Thunder Bay

Hydro One customers can blame foliage for some billing estimates

Trees can interfere with Hydro One's ability to receive data from smart meters — and that means some cottage-owning customers will receive estimates on their interim bills until an on-site reading can be made.
If you get an estimated bill for your electricity usage from Hydro One, you might blame the trees around your property. The utility says foliage can interfere with the reception of signals transmitted to its receiving equipment from a smart metre.

Trees can interfere with Hydro One's ability to receive data from smart meters — and that means some cottage-owning customers in northwestern Ontario will receive estimates on their interim bills until an on-site reading can be made.

Hydro One spokesperson Tiziana Baccega Rosa said some areas of the province are heavily dense with vegetation.

“It does affect the ability for the signal on a smart meter to transmit through either the wireless broadband network or the cellular network,” she said.

“So, similar to a cellphone where sometimes you get into a location where it actually can't receive a signal, with the smart meter, the same thing can happen due to vegetation growing back in the spring and summer.”

Until reception of the smart meter signal resumes, Hydro One will estimate bills before getting an actual on-site reading, Baccega Rosa said.

"We do send people out to do that, so you'll get a couple of estimates that are based on past usage, followed by a manual read which will give you an actual on your bill,” she said, adding “there are areas all over the province that may not allow a signal to carry.”

Baccega Rosa wasn't able to say whether the problem was anticipated when the new meters were being installed.

She said anyone with concerns about their bill should contact the utility.

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