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Hydro-Quebec files application to lower next-gen meter opt-out charges

May 22, 2014 | By Alyssa Dalton

May 22, 2014 – Hydro-Quebec is filing an application with the Régie de l’énergie—the Quebec 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, noted the utility.

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, added Hydro-Quebec, saying the amendment “responds to the concerns of customers who considered the charges for opting out to be too high”. 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

According to Hydro-Quebec, 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, it 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-Quebec’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-Quebec has installed nearly 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 Montreal area. Furthermore, earlier this month the Régie de l’énergie authorized Hydro-Quebec to install a total of 200,000 next-generation meters in the Phase 2 area, where telecommunications hardware has already been set up.

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