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Slightly-Smarter Meters
02/08/2005

I wrote a little while ago about the electrcity problems in Ontario, and refered to smart meters as a potential solution. John Spears of the Toronto Star already has one, but his experience leaves me wondering how smart the meters really are.

One shortcoming is that the prices for the different time segments are fixed, instead of changing with the demand. As well, he has to wait 24 hours to find out what his usage actually was.

This doesn't sound like it would be very good at producing the effects I was hoping for.

What might work better would be a meter that shows you (and charges you) the live price that Ontario is paying for its electricity. That way, if we were at our production limit and needed to import electricity at triple the usual price, the meters would be showing triple the price and you'd be incentivized to act accordingly.

Instead, the current meters charge:

  • 2.9 cents a kilowatt hour all day long on weekends, and on weekdays from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
  • 9.3 cents a kilowatt hour, is set from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • 6.4 cents a kilowatt hour goes from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Those are the summer rates.

This is still an improvement over what exists today. But, I hope that by the time these meters become more widespread, they'll have an even better system in place.


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