Saskatoon Light & Power (SL&P) has installed Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) using Smart Electric Meters and AMI Network Devices, throughout Saskatoon neighbourhoods.
Smart meters are electronic meters that measure and record actual power and water usage by time intervals throughout the day, and transmit that data wirelessly over a secure network to a central data management system. With a smart meter, meter reading can be done remotely.
AMI Network Devices
Data collection devices include Data Collector and Data Repeater devices. Data Collectors are devices that relay data from the meters to City Hall using SaskTel's 4G LTE wireless network. Data Repeaters are devices that extend the network outside of SL&P's Electrical Service Area to read water meters within the SaskPower Service Areas in Saskatoon. The devices are installed on existing power and streetlight poles throughout Saskatoon. Find out more about Saskatoon Water’s AMI program.
Deployment and Schedule
Smart meter installation began in 2008, and all neighbourhoods within the SL&P boundary were completed in 2019. AMI Network Device installations began in 2015, and are scheduled to be fully completed in 2021.
- Smart Meter replacements may exist in completed neighbourhoods due to access limitations.
- Some neighbourhoods may be revisited to optimize or expand the AMI network.
Benefits to Customers
You pay for what you use - Your monthly billing is based on actual use rather than estimates.
You can track your electrical and water use - Timely data allows you to save money by changing your electricity and water consumption habits. You can detect unusual consumption such as water leaks or when large electrical appliances are left on.
Improved service - Meter reading, connects and disconnects are done remotely. Meter readers are no longer required to visit your property.
Benefits to the City
Additional revenues are generated from more accurate metering and reductions in losses due to meter failure.
Reduced labour costs - meter reader visits and some electricity meter connects and disconnects are eliminated. Fuel costs and meter reader workplace injuries due to slips and falls and animal bites are also reduced.
Another benefit for everyone is reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from elimination of manual meter reading. It is estimated that 35 tonnes of CO2e tied to vehicle use will be reduced each year, and reductions from decreased water use are estimated at 3,300 tonnes CO2e, the equivalent of removing over 685 vehicles from Saskatoon roads each year.
Planning for the Future
In the future, smart meters could help identify power outages and water leaks more quickly, saving money through the operation of a more efficient system.
Electricity meters record the number of units of electricity you use. They are owned by the City of Saskatoon.
Energy is measured in kiloWatt hours (kWh).
A unit of electricity, for the purposes of recording consumption, is measured in kiloWatt hours (kWh).
One kiloWatt = 1,000 Watts.
One kiloWatt hour = 1,000 Watts used for one hour.
Smart meters are equipped with wireless network capability; therefore, they emit radio frequency (RF) waves. These emissions are well below Industry Canada and Health Canada regulations. The RF exposure from the meter is very small in comparison to other RF sources.
Health Canada’s website provides information on smart meters and radio frequency exposure.
How are smart meters different than mechanical meters?
Older meters are mechanical which means they use mechanical parts that spin as electricity is used, and the readout is on small dials that meter readers record while at a home or business. This reading is then used to calculate bills. The older a meter gets the less accurate it can be, which can result in under reporting. Some customers may see an increase of about 0.5% on their bills once the new meter is in place.
Smart meters track consumption electronically and then use a secure network to communicate directly with the City's Meter Data Management System. Smart meters mean your monthly bill will reflect actual use for that month, on every bill, every month. This means they are fair bills with no surprises; customers will not see bill adjustments or large unexpected increases in their bills through the year.
Will more accurate readings mean my bill will be higher?
After the new meter is installed, the actual read on the new meter is about 0.5%, or one half of one per cent higher. Therefore, on average, for a utility bill of $100, residents would see an increase of 50 cents on their bill. With the AMI system, each months' bill is based on actual usage, eliminating large "catch up" bills that can accumulate due to a long, cold winter when usage is higher.
If your bill is higher than expected, this month, it is likely because adjustments were made after the manual readings. That is, you have likely used more power than normal between readings and it is reflected in a larger-than-normal bill. With the AMI System, these adjustments will not happen because meters are read daily and reflect actual usage.
How else will a Smart Meter affect my daily life?
Smart meters also help customers detect any unusual consumption patterns as a result of, for example, leaving a portable electric heater turned on. In the future, the system could also help detect power outages faster, decreasing restoration time. This means improved customer service as meter reading, connects and disconnects can be done remotely. Meter readers will no longer have to visit your property.
Changing the billing with AMI is an opportunity to help customers understand their own usage. Customers will be able to save by tracking their usage and changing their consumption habits.
As part of the implementation, will there be a web portal or smart meter app residents can use to manage their own electricity and water usage?
We are investigating advanced applications that have the potential to reduce utility operating costs, improvements to service delivery, and reduction in peak energy demand and water consumption. This could include enhanced customer engagement tools through web interfaces, in-home displays, home area networks, and smart phone applications.
However, the costs to create any of these advanced systems are not included in our costs to date, and would require a separate report to City Council in the future, if supported by a positive business case.
Are smart meters safe?
Radio frequency (RF) emissions generated by smart meters are well below Health Canada and Industry Canada regulations. The RF emissions from smart meters are no different than for cell phones, except they are generated at much lower levels and only for short periods throughout the day.
Will my billing data be safe if it is being transmitted wirelessly?
The City applies the same privacy protection standards as have always been used. All data collected is used only to ensure accurate billing. Only encrypted meter readings and meter identification are transmitted through smart meters, not your personal information. Saskatoon Light & Power (SL&P) and the City of Saskatoon comply with Saskatchewan's privacy legislation.
What is the total cost of implementing an AMI system?
- Total capital costs - $24.31 million
- System operation costs - $22.1 million
- Total projected savings - $76.1 million
- The total project paid for within 11.43 years
- Internal rate of return - 11%
Will any jobs be lost as a result of the use of smart meters?
No, however, meter reader positions will be phased out over the next several years through attrition, retraining and redeployment. Two meter installation positions will also be phased out through attrition. Three new positions are required to operate the system. Overall, nine full-time positions will be eliminated in the long term.