Paul Ferguson,
President,
Newmarket-Tay Power
Distribution Ltd
 
Toronto, ON, Canada --- (METERING.COM) --- March 3, 2008 — Newmarket-Tay Power Distribution Ltd has been working closely with Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) on testing the new central meter data repository and is the first local distribution company (LDC) on the production system.

This follows the installation of almost 28,000 smart meters for all residential customers and the beginning of installation of the new meters with its small industrial and commercial customers.

“We wanted to be the first, or one of the first, because we wanted to get the job done,” said Paul Ferguson, president of Newmarket-Tay. “We embraced the whole concept of smart metering, so we felt it was best to get the new meters deployed and working as soon as possible.”

Under the Smart Meter Initiative, smart meters will be installed in every home in Ontario by 2010 and rate structures will be introduced to drive conservation and demand management. By then, Ontario will likely be the largest jurisdiction with mandatory time-of-use (TOU) rates for all residential customers managed through a centralized meter data repository.

The LDCs are responsible for their Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), which supports and integrates with the data repository. LDCs are also responsible for maintaining their customer information systems which send and receive data from the data repository and will use that data to produce TOU bills for their customers.

“We told our customers that the phasing in of time-of-use rates would begin in November 2007. We also have a 250 customer pilot program running for about a year where we process their TOU data ourselves, so we know the meters are both working properly and meeting provincial specifications.” explained Ferguson.

Newmarket-Tay is also starting to meter its pilot program customers through its AMI and feeding the meter data to the data repository which will then return billing quantities to them. “We’ll test it for a couple of months before migrating the other residential customers over. This phase-in is based on our billing cycles, so all customers will be on board by the end of 2008,” added Ferguson.

Newmarket-Tay is surprised at the level of customer acceptance of the new meters and the concept of TOU rates. “What we and Milton Hydro have found is the customers’ anticipation of the change to TOU is far greater than the change itself. Once you move customers onto TOU rates, they quickly accept them. It’s just a rate,” Ferguson said. “At the meetings, the biggest worry customers had was getting hit with a huge bill for the meter. Here, we installed all our meters as a normal part of doing business. To us, it’s an investment in infrastructure and you don’t put a rate rider on that.”

Customers were also concerned that their electricity bills were going to double. “They forget how much time is actually off-peak, it’s 55 percent. We explained that their bills might go up a few dollars, or that they could save a few by shifting their time of use. They get an appreciation for that because we include a paper summary with graphs of their usage in each bill. We also do it because we found that about 12 percent accessed their consumption pattern through the Internet,” added Ferguson.

The data repository’s purpose is to receive hourly consumption data from the 4.5 million residential smart meters through the nearly 90 LDCs’ AMI systems on a daily basis, provide validation and estimation processing, and return billing quantity data to the LDCs as required. In addition, support will be provided for end customer enquiry via web services and interactive voice response. 

News courtesy Ontario IESO.