While the City of Grand Forks has no intentions of implementing Smart meters, council had electrical consultant Alex Love on hand at its past meeting to discuss the devices.
Members of council attended a Smart meter discussion at UBCM and have been fielding questions as to whether the city would be installing the meters.
City CAO Lynne Burch said that the city wanted to give council and the public information from an expert.
Currently, Love said that Grand Forks has what are called AMR (Advanced Meter Reading) meters and he said that, aesthetically, the AMRs look very much like Smart meters.
“AMR meters look virtually identical to a Smart meter. Both meters are modern, digital, electronic meters and because they look so similar it would be easy to mistake one for another,” said Love.
“The AMR is a meter that can be read remotely and in the Grand Forks case that means we drive by in a vehicle with (a) reader and you can pick up the meter reading from about a block away depending on terrain and buildings.
“It prevents the reader from having to go up to each individual house and it results in a substantial savings in meter reading.”
Unlike Smart meters however, AMR meters only have only one reading, which is the current reading, and it is essentially what the old meters did.
Unlike the old meters, the AMRs have a digital display and a transmitter for remote reading.
“Smart meters on the other hand have the AMR features but they also store multiple readings, e.g. hourly readings per month,” Love said.
Both Smart and AMR meters both give off Radio Frequency (RF) emissions but Love said that the emissions from an AMR are less because it transmits at lower power levels and less data.
BC Hydro and Fortis BC are or will be implementing Smart meters but the city has its own electrical utility and merely buys power from Fortis and has no plans for Smart meters.
“There would have to be some very compelling change in rates, or something like that, to make us even want to start thinking about it,” Love said.