FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Smart meter technology will help Nova Scotia Power deliver better, more efficient service to you and empower you with knowledge about your energy usage. You will be contacted in advance of your smart meter upgrade, but in most cases, nothing is required on your end.
SMART METER UPGRADE
Today, your meter is read manually approximately every 60 days to produce a bill with basic information about energy usage. Smart meters will provide a safe, secure, and two-way connection between the meter and Nova Scotia Power, helping us provide a more reliable service to our customers, and helping you understand your own energy usage better.
Big Tancook and Little Tancook islands use power line carrier (PLC) to communicate meter readings to Nova Scotia Power. Aside from the homes and business on these two islands, all our meters (approximately 500,000) require manual readings approximately every 60 days.
Beginning in late 2019, we will be upgrading meters and building our smart network in preparation for smart meter technology to be turned on in 2021.
You will be contacted in advance of smart meter upgrades taking place in your community, which are expected to begin in late 2019 and be finished by early 2021. In most cases, nothing is required by you. Only customers with indoor meters that are inaccessible will require an appointment.
Majority of our customers will not need to book an appointment because meters are located outside and accessible. If your meter is located inside or if you have an Electric Thermal Storage (ETS) unit, we will call you to book an appointment prior to us upgrading in your community.
If you decide not to upgrade to a smart meter (opt out), you will be selecting a non-standard meter service and will be charged a fee based on cost recovery for manual meter reading. This ensures these costs are not passed on to all our customers.
The Utility and Review Board (UARB) set two options for customers who decide to opt out from upgrading to a smart meter:
- Customers whose meters are currently read every two months will move to two reads per year and pay a fee of approximately $4 per month.
- Customers whose meters are currently read each month will continue to have monthly reads and pay a fee of approximately $22 per month.
These fees are an estimate and will not be charged to customers until the smart meter upgrade is complete and approval is received from the UARB to begin charging fees.
To opt out from receiving a smart meter, you will need to complete the following acknowledgement form. Before opting out, it is important that you review and understand the service limitations of a non-communicating meter and the fees associated with manual readings.
Residential Customers, click here.
Business Customers, click here.
If you have previously requested to opt out of receiving a smart meter, a note has been made on your file and a member of our customer care team will be in touch to have you complete the acknowledgement form prior to meter upgrades starting this fall.
If you have questions about your smart meter upgrade and what it means for you, please get in touch with us.
You can reach our Customer Care Centre from Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. or email us at email@example.com
1-800-428-6230 or 902-428-6230
1-800-565-6051 (TTY/Hearing impaired)
Tribus Services was selected as the smart meter installation vendor for our meter upgrade based on a competitive procurement process, which highlighted the company’s extensive experience with smart meter installations across North America, including installing over 2 million smart meters in Canada.
Your meter technician will arrive in a co-branded vehicle and will be wearing co-branded safety gear with Nova Scotia Power and Tribus Services logos. Additionally, your technician will have an identification badge with the Nova Scotia Power logo and ‘Authorized Contractor’ included on it.
Upgrading a meter typically takes between 10-15 minutes.
If your meter is located inside, we will reach out to you to book an appointment to upgrade your meter.
As long as the electric meter at your home or business can safely be accessed, you are not required to be present at the time of the upgrade. Please make sure nothing is preventing safe access to the meter, such as locked gates or doors, dogs or any other obstruction.
You can call us at any time to have your meter upgraded at no additional cost.
Nova Scotia Power is building a secure and private communication network (we will not be using your WiFi). When meters have been upgraded and the communication network is up and running, meters will use wireless communication to securely transmit your energy usage information from your meter to a collector located nearby. These collectors will then use the cellular network to relay energy usage information (or data) back to our main data centre.
Collectors relay data from the smart meters to our data centre. We have conducted site surveys to determine which wooden utility poles will be used to install approximately 550 collectors; installation work began in August 2019.
If a collector is within range of your smart meter, the smart meter will collect and send data as soon as it is installed. However, at that time we will still be finalizing our backend systems, so meters will continue to be read manually. Customers will be able to take advantage of smart meter benefits once the technology is turned on in 2021.
The data transmitted from the meter to the collector will be encrypted; this means that it is locked with a unique key and only accessible with the matching key owned by Nova Scotia Power. The collector then sends the encrypted data to our system where it will be unlocked and used to generate bills. In 2021, the data will also be available to you through your online account where you can view your energy usage in intervals as frequent as 15 minutes. You can access updates on your energy usage consumption daily.
We are assessing the best options to serve customers in areas with limited cellular coverage. In some areas, range extenders will be installed to help bridge the gap between the meter and the collector, so energy usage data can be transmitted.
COST & ELECTRICITY RATES
There is no charge to upgrade to a new smart meter. Over the next 20 years, smart meters are estimated to reduce costs in the electricity system by approximately $38 million. This helps us keep rates stable and affordable for our customers.
No, the smart meter upgrade will not impact current power rates. You will get the benefits of smart meter technology without paying more through electricity rates because smart meters will make our business more efficient, paying for the investment over time.
Not immediately. In the future, smart meters may enable us to provide you with more rate options to best suit your lifestyle and energy use. Our first focus is on the successful upgrade of smart meters and we’ll be talking to customers about future opportunities such as different rate options and technology applications once that occurs. Any new rate options proposed by Nova Scotia Power would need to be submitted, reviewed and approved by the UARB.
We currently offer time-of-day rates to residential customers who have a certain type of home-heating system, and this is an option based completely on customer choice. For customers with Electric Thermal Storage (ETS) units – which basically store heat when time-of-day rates are lower at night, and then pump out heat during the daytime when rates are higher – time-of-day rates help save money.
No. In the future, smart meters may enable us to provide our customers with more rate options, such as time-of-day, to best suit their lifestyle and energy use.
Our first focus is on the successful deployment of smart meters and we’ll be talking to customers about future opportunities such as different rate options and technology applications in 2020.
HEALTH & SAFETY
Safety is always our first priority. Smart meters are currently used in 70% of Canadian homes and as a late adopter, we’ve had the opportunity to carefully review the technology. We are confident the meters used for our Smart Meter Upgrade are safe, accurate, and secure. All meters we use meet or exceed industry regulations and standards, which are in place to help ensure the health and safety of our employees and our customers. Our smart meters will adhere to a long list of standards established by third-party organizations such as:
- Measurement Canada
- American National Standard for Electricity Meters (ANSI)
- International Electro-technical Commission (IEC)
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
- National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA)
- Underwriters Laboratory
There are no reported cases of fires caused by the smart meter model we are adopting. We are using a newer generation meter than used in earlier rollouts, and will undergo more rigorous testing for safety, security and accuracy.
Electromagnetic fields (EMFs), radio waves, microwaves and wireless signals are collectively referred to as radio frequency (RF) energy. All devices that use wireless communication produce RF, including common household items such as baby monitors, Wi-Fi routers, and cellular phones.
Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 sets the safe exposure limits for radio frequencies from wireless devices. These guidelines are based on an ongoing review of published scientific studies related to safe human exposure to radio frequencies and were recently updated in 2015. Both Health Canada and the World Health Organization have both concluded that RF produced by smart meters does not pose a public health risk.