet,” read a statement from the corporation on Friday.

“To balance this phase of smart meter deployment, we want to ensure small- and medium-sized businesses still have the opportunity to volunteer. Because of this, we are reserving the remaining meters for business customers.”

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The province ordered SaskPower to remove 105,000 smart meter models from homes after reports of the devices catching fire in 2014. There were no deaths or significant property loss due to the malfunctions.

A review after the fires found rainwater and contaminants getting into the faulty residential meters — manufactured by Sensus — appeared to contribute to its failure.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan’s new net metering program still under fire

According to SaskPower’ vice-president of distribution and customer services Shawn Schmidt, the current smart meters are safe and meet their standard that goes far beyond industry requirements. He added the meters are tested in harsh conditions.

Over 8,000 of these meter types have been installed across Saskatchewan since 2017. Schmidt added this includes their own facilities and there have been no issues with the meters installed to date.

“We’re thrilled to offer our customers the chance to realize the benefits of smart meters this year,” Schmidt said in a press release on Thursday.

“As the province moves to a smart grid we’ll be able to find and fix outages faster, and customers will no longer receive estimated bills.”

SaskPower customers can sign up online for installation. Applicants who are unable to receive one will be given priority when more meters become available.

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The corporation expects nearly 30,000 smart meters to be installed by the end of 2020.

-With files from the Canadian Press

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