The City of Summerside is installing new smart meters on 400 homes and businesses as a pilot project to take advantage of its new wind farm.

The meters monitor when the wind is blowing, and let residents know it's time to plug in to the green energy.

The city has been planning to install smart meters since they built the wind farm last year. The meters will not only indicate when wind power is available, but can also be hooked up so that some appliances turn on automatically when it's windy.

"To give you a few examples, some of the simple things, the smart meter might well engage your water heater to come on at five o'clock in the morning and then shut off at eight o'clock. Your dishwasher might kick in at 4 o'clock in the morning and your washing machine might go at the same time," said Coun. Brent Gallant.

"These are traditionally low energy-consumption times."

The city is still working on the details, but it hopes to offer residents a rebate for using the wind energy.

Ontario working with smart meters

Most households in Ontario already have the meters. That province hopes to eventually charge customers according to the time of day they use electricity.

"People don't necessarily save money, but those who are conscientious can save money, of course," said Paul Crawford, a spokesman for the Ontario Energy Board.

"What it tends to do more is it gets people to manage their electricity a little differently and at least be a little more conscientious on how they consume electricity, and I think that's one of the main goals."

Summerside director of municipal services Greg Gaudet said Summerside is also not focused necessarily on residents saving money, but on giving consumers the choice to buy local energy.

"It's the goal of the city of Summerside to see wind energy that it has produced to be used locally," said Gaudet.

"It's not a matter of whether it be cheaper, it's a matter of how can each party do things a little differently to work together."

The city is looking for residents interested in participating in the pilot project. Home and business owners won't have to pay for the meters.

Summerside has invested $2 million in the meters, and hopes to have them up and running by the end of the year.