Canadian government supports pay-as-you-go project

A new pilot project jointly funded by the Government of Canada, ATCO Electric Ltd. and InfoEnergy Inc. will determine if utility customers who have smart meters installed to track their energy consumption will better manage their energy use. The Government of Canada is contributing approximately $150,000 to the Pay-As-You-Go Smart Metering Project.

The project, the first of its kind in western Canada, also introduces the pay-as-you-go concept to energy purchases in the region. The 500 residential customers who volunteer for the project will be able to prepay their electricity with a smart card (similar to a prepaid telephone card) and monitor their power usage in real time.

Projects such as this one can represent a significant step in helping Canada meet its climate change objectives and the One-Tonne Challenge goal of reducing individual greenhouse (GHG) emissions by 20%.

In Canada, this metering concept originated with Woodstock Hydro, which installed smart meters on a voluntary basis in selected homes. The City of Woodstock reports that these households are saving about 15% in electricity costs compared with homes using traditional metering methods, because users can more closely monitor their energy use and take individual measures to reduce it.

The goal of the Alberta project is to determine if this technology can produce the same energy savings in other communities as those found in Woodstock. Since residential electricity consumption represents a significant percentage of Canada’s GHG emissions, a wide-scale pay-as-you-go system could reduce emissions substantially.

Natural Resources Canada, through its Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE), will support the implementation of this project by providing funding and information material for participants. The OEE will also monitor the results of the project.