NB Power trying again to get smart meter plan approved

The CBC reports NB Power is taking a second crack at gaining permission to install smart meters with it's 300,00 customers, despite a previous denial from the Energy and Utilities Board.

The utility wants to install Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), a collection of physical and digital upgrades to the electrical grid, which would allow for pricing and service innovations that the current electrical grid cannot facilitate.

The CBC says the upgrades would include the installation of smart meters that would allow NB Power to collect individual consumption data electronically in real time from customers, as well as offering different electricity prices at different times of the day to match periods of high and low demand.

The cost for this conversion is estimated to be more than $100 million, an amount that requires Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) approval before the power company can proceed.

The utility is already planning for a positive decision from the EUB by asking for permission to spend $1.1 million in preparation for the program at this year's rate hearing.

According to the CBC, New Brunswick public intervenor Healthier Black believes this spending is presumptuous, and asked the EUB to reject the request.

NB Power's first attempt to win approval for this plan was turned down by the EUB last July, and promised to return with a stronger case for smart meters and return to the EUB within 18 months, but the CBC says they will likely have to apply by August at the latest to leave enough time for a January decision.

(With files from the CBC)