B.C. Hydro Smart Meters are about to be implemented across the province and Fort St. John has played a significant role in their development.

Along with five other regions across the province, Fort St. John was a test subject for the new meters that B.C. Hydro tested to determine their energy conservation benefits.

Company officials say geographical diversity determined which cities were picked as specific test sites. They say Fort St. John was chosen because of its cold northern climate, a factor that was considered extremely important when attempting to reduce overall residential consumption. They say they were also concerned about how the new technology would operate in cold weather.

According to Bev Van Ruyven, B.C. Hydro deputy CEO and executive vice president, the test period was successful, showing an overall reduction in energy usage.

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Van Ruyven also discussed three distinct reasons why the program will be beneficial for the province. The first is the automated efficiency of each meter, which allows B.C. Hydro to monitor any power outages in an area. If an outage occurs in an area, the power authority will be notified automatically and will be able to resolve the problem much more quickly. Officials say the second benefit of the meters is energy conservation. Residents will pay more for their energy usage during the day as opposed to in the evening, which often results in residents conserving energy during the day, thus saving money over time. The third benefit involves the detection and deterrence of energy theft.

B.C. Hydro has decided to proceed with the program and will install Smart Meters in all homes across the province. The meters will be installed in various homes beginning in July and all homes across the province will have a smart meter by the end of 2012.

Van Ruyven says that the mandatory installation process is an extremely easy one. Home owners will be notified about when their installation date is. She says the procedure takes very little time and home owners do not even have to be at home when it is installed since the meters are installed outside.

Van Ruyven also says that, “the benefits will outweigh the costs”.