BC Hydro estimates that it will have to replace 40,000 of its smart meters by 2019 due to damage over time and will also pull an additional 48,000 meters for testing.

NDP critic for BC Hydro Adrian Dix said that raises "serious questions" about the lifespan of the smart meters, two million of which have already been installed.

"What it's saying is that many of those smart meters, a couple of years into operation, are failing," Dix told CBC News.

Being paid off over 20 years

Dix said that also makes BC Hydro's amortization period — the time in which they pay off the smart meters — problematic.

BC Hydro has set the amortization period at 20 years, the same length of time as the minimum life expectancy for the smart meters.

Dix said that, if for example a smart meter fails after just two years, then "not only are we paying for the one we've replaced, but we're paying out over the next 18 years for the smart meter that failed."

He said that while homes are amortized over 25 years, one wouldn't amortize, or pay off, one's cellphone over 20 years, "and the smart meter has more in common with your cell phone that it does with your home."

"If you pay for them over the next 20 years even though you've spent all the money now, it doesn't have an impact on rates, or lessen the short-term political impact on rates," Dix said.

"The [B.C.] Liberal government has abused this to an outrageous degree at BC Hydro."

'Routine operations': BC Hydro

Steve Vanagas, chief communications officer at BC Hydro, said that the estimated 10,000 smart meters that the corporation anticipates having to replace each year for the next four years are "not faulty meters in any way, shape, or form."

"They are routine operations where we have to replace meters that are damaged as a matter of course. There might be construction going on, a house gets torn down, we have to take the meter off, a screen gets damaged, a cover gets damaged, and in those cases we simply have to replace the meter," he said.

"Equipment is going to be damaged along the way through circumstances beyond our control, and it's our responsibility to make sure that equipment is maintained."

Vanagas said they are also removing meters temporarily so that they can be tested for accuracy by Measurement Canada, a federal agency that evaluates, approves and certifies measuring devices.

"We pull the meters randomly, have them tested in an independent lab, and once they pass the test they go back into our inventory," he said.

Vanagas said that maintenance and testing were routine for the older analog meters as well.

When asked how much this would cost, Vanagas replied:

"That's part of routine maintenance, so the cost if fairly minimal, and it's been included as part of our overall business case," he said.

To hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: Adrian Dix slams BC Hydro's estimates that it will have to replace 40,000 smart meters by 2019

With files from Gavin Fisher