`Smart meters' will cost us
But Premier touts hydro savings
Subsidy for those with low incomes
Toronto Star - March 27, 2004
by Robert Benzie — Queen's Park Bureau
Ontario homeowners will have to pay for the installation of "smart meters"
that monitor their electricity use and encourage energy conservation,
Premier Dalton McGuinty says.
McGuinty promised yesterday that low-income earners would receive
provincial subsidies for the meters, which can cost up to $500, but said
everyone else would have to buy their own.
Asked whether consumers would have to pay some of the cost of the smart
meters, the Premier replied: "Yes. But it will pay for itself. You're
looking at a very small monthly charge and it's all designed to ensure
that you are in fact saving money over the long term."
At present, most homeowners' meters record the kilowatt hours of power
used between readings.
Smart meters — or interval meters — record when the power was used so the
consumer is charged the actual price of electricity at the time it was used.
Right now, the Premier said, if an Ontario resident puts a dishwasher on
at three a.m., that's good for energy generation in Ontario but he'll get
no reward for doing so. Under the new system, smart meters will ensure
Ontarians pay less for power at off-peak rates.
The Premier said his government would announce next week measures it will
take to promote conservation and urge people to change their energy-use
habits.New Democrat MPP Peter Kormos said McGuinty should focus instead on
aggressively promoting conservation.
are going to skyrocket," Kormos said. "Now the
government's telling homeowners that they've got to ... pick up the tab
for so-called smart meters."
Effective Thursday, the price of electricity is rising to 4.7 cents a
kilowatt hour from 4.3 cents for the first 750 kilowatt hours. Each
additional kilowatt hour will cost 5.5 cents.
The government is expected to set out next week a financial assistance
plan for low-income Ontarians hurt by the hike.
With files from Caroline Mallan and Richard Brennan
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