Next-Generation Meters - Hydro-Québec files application to amend opting-out terms with Régie de l'énergie

MONTREAL, May 16, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Today Hydro-Québec is filing an application with the Régie de l'énergie [Québec energy board] to lower the charges associated with opting not to have a next-generation meter installed. In accordance with the regulatory procedure, the Régie must approve the changes to the opting-out charges and establish the conditions.

The application to amend opting-out terms comes as the rollout is progressing more quickly than expected and the rate of refusal, at under 0.4%, is lower than anticipated. The initial installation charge and the monthly charge are being revised downward as follows:

Initial installation charge


Charge in effect
(including installation credit
of $39)

Revised charge*
(including installation credit
of $37)

Initial installation charge

$98

$48

*The main reason for the lower charge is that the handling of requests for non-communicating meters has been incorporated into the massive rollout of next-generation meters, thus cutting costs.

To be fair to all customers who have opted out since 2012, the Distributor is proposing to apply the reduction retroactively. All customers who have already opted out will have the difference in installation charges plus interest credited to their bills.

Monthly meter-reading charge


Charge in effect

Revised charge**

Monthly meter-reading charge

$17

$8

**The main reason for the lower charge is that the number of meter readings required for the billing of customers who have opted out has been halved, from six to three. This proposal meets Hydro-Québec's minimum obligation with regard to the number of meter readings per customer per year under the Conditions of Electricity Service approved by the Régie.

Hydro-Québec feels that its application for amendment responds to the concerns of customers who considered the charges for opting out to be too high. It also respects the underlying principles of opting out recognized by the Régie in its decision of October 2012, that is, fair and reasonable charges and the user-pay principle, out of fairness to all of Hydro-Québec's customers.

In line with the Régie's earlier decision, customers who do not wish to have next-generation meters installed must opt out.

Close to 1.5 million meters already in operation
The rollout of next-generation meters is going smoothly. Hydro-Québec will soon have installed more than 1.5 million meters since the start of the rollout in February 2013. Almost 90% of the 1.7 million meters planned for Phase 1 of the project have been installed at the homes of customers in the greater Montréal area.

Furthermore, on May 5, the Régie de l'énergie authorized Hydro-Québec to install a total of 200,000 next-generation meters in the Phase 2 area, where telecommunications hardware has already been set up.

Public hearings concerning approval of phases 2 and 3 of the rollout of next-generation meters were held this past April. Subject to the Régie's final approval, by 2018, there will be next-generation meters throughout the entire area served by Hydro-Québec, bringing the total number of meters installed to 3.8 million.

Meters perfectly safe
Hydro-Québec would like to point out that, contrary to rumor, next-generation meters are safe. In fact, both Health Canada and Québec's Direction de santé publique [public health branch] have published their respective conclusions that the meters are not hazardous to health, and the  Royal Society of Canada concurred just a few weeks ago.

Health Canada

Avis des directeurs régionaux de santé publique [Opinion of regional directors of public health]

Report to the Royal Society of Canada (public summary)

Customers who would like more information about next-generation meters should go to www.hydroquebec.com/residential/customer-services/next-generation-meters/.

SOURCE: Hydro-Québec

For further information: Patrice Lavoie, Affaires publiques et médias, Hydro-Québec, 514 289-2097

RELATED LINKS
http://www.hydro.qc.ca

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