Three months after Toronto Hydro’s installation of smart meters, east Scarborough residents appear to be accepting the province’s gradual transition towards a new electric billing system.
“The new smart meter is great because it’s more accurate than the old one,” said Revathy Navaretnan, a resident of the Rouge area for four and a half years. “I had a problem with the old one: because of its estimated measurements I was once charged twice for my monthly bill and having to fix that was a hassle.”
Most of east Scarborough’s houses and small businesses lost their old electric meters to smart meters, which became mandatory as of last November.
Houses and small commercial areas in the West Hill, Woburn, Highland Creek and Malvern areas, except for a couple of thousand properties with locked gates, have had new meters installed, according to Toronto Hydro’s Tanya Bruckmueller-Wilson.
A smart meter records total electricity consumption per hour and sends it to a wireless device. This allows property owners to measure their electricity consumption at different times during the day. This should reduce peek periods along with demand for non-environmentally friendly forms of energy such as coal.
The smart meters go hand-in-hand with a time-of-use electricity rate system to be made mandatory in the near future. The rate system consists of three periods: off-peak (at 4 cents/kwh), mid-peak (at 7.2 cents/kwh) and on-peak (at 8.8 cents/kwh).
The pricing is subject to change every six months, but generally the lowest price applies from 10 p.m. to 7 p.m. as well as holidays and weekends. Toronto Hydro will announce when this billing system will become mandatory in east Scarborough.
It’s the province’s goal that smart meters become standard by 2010 and for Ontario to have a new electricity system by 2025.
“This has to be mandatory to increase awareness of saving electricity. Sometimes people need that push to be greener,” said Rowena Zamora, a resident of the Port Union community for 16 years. “Most people work during the day and do their laundry at night before they go to bed or during the weekend, times that are off-peak hours.”
Residents’ one suggestion for the looming electricity system: decrease the price rates.