Smart meters Canada: Hydro-Québec faces heat despite low opt-out rate


Hydro Quebec smart meter opt outIn French Canada, energy company Hydro-Québec said only 1% of its customer base has opted out of its smart metering programme.

This comes as the discounted rate for reinstallation of analogue meters expired on Monday.

Customers who instruct Hydro-Québec to replace their smart meter with a traditional unit will now pay CAD85 (US$71) instead of CAD15 (US$12), according to national media.

They will then pay a further CAD5 (US$4) per month for a manual meter reading.

The deadline for a discount applied to those who received a letter from Hydro-Québec or have a smart meter already installed.

Resistance to smart meters

Hydro-Québec, however, is facing push back from consumers in parts of the Canadian province to its plan to install 3.8 million meters by 2018.

In the town of Magog, the mayor is advising residents to opt out of the smart meter program.

Vicki May Hamm is reportedly seeking legal advice to try to ban smart meters in the town due to health concerns.

Ms Hamn said another technology, such as fibre optics, could be a better fit and is hoping to launch a pilot project in the municipality to test that theory in 2015.

Hydro-Québec has hit back saying their smart meters emit a small percentage of the radio frequency produced by a common household microwave.​

Consumer concern

Late last year, the company also fought a public relations battle following accusations from a consumer group that two-way metering technology was resulting in more customers being disconnected.

In November 2014, consumer protection group Union des Consommateurs expressed concern about the number of disconnections this year and points to smart meters making it easier for the utility to cut electricity.

The consumer group estimates that between January 1 to September 30, 2014, Hydro-Québec cut power to 51,015 homes and businesses, with about 37,000 clients being cut off.