Smart-meter management not so smart back east

Ontario forecast fails to read consumer habits correctly

Re: B.C. smart meter program good model: Ontario auditor (News Gazette, Jan. 2)

Tom Fletcher’s story on the smart meter financial fiasco in Ontario shows that government is not the solution to economics.

Ontario’s failure was caused by both mismanagement and a market forecasting failure, driven by both ideology and an attempt to reduce capital investment in power plants.

Its smart meter plan had a fundamental difference from B.C. Hydro’s. Here, the justification was elimination of most visits to the meters, which depends on solid technology properly implemented, and a reduction in the theft of electricity.

Ontario’s justification was the savings of investment in additional generating capacity that would result from customers shifting time of consumption in response to higher prices at peak demand times.

The eastern province’s forecast that people would shift their power usage to avoid peak-time prices was a marketing failure, at least in the short term. It suggests to me that people valued their time more than the savings.

Complicating Ontario’s situation was the odd features of its pricing system and poor co-ordination among the many entities involved. Even recognizing the perils of panic schedules, the quality of management in Ontario’s agencies and power distributors seems low.

Among the botches was lack of standard security practices, such as immediate deletion of access credentials for departed employees and inability to promptly investigate reports of fires at meters.

Keith Sketchley


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