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The New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board in Canada has approved NB Power’s CA$110 million (US$84 million) smart meter project.

The state regulator found in its 38-page decision that the application presented a positive business case and “is satisfied that the project is prudent and that it is in the public interest”. An earlier application submitted in 2017 was denied on the basis of the business case presented.

NB Power proposes in the project to replace approximately 360,000 residential and commercial meters with smart meters.

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Other new advanced metering infrastructure includes data collectors, a wide-area network, system software and a meter data management system.

The project would begin in the 2020/21 fiscal year, with deployment over a three-year period. The project also includes modifying business processes to integrate AMI technology with NB Power’s customer information system, geographic information system and outage management system.

Approximately 28% of NB Power’s current installed fleet of residential and commercial meters are analogue meters, with the balance automated meter reading (AMR) meters.

NB Power’s business case anticipates an NPV of CA$28 million (in 2019/20 dollars), based on a 15-year economic life for the meters. The CA$109.6 million cost is comprised of CA$78.6 million in capital costs and CA$31 million in operations and maintenance.

The main benefit envisaged would result from the reduction in meter reading costs. Other top benefits include avoided meter replacements, the implementation of AMI-enabled conservation voltage reduction, the implementation of a high bill alert service and reduced distribution network losses.

Further possible benefits that weren’t quantified are a reduction in outage frequency and duration and a reduction in carbon emissions.

State-owned NB Power is the main electricity utility in New Brunswick, Canada. The company found in a 2019 survey of 150,000 customers that most had a neutral to positive view of the proposed smart meter deployment. Cost was a source of concern, as was cybersecurity and privacy of personal information. The most important benefit cited was having power restoration efforts begin faster.