Ottawa

'Smart' hydro meters could cost $2.3 billion

The Ontario Energy Board estimates buying and installing so-called "smart" hydro meters in homes and small businesses could cost $2.3 billion.

The Ontario Energy Board estimates buying and installing so-called "smart" hydro meters in homes and small businesses could cost $2.3 billion.

Energy Minister Dwight Duncan admits there will be costs associated with the new meters, but, he says, over time there will be savings to consumers.

Duncan wants the meters installed so residents and businesses can save money by using electricity in off-peak hours. He says Italy saved so much money that consumers there did not have to pay for the meters. But he doesn't know if Ontario electricity users will be that lucky.

He says the government is a long way from knowing who will pay, and how much it will cost, but he insists there will be savings for consumers.

However, NDP leader Howard Hampton says smart meters by themselves don't do anything to save electricity, and he claims they were a financial disaster in California.

Instead of smart meters, Hampton advocates low-interest loans to help homeowners replace old, power-guzzling appliances with new, high-efficiency ones.