Nova Scotia

Shad Bay man fights for smart electricity meters

A Shad Bay man is fighting to bring so-called smart meters to Nova Scotia, which would see consumers paying for electricity based on what time of day it's used.

A Shad Bay man is fighting to bring so-called smart meters to Nova Scotia, which would see consumers paying for electricity based on what time of day it's used.

Sean Wyatt said he approached Nova Scotia Power about getting a time-of-day meter installed at his home but was refused.

"We're using minimal peak hour power so why wouldn't I get a time-of-day meter?" he said.

"When I contacted Nova Scotia Power about getting a time-of-day meter, I was told flat out, 'No.'"

A time-of-day meter involves dividing the day into different sections, with higher rates for peak power usage periods and lower rates at off-peak periods.

While many consumers in Ontario have been issued time-of-day meters, Nova Scotia Power only offers them to people who invest in in-floor heating or electric thermal storage units.

The regular rate for Nova Scotia Power customers is 13.3 cents per kilowatt hour. Under the time-of-day system, electricity use on weekends, nights and holidays costs 7.1 cents per kilowatt hour.

Wyatt is preparing to buy two electric thermal storage units, at a cost of $5,400, just so he can be eligible for the time-of-day meter.

He said Nova Scotia Power should reward consumers who use less electricity by making the time-of-day rate available to everyone.

"At a $20 saving per month — which is what I figure it would be for a time-of-day meter — every household would save enough money for an entire month of heat," said Wyatt.

"When people are making the choice right now whether they want to eat or heat their house, that's huge."

Nova Scotia Power buys the electric thermal storage units from one manufacturer and resells them to an approved list of contractors.

The company would not disclose how much it makes from the resale.

Anne-Marie Curtis, the director of retail operations at Nova Scotia Power, said the company ties the equipment purchase to the cheaper time-of-day rate to make it easier to control heating costs.

"Technically, time-of-day meters could be rolled out across Nova Scotia. But in terms of the benefit that customers would see, that might be mixed," Curtis told CBC News.

"In the case where there isn't a shift of a load, it's really relying on customer behaviour and the customer's ability to shift the load."

Nova Scotia Power said that as a pilot project later this year, it will issue time-of-day meters — without the required additional equipment — to get feedback from customers.

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