SaskPower launches residential smart meter pilot

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Saskatchewan provincial power utility SaskPower (Canada) is expanding its smart meter rollout from the C&I to the residential sector.

The pilot is open to all residential customers, who are being asked to volunteer for a smart meter.

Customers in a number of communities are being selected to assist with establishing a solid concentration of meters in a geographical location to provide additional visibility into what’s happening on the power grid.

Customers participating in SaskPower’s net metering programme and all customers who have received a notice that their meter is due for replacement are encouraged to sign up.

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The more than 1,500 SaskPower employees and over 2,200 customers who had requested a smart meter over the past year also will receive a meter as part of this pilot.

“We’re looking forward to providing our customers with the many benefits of smart meters,” said Shawn Schmidt, Vice-President of Distribution and Customer Services at SaskPower.

“For those who sign up, smart meters eliminate the need for estimated meter readings, provide detailed information on how an individual is using power in their home and over time, will improve SaskPower’s response to outages.”

The expansion of the smart meter rollout follows the testing and installation of 35,000 commercial and industrial smart meters across the central Canadian province.

SaskPower is looking to validate meter deployment, communication, scheduling and procurement procedures. SaskPower is also looking to assess how concentrated groups of meters within a community communicate and ultimately how they can help to improve reliability.

SaskPower started the development of a smart meter programme over a decade ago but its initial rollout was halted in 2014 after several fires occurred, which were attributed to dust and contaminants getting inside the meters. At that time the over 100,000 smart meters that had been installed were removed.

SaskPower has subsequently placed a strong emphasis on the safety issue, developing its own safety standard said to exceed the industry norms, with independent verification of the meters by the MET Labs.

SaskPower is installing the Stratus IQ meters from Sensus. These will form the basis for the company’s smart grid.