Are the radio frequency emissions from smart meters dangerous?
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 concluded that radio frequencies produced by smart meters does not pose a public health risk.
What are radio frequencies?
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.
Do smart meters cause fires?
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.
Are smart meters safe?
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
Will smart meters mean mandatory time-of-day rates?
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.
Will time-of-day rates be available once the smart meter upgrade is complete?
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.
Will power rates increase as a result of upgrading to smart meter technology?
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.
How much will my smart meter cost me?
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.
How will smart meters work in areas with limited cellular coverage?
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.
How will you collect, protect and share data collected by my meter?
Nova Scotia Power takes the privacy of our customers’ personal information very seriously and protects and discloses customer personal information in accordance with the requirements set out in the Federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document
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.
What information will smart meters send?
Smart meters will collect and
send information related to electricity usage and power quality in a secure,
encrypted format. They will not communicate information to Nova Scotia Power
- The specific electronics a customer is using
throughout the day.
- Customer names, addresses or account
NS Power takes the privacy of
our customers’ information very seriously. We do not sell our customers’ personal
information and only share it with third parties in limited circumstances, as
Will my new smart meter start communicating as soon as it’s installed?
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.
What are collectors and where will they be installed?
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.
How will smart meters communicate energy usage information back to Nova Scotia Power?
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.
What if I move into a house that doesn’t have a smart meter, how do I get my meter upgraded?
You can call us at any time to have your meter upgraded at no additional cost.
What do I need to do while my meter is being upgraded?
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
My current meter is located inside my home or business. What do I do?
If your meter is located inside, we will reach out to you to book an appointment to upgrade your meter.
How long will the meter upgrade take for my home or business?
Upgrading a meter typically takes between 10-15 minutes.
How can I verify my meter upgrade technician’s identity?
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.
Who will be upgrading my new meter?
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.
Who do I call if I have any questions about smart meters?
When would I be charged these fees if I decide not to upgrade to a smart meter?
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.
What are the fees if I decide to opt out from upgrading to a smart meter?
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.
What if I do not want a smart meter?
Do I need to book 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.
How do I get a smart meter?
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.
When will you be upgrading my meter?
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.
Do I already have a smart meter?
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.
What is a smart meter?
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.